Ground-mount racks are made of a mix of aluminum and steel poles, rails, and channel attached to ground-anchoring structures—working together to provide the strength to resist live loads (like wind and snow that exert variable uplift and downward pressure) and dead loads (the weight of the rack and modules). While it’s possible to scratch-build a ground-mount, it is rarely advisable. The engineering and testing that go into manufacturers’ designs take the guesswork out of ground-mounting a PV array, and the end result is likely to be cheaper, sturdier, longer-lasting, better engineered, and quicker to install than a homemade rack.
Ground-mounted PV modules are arranged in one or more rows, in either a landscape or portrait configuration. A common layout for larger arrays is two rows of modules in a portrait configuration, but smaller array layouts vary substantially, depending on the number of modules. Care should be taken when specifying a design to match the number of modules and series strings with the layout to ensure a symmetrical final product with the shortest possible cable and conduit routes.