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The complete guide to ground-mounted solar panels

Ground-mounted panels cost 25% to 35% more than roof-mounted ones

They can be angled and directed very easily to achieve maximum efficiency

Systems larger than nine square metres require planning permission


Ground-mounted solar panels are more efficient than roof-mounted solar panels, as achieving the best angle and direction is easier when no roof is in the way. This setup also enables the installation of bifacial solar panels, which can turn more sunlight into power.

They are also cooler than those installed on roofs, meaning they are more efficient for longer. But, they are also more prone to obstacles, like buildings or trees, blocking their sun exposure.

If a home has a lot of land attached to it, then ground-mounted solar panels could be a good option – and if they’re exposed to more sunlight, then you’ll be able to break even on the cost of solar panels sooner.

To give you a better idea of whether ground-mounted panels are right for you, this article will go over how much ground-mounted solar panels cost, how much space they take up, and compare them to roof-mounted solar panels.

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Solar panels installed in a garden with house and trees in background

What are ground-mounted solar panels?

Unlike typical solar panel systems, ground-mounted panels are fixed into the floor, instead of on the roof. Although they’re commonly used for solar farms, they can also be used in domestic solar panel setups.

Solar panels can either be mounted on a metal frame or fixed on a single pole – both of which are driven into the ground, or anchored with concrete for stability.

Pole-mounted panels can also be fitted with a solar tracking system, which adjusts the angle of the panel, based on the sun’s position in the sky.

Tracking systems allow solar panels to receive optimal sun exposure and can increase efficiency by 20% to 35%. But they are also expensive – they cost around £2,500 – and some electricity will be sacrificed to operate the tracking system.

As previously mentioned, they are also one of the best ways to install bifacial solar panel systems too. These panels are typically able to produce 10-30% more electricity than conventional panels. They are more expensive initially, but there superior PV generation speeds up the payback you get.

How much do ground-mounted solar panels cost?

The average cost of a solar panel system in the UK is £7,026 for a three-bedroom house, but ground-mounted solar panels should cost a little more than this. To give you an idea, an average system would set you back between £8,000 and £15,000.

According to Solartherm UK, ground-mounted solar panels can be 25% to 35% more expensive than roof-mounted ones. The reason behind the added cost is that ground-mounted systems require more materials and take more time to install.

In a roof-mounted solar panel system, the roof is a pre-existing supporting structure. But, in a ground-mounted system, that structure needs to be built from scratch and anchored into the ground so that the panels remain stable.

Ground-mounted solar panels also need longer wires than roof-mounted ones since they are located further away from the house’s electrical system. These wires usually need to be trenched into the ground to prevent damage by the natural environment.

Some more advanced ground-mounted solar panels are being introduced into public spaces, charmingly named ‘solar trees’. These artificial trees are equipped with solar panels that generate and store clean energy from the sun. However, these innovations can cost as much as £62,000 per structure.

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How much space do ground-mounted solar panels need?

The average three-bedroom house will need around 50 square metres of space for ground-mounted solar panels to meet its energy needs.

This typically means solar panels can be fitted in a garden – although you would need around 30 square meters to fit enough solar panels to power a three-bedroom house.

If a property has less than 30 square metres of land, ground-mounted solar panels can still be fitted in a garden, either to supplement the solar panels on the roof of the house, or to power sheds or garden lights.

Read more about Solar Panels for Garden on our page, or check out our pages on Solar Panel.

One 350-watt (W) solar panel is around two metres long and one metre wide. A three-bedroom house will need around 10 of these to meet its energy needs, equalling a total of 20 square metres.

But an extra 5–10 metres of space needs to be factored in for ground-mounted solar panels because they need to be far enough away from the house, so that they don’t fall under its shade.

The exact distance ground-mounted panels need to be from the house will depend on a number of factors, including the size of the system and the height of the property. Thankfully, installers will assess this before they crack on with the installation

If you want to work out how many solar panels your property needs, and how much space they’ll take up, check out our helpful guide.

Do ground-mounted solar panels need to be close to my property?

Ground-mounted solar panels don’t necessarily need to be close to your property, but the further away panels are, the more expensive they will be to install.

Why exactly does it cost more? Well, the further away ground-mounted solar panels are from the property they are powering, the longer the wiring will have to be. And the more material you use, the more the installation will cost.

Wiring that stretches over a long distance also needs to be thicker than usual to prevent a drop in voltage – the pressure that pushes electricity – as the electricity travels from your panels to your home. Voltage drops can reduce the operating efficiency of a home’s electrical system, so it’s important to avoid them.

An alternative to ground-mounted solar panels are solar panel fences. Find out more about them on our page.

large ground-mounted solar panel system in garden surrounded by shrubbery

Is it harder to sell a house with ground-mounted solar panels?

In most cases, solar panels can increase the value of a house by around 4.1%. This is probably because of the many benefits that come with owning solar panels, such as lower electricity bills and a decreased carbon footprint.If you have ground-mounted solar panels though, it’s worth bearing in mind that your property will have less free land space, so solar panels might not necessarily increase its value.

You can find out more about buying and selling a house with solar panels by visiting our page.

Ground-mounted solar panels vs roof-mounted

Ground-mounted solar panels are installed on the ground instead of on a building’s roof. They allow for optimal placement to maximize sun exposure, resulting in higher energy production. Ground-mounted systems are highly versatile and can be adjusted for the best tilt and orientation.

They are easier to access for maintenance and cleaning, which can improve their efficiency and longevity. Additionally, ground-mounted solar panels are ideal for properties with ample land but unsuitable roofs for solar installations due to shading, orientation, or structural limitations.

Roof-mounted solar panels are directly installed on a building’s roof, making them a popular choice for residential and commercial properties with limited land space. This installation type takes advantage of otherwise unused space, seamlessly integrating into the existing structure and preserving the property’s aesthetics.

Roof-mounted systems can benefit from natural cooling as the panels create a layer of shade for the roof, potentially reducing cooling costs for the building. While they may be more challenging to access for maintenance compared to ground-mounted systems, roof-mounted panels are an efficient and space-saving option for harnessing solar energy in urban and suburban settings.

Pros

  • Less expensive to install than ground-mounted solar panels
  • Do not require planning permission (except for listed buildings and conservation areas)
  • Take up unused space on the roof of the property
  • Can angle and direct the solar panels to receive maximum sunlight
  • Easier to clean and maintain than roof-mounted systems
  • Increased panel efficiency, due to high levels of ventilation

Cons

  • More susceptible to accidental damage
  • Higher potential for shading from nearby buildings and trees, etc
  • Do require enough empty ground space to install
  • You may need to remove some vegetation (like trees) to install them
  • Typically more expensive than roof-mounted systems

Do I need planning permission for ground-mounted solar panels?

If a ground-mounted solar panel system is larger than nine square metres – the equivalent of four to five panels – it will require planning permission.

For context, you would need a 10-panel system to power a typical three-bedroom house, which would take up around 20 square metres. This means that most homeowners who want to install a ground-mounted solar panels system large enough to power their entire home will need planning permission.

Homeowners in listed buildings will also need planning permission for their solar panels, regardless of the size of the ground-mounted solar system. The same goes for some properties in a conservation area or a world heritage site – if the property is near a highway, and the solar panels are installed closer to the highway than the house itself.

You can check all the requirements and apply for planning permission by using the Planning Portal.

Summary: Are ground-mounted solar panels right for my property?

Domestic ground-mounted solar panels are a good option for properties with a large amount of land or a roof that’s unsuitable for solar panels.

If your property has a lot of outdoor space, it could fit a larger solar panel system on the ground than on the roof, generating more electricity.

However, ground-mounted solar panels aren’t a good option for homeowners with less than 50 square metres of land because it’s unlikely they’ll be able to fit enough solar panels to meet their home’s energy needs.

This won’t be a problem if you want to install ground-mounted solar panels to supplement the energy produced by roof-mounted solar panels or are using them to power a shed or garden light.

For homeowners who want to use solar energy but don’t have a lot of land or a suitable roof for solar panels, there are other options, such as wall-mounted solar panels.

Whether installed on the roof or on the ground, solar panels are a great way to start using more green energy at home. They can save the average UK home £537 a year on their energy bills.

If your property consumes a lot of energy and can fit more solar panels on the ground than on the roof, then ground-mounted solar panels might be the better option for you. After all, having more solar panels will lead to more electricity generation.

Written by:
Tatiana has written about multiple environmental topics, including heat pumps, energy-efficient household products, and solar panels. She is dedicated to demystifying green tech to make eco-friendly living more accessible.
Reviewed by:
Christopher is an Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) specialist with extensive experience advising consumer and trade clients on energy efficiency and sustainability.
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