Ground mounted PV systems are usually large, utility-scale photovoltaic power stations for both commercial and residential usage. The PV array consist of solar modules held in place by racks or frames that are attached to ground based mounting supports.
Ground based mounting supports include:
- Pole mounts, which are driven directly into the ground or embedded in concrete.
- Foundation mounts, such as concrete slabs or poured footings
- Ballasted footing mounts, such as concrete or steel bases that use weight to secure the solar module system in position and do not require ground penetration. This type of mounting system is well suited for sites where excavation is not possible such as capped landfills and simplifies decommissioning or relocation of solar module systems.
Solar panels can also be mounted as shade structures where the solar panels can provide shade instead of patio covers. The cost of such shading systems are generally different from standard patio covers, especially in cases where the entire shade required is provided by the panels. The support structure for the shading systems can be normal systems as the weight of a standard PV array is between 3 and 5 pounds/ft2. If the panels are mounted at an angle steeper than normal patio covers, the support structures may require additional strengthening. Other issues that are considered include:
- Simplified array access for maintenance.
- Module wiring may be concealed to maintain the aesthetics of the shading structure.
- Growing vines around the structure must be avoided as they may come in contact with the wiring.