It's become very common in many areas to see solar panels on rooftops, and sometimes you might wonder why every house doesn't have solar panels. However, they just might have them -- installed in a ground array. If you are considering solar power for your home, you should look at both roof and ground installations to see which might work better for you. It could turn out that there's a better alternative to the placement you were originally considering.
The age of your roof and your plans for replacing it are very important if you're planning to get solar roof panels. If your roof is old, you should get it replaced before installing the panels. If you don't replace the roof, and you find you have to replace it after you install the panels, then you basically have a construction mess on your hands. It's certainly possible to do it, but be prepared for the replacement to take longer. If your roof will need to be replaced in the near future, a ground array for solar energy may be better. On the other hand, if your roof is relatively new, a roof array could be just fine.
Where on your property is the most sunshine versus the most shade? You want those panels in a place where they'll get the most direct sunlight. If that's a spot in your yard, and your roof is mostly shaded by trees or other neighboring structures, then the ground array wins.
Rain and Snow
How's your yard's drainage, and what paths do rain and snow usually take to get off your roof? Roof arrays can block a lot of water and snow movement, leading to an increased risk of ice dams and leaks. Ground arrays are susceptible to flooding and snow drifts. If you have great drainage in your yard and don't get a lot of snow -- or you're prepared to constantly dig the array out of drifts -- a ground array may be better. If your yard drainage tends to be poor, but your roof allows rain and snow to move off the roof freely without interfering with panel installations, a roof array will be better.
Of course, if you have little room in your yard for a ground array, then the roof wins unless there is something really wrong with the roof, such as its age or its ability to hold the weight of the panels.
Talk to solar installers about where to place the panels. You may find that there are other options you hadn't considered (such as ground arrays that move with the sun throughout the day).
When my husband and I bought our first home, we bought a "fixer-upper" to work on for a few months before we moved in. Once we started discussing the improvements we would make to it, I realized that my husband had no idea how different building materials affected the earth and would affect the air we breathed in our home. Thankfully, he did understand that energy-efficiency was important for both the earth and our budgets. To make sure we made all of the right decisions that would help us create a healthy, eco-friendly home, I put a lot of research into building methods and materials that helped us create a wonderful, safe place we now live in. I want to help others build healthier, more eco-friendly homes, so I want to share what I have learned on a blog. Come back soon for tips!