What Solar Options Are There Besides Rooftop Solar?

By Hannah Glenn
May 30, 2018

When you think of solar, you probably imagine a solar panel-lined rooftop. For many homeowners, rooftop solar is usually the way to go. But it isn’t practical for every home or situation.

There are times you might need to look into other options besides rooftop solar. In some cases, you could even see more energy production from alternative solar options.

Here are a few of those other solar options for you.

When and Why You Might Not Be Able to Use Rooftop

Rooftop solar systems are common because they make sense in many ways. Aesthetically, solar panels on the rooftop can be out of sight. They also don’t take up space you would normally use (when was the last time you spent time on your roof?).

Installing a rooftop solar array is a fairly common and quick practice these days as well.

You might have to look into other solar options if you have:

  • Limited roof space
  • Too much shading from trees or nearby structures
  • An older roof that you’re not interested in updating at the moment

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Other Solar Options and Their Advantages

Ground-mounted solar is an excellent option if you find yourself in a situation where rooftop doesn’t make sense.

There are a couple variations for ground-mounted solar. One option is a standard ground mount, where solar panels are secured to a stationary metal frame close to the ground. The other is pole mounting, which often incorporates solar tracking.

These are both great choices with the following advantages:

  • Optimal positioning towards the south (or even following the sun)
  • No space limitations, which means as many panels (and as much power) as you want
  • Easily avoid shading by picking an optimal location
  • No roof upgrade needed

If you own a lot of land, it might be worth looking into ground solar anyway. You have more control over positioning your panels or even purchasing a tracking system. These moveable ground mounts follow the sun’s position in the sky, which can significantly increase how much power your panels produce.

View our 2018 Solar Starter Guide

Better energy production means more energy savings sooner.

Of course, you'll need to compare these benefits with the added cost of ground mounts. These systems require more hardware and labor, including trenching from the system to your inverter and panel box. Our Energy Advisors can help you easily compare the pros and cons of rooftop versus ground mounted solar.

Other Reasons and Options for Solar Alternatives

Another big reason you might look into solar arrays besides rooftop might be that you live in a condo or other shared building. Rooftop solar can be more difficult to install in these situations, particularly if you live in a community with HOA restrictions.

California recently passed a law making it easier for condo owners to go solar, even if they live in an HOA community. If you live outside of California or if you rent, community solar might work for you.

Community Solar

With community solar, a group of people who might not be able to go solar on their own can fund a shared solar project. Ask your neighbors if they’d be interested in a community solar project. They probably like the idea of saving money on their electricity bills, too. Your utility company might even be developing community solar systems you can opt into,

Don’t be discouraged by thinking a roof with a skylight or too many chimneys will keep you from getting solar. There are plenty of options. And they might even work out better for you!

Hannah Glenn

Written By

Hannah Glenn

Hannah Glenn is a writer specializing in renewable energy and healthcare. When not 10 inches from a computer screen, Hannah loves hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains and reading National Geographic.

More articles by Hannah Glenn

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