Backyard Solar Panels: Five FAQs
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When acquiring residential solar, people often think of standard rooftop mounts. However, homeowners don’t necessarily have to put solar on their homes. They can install solar panels in their backyards with ground-mounted systems. Those thinking about putting solar in their backyards should know the answer to these common questions first. Below we have collected five backyard solar panel questions that interested homeowners should consider.
1. How Do Backyard Solar Panels Differ From Rooftop Solar?
Backyard solar mounts typically require extra laborers, different permitting, electrical code standards and zoning laws, and a more robust mounting system. This all costs more money upfront.
Often backyard solar arrays require more labor because the solar panels need securing to the ground instead of the roof. The solar array also isn’t as close to the home, which requires more wiring.
However, not all the differences are negative. Solar installers can fine-tune the tilt of the solar panels to maximize production. Typically it’s easier to clean and maintain them, too.
Using Pole Mounts and Ground Mounts in Backyard Solar
Lastly, backyard solar uses different mounting methods. Typically backyard solar installations use either a ground mount or a pole mount.
Ground-mounted solar panels have several metal poles secured in the ground. A racking system attaches to these poles, holding the entire solar array above ground. Pole-mounted solar panels use one large post that suspends a solar array in the air.
2. When Are Backyard Solar Panels a Better Option?
Homeowners who install a roof-mounted system will save money. However, sometimes individuals prefer — or can only add — a backyard installation.
The Argument for Ground Mount Aesthetics
Although solar panels have a sleek design, some don’t like how they look on homes. Aesthetics often draw people to put solar panels in their backyard.
How Ground Mounts Make Solar a Viable Option for Some
If a roof doesn’t have enough unshaded space or pitch facing the right direction, it may not work for solar. Solar panels work best when they face south, but east and west-facing solar panels can still produce significant amounts. Homeowners with space for a ground mount can generate more solar power because they don’t have these limiting factors.
3. What Are the Space Requirements for Backyard Panels?
The challenge of space comes with installing solar panels in the backyard. Putting solar panels on the roof utilizes unused space, whereas backyard solar panels take up property space.
The Axitec 315-watt solar panels that Go Solar Group uses need 17.875 square feet per solar panel. The smallest backyard installation completed with these includes six solar panels. At the least, a backyard array would need 107.25 square feet.
And this estimate doesn’t even include setback regulations. A setback includes a required distance between a solar array and the property line. Each jurisdiction has “setback” regulations, which vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
At Go Solar Group, we have seen setbacks for backyard solar installations as small as five feet or as long as 20 feet. However, this range isn’t a minimum or maximum; it just gives an idea of what to expect.
4. How Much Do Backyard Solar Panels Save?
Solar savings have made solar an attractive energy option for many. Backyard installations don’t have the same return on investment as rooftop solar. However, they still save money.
The cost of adding a ground mount often costs more than a rooftop installation. However, a home that works better for a backyard installation will still see a significant return.
5. How Many Solar Panels Does a Home Need?
How many solar panels a home needs is determined by many factors. First, solar companies must work with utility companies to calculate the home’s electricity usage over the past year. Month-to-month electricity use gives an accurate picture of the energy needs of the house.
After collecting usage, the customer needs to decide on a solar panel. The solar panel size and type make a big difference in how many modules the home needs for the production of solar energy and the percent of system offset.