Backyard Solar Panels: 5 FAQs

Rooftop Solar
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questions about backyard solar panels

When acquiring residential solar, people often think of standard rooftop mounts. However, homeowners can also have solar panels installed in their backyards with ground-mounted solar panels.

Those thinking about putting solar in their backyard should take a look at some of these common questions first. Below we have collected five backyard solar panel questions that interested homeowners should know.

1. How are Backyard Solar Panels Different Than Rooftop?

The difference between backyard solar and rooftop solar consists of extra labor, different permitting, and a more robust mounting system. Ground mounts also have their electrical code standards for installation, but as a consumer, you don’t need to worry about this.

Often backyard systems require more labor because the solar panels need securing to the ground instead of the roof. The solar panels also aren’t as close to the home, which requires more wiring.

Permitting regulations for solar panels installed in a backyard also have differences. These regulations, however, depend on the location of the home.

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 then 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?

Homes that can install a roof-mounted system will save money. However, sometimes individuals prefer or can only add a backyard installation.

Although solar panels have a sleek design, some don’t think they look good on the roof. Aesthetics, far more frequently than installing the system for efficiency, draws people to put solar panels in their backyard.

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 still produce a significant amount of electricity.

3. What are the Requirements for Backyard Panels?

When solar panels aren’t installed on the roof, they have different requirements. These requirements depend on the location of the home. 

The challenge of space also 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.

Go Solar Group’s Axitec 315-watt solar panels 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.

This estimate, however, isn’t including 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 5 feet or as large as 20 feet. This, however, 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 are one reason solar has become such an attractive option right now. Backyard installations don’t have the same return on investment as rooftop solar. However, they still save money.

It takes more materials and time to build a ground mount. Furthermore, permits can cost more. If, however, your home works better for a backyard installation, the return still makes the investment worth it.

5. How Many Solar Panels Are Needed to Power a House?

How many solar panels the home needs comes as a bit of a loaded question. The first thing needed to calculate these needs includes the home’s electric usage over the past year. Month-to-month electric usage gives an accurate picture of the energy needs of the home.

After collecting usage, the customer needs to decide on a solar panel. The solar panel size and type makes a big difference in how many modules the home needs for the same amount of energy.

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