Solar panel placement pro-tip…


Within reason, and if you can avoid shadows, a ground mount is better than a roof mount – especially in snow country. If you do live in snow country, be sure you build the mount high enough to allow for snow accumulation below the panels. But low enough to let you clean the panels with a long-handled squeegee.


Almost all the early panels in my neighborhood, including my original pair, were mounted on roofs for what seemed at the time excellent reasons. They’re out of the way, shadow-free, and – I dunno – closer to heaven or something. It just seems like the instinctive thing to do. But at 65 years old I’m the youngest full-timer in my neighborhood, and working a long-handled squeegee while balancing on an ice-covered aluminum ladder on a frigid morning is a good way to not get any older. I usually just clean my lower panels and leave the roof-mounted ones for the sun. But my neighbors don’t have the luxury of that flexibility.

Just think twice about roof mounts, is all I’m saying. They might be necessary in your area due to space restrictions or shadows, or maybe you don’t have to worry about snow. Fine, but you’ll still have to clean them from time to time.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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3 Responses to Solar panel placement pro-tip…

  1. RCPete says:

    I had to do a ground mount for the 12-panel system by the well/pump shed; I wasn’t going to make a roof that big, and the house has too much shade. Our county has a quick’n’easy permit process for roof mount systems, but ground mount is too much.

    The mounting hardware people had a first pass at a design, but TPTB insisted on a fully engineered one. The wind load was higher than the first pass. We can get some impressive winds in storms, though the hurricane force gusts are *usually* 30 miles away.

    Still, had to have a 105mph design, 3″ pipe, 8′ holes, and a full truckload of concrete for them. That all needed a crew and some big checks, but the payoff was cleaning the last storm’s worth of snow with a broom head on a telescoping painting handle. Took longer to clear the path to the array than to clean it.

  2. Zelda says:

    Having done my share of time balancing on an ice covered aluminum ladder, have you all ever considered one or more fiberglass ladders like Werner with the steps appropriately modified for a stable footing? Surprised you all are doing the aluminum ladder thing given your ages and location. More excitement and challenge to my physical abilities than I care to have at this point in my life. They are less expensive than hospital bills. Just saying.

  3. Sabrina Morris says:

    What would it take to find a few acres and a place to live?

To the stake with the heretic!