Ground Mounted Solar Panels
Solartherm UK offer domestic ground mount to commercial sized standalone Solar PV systems. We class commercial as 25kWp and above as ordinarily we would be on to a 3-phase supply and require lots more ground, most homes are usually satisfied with systems up to 25kWp although of course there are exceptions.
Most homeowners looking for ground mounted solar panels often have spare ground that’s close by to the home or electric supply. We can and have installed alongside headland facing over fields, against the fence line in and outside of boundary fences. In the garden, in neighbouring fields. Fields that are owned or fields that are rented, it makes no odds to us so long as you have permission.
Planning is often required when the system is more than 5m from the building, over 4m high, or are larger sized system above 9m2. Buildings that are listed or in a conservation area where the solar can be seen from a road are another that may need planning. However, it also depends on your local authority, their opinions on solar panels and the councils view on the area it will be cited.
To that end Solartherm UK have installed hundreds of panels by simply discussing the plan with the councils, we have often then proceeded with just an agreement by email with the council agreeing they are permitted development. Of course, the bigger the town or council the less chance of that approach happening, and on occasion the council will simply ask that you apply.
Solartherm UK can organise that for you, but most applications can be done quickly online with a simple document to attach that shows a block plan of where the panels will sit. The height and a visual showing what the equipment is and what they make look like.
Trench & Cable
One of the biggest parts of the installation and sometimes just as costly can be the trench excavation and the cable that goes in it, that’s the cable that connects the PV array to the property’s electricity supply.
Trench excavations are usually 450mm deep, but only a digger bucket wide. The longer the trench the bigger the cable, the larger the PV array the larger the cable.
Sometimes it’s possible to run data cable in the trench and connect the system to a monitoring platform, other times it’s simply too far for a decent connection without further hardware to boost the signal.
Have a think about what the trench may need to be dug through and what may need to be re-instated. Tree roots are also a concern.
The Solartherm groundwork team are well versed in machine works, however as a lot of ground mounts seem to be on farms and we have no issue with the trench being excavated and then backfilled by others.
Types of Ground Mount
If you have a lawn area or grassland that’s regularly cut or maintained and do not want to see the panels, we can install solar panels into a plastic tub that’s filled with ballast and sits around 280mm off the ground at its highest point.
These tubs can be laid directly to the lawn or grassland area, but the grass or vegetation must be regularly maintained. Solartherm UK sometimes also scrape back the top loam layer of lawn apply a ground control fabric and overlay with shingle. This type of system is often an easy and quick solution and will usually satisfy any planning office without the need for an application.
Preferably Solartherm UK will install a steel frame ground mount. The frames we use are a German Schletter brand. These frames take 16 panels which equates to 6.16kWp using current sized stock panels at 385w although they can take 450w. We can position these frames side by side, back-to-back for East/West split or in any configuration required. These systems are good up to around 25kw systems after that it’s more economical to use king rows of commercial solar frames.
A standard grid Inverter, SolarEdge or micro inverters can be used. As most inverters are now IP68 (weatherproof) we can mount the inverter under the array for the raised systems or on a nearby wall, shed or fixed platform. Other than that, we place the inverter near the consumer board or incoming supply area in the property.
The cost of ground mount systems is around 25/35% more than when on roof space. Although when up against fences on headland or against a building where we can part brace from posts or fixed structure can sometimes be more cost effective.
However, if you have a roof with a South, East, or West orientation then that is always you first option no matter if you think it won’t support solar. If it has space enough for panels, it’s can have panels.
The cheapest option are the tubs, the best option are the raised steel frames. That’s usually because of the height and pitch if the raised systems meaning less shade and less chance of vegetation and of course no maintenance. A raised system without trench works but including panels, inverter, meter, and installation may be around £14/15k or around £2.35 p/per watt. The cable and trench are usually costed separately once our team know what we are excavating. But the more you have the cheaper it gets!
Solartherm UK have been installing ground mounted solar PV systems for well over 11 years (at the time of writing) our company has designed and installed arrays of 6 panels to 600 panels. We have designed, completed DNO and obtained planning on ground mounted systems of well over 5MW. (That’s 2597 385w panels per MW and 12’987 total) anything over 600 or so panels we subcontract to others usually as we simply don’t have the manpower to install those systems and keep our daily contracts going.
But if you have a large expanse of land or wish to invest it’s well worth the conversation.
Our Live chat feature is often an effective way to get in touch or call or email. (T:01268 552868 E: [email protected])
Please have an idea of your annual electricity usage and costs. A satellite photo of the site or a description of the site and the address and our team can often do a site evaluation without attending if the photos and Google images are clear.