Solar Array Types

There are three main types of installation methods for solar panels: roof-mounted, ground-mounted, and carports. These installation types accomplish different goals and what works best for one school may not be the best for another.

Rooftop Solar Arrays

A roof mount is the most common type of installation. This is when the solar racking, which holds the panels in place, is installed directly on the roof. Panels can be attached to flat or sloping roofs consisting of metal, shingle, or rubber materials. Roof mounts utilize space that otherwise wouldn’t be used, and typically the installation cost is lower compared to a ground-mounted system. These installations do not take up land that could be utilized for other activities and the panels can even protect the roof from exposure to certain elements.

Ground-Mount Solar Arrays

Ground-mounted arrays are very common and generally have the greatest production per kW. They can be installed in any direction or location, or at multiple angles, positioning them for optimal energy production. The system can easily be accessed for maintenance but they require open ground-area and can be shaded by nearby trees, power poles, and buildings


Solar carports are overhead canopies built to cover parking areas. Both ground mount solar and solar carports eliminate the need for a surface on which the panels could be mounted and each offers the benefit of allowing installers to orient the panels at the most optimal angle for sunlight exposure. However, solar panel carports offer a more efficient use of space than ground-mounted panels.

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Last Updated: 6/18/2020

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