In today’s residential solar market, many installers specialize in strictly rooftop projects. However, it’s not always possible – or even the best decision,

How Earth Anchor Foundation Technology Simplifies Ground-Mounted Solar for Installers

Product Article from | Nuance Energy

In today’s residential solar market, many installers specialize in strictly rooftop projects. However, it’s not always possible – or even the best decision, to install solar on rooftops due to:

  •  Obstacles, vents, and insufficient space
  •  Shading from nearby trees and buildings
  •  Lack of structural support (i.e. old roofs)
  •  Wrong roof azimuth for optimal solar production

These hurdles are why many installers explore ground-mounted solar options instead.

Oftentimes, this approach presents its own set of installation challenges:

  • Heavy machinery to drill holes or drive piles into the ground
  • Costly excavations 
  • Geotechnical reports and inspections can both cause delays
  • Unforeseen obstacles delay or increase mobilization costs
  • Large, highly skilled teams are often required

It’s not uncommon for installers to “revisit” rooftop solar after troubles with ground-mount appear. In their minds, rooftop installations are just easier.

What if that wasn’t the case? 

With the OSPREY PowerRack®, earth anchor foundation technology eliminates many of these challenges – allowing installers to complete ground-mounted solar projects faster, cheaper, and with far fewer hassles.

In addition to helping your team save both money and time, this trailblazing earth anchor foundation technology, which received multiple USPTO patents in 2021 (US PAT# 10,622,938 and US PAT# 11,271,520), can also help open new revenue streams. This is particularly true during the winter months when many installers forgo ground-mounted projects completely – due to frozen terrain and heavy snow.

But what is Earth Anchor Foundation Technology, and how do they work?


The OSPREY PowerRack’s Earth Anchor Foundation Technology at a Glance

As the name suggests, Earth Anchor Foundation Technology provides the requisite stability for holding ground-mounted solar racking systems in place. They perform the same function that concrete piers, steel piles, or helical screws do for traditional racking systems, but their benefits far surpass these methods.

1. Installation Ease 

Earth Anchor Foundation Technology can quickly be installed into the ground using nothing but handheld tools such as rotary hammers with drill bits and can be pull tested by Nuance Energy’s PowerJACK Mini™. These inexpensive tools are what most installers already have or can easily rent or buy from Nuance Energy.

Part of this installation ease stems from the earth anchor’s unique design:

  • No need to excavate the ground or pour cement since each aluminum and or hot-dip galvanized earth anchor bores easily into the ground using carefully designed penetrating teeth
  • Installers also don’t have to worry about rocks, frozen ground, or difficult terrain because the earth anchor’s footprint is minimal – being only a few inches in diameter
  • No need to grade the ground since the OSPREY PowerRack has independently adjustable leg supports with more than 27” of span

OSPREY PowerRacks with earth anchor foundation technology are so easy to install that they don’t require any specialized training (or specialized labor). Think of it as easy as assembling a bookshelf from IKEA.

It takes less than one hour to be trained how to install the racking system and pull testing earth anchor foundation technology with the PowerJACK Mini™.

  • Nuance Energy Group’s support team is always ready to help.
  • Demo Days hosted throughout the calendar year.

The OSPREY’s easy installation is in sharp contrast to what most conventional ground-mounted solutions require, including excavations, pipe procurement and cutting, rental equipment, cement mixers, and heavy machinery.

Traditional ground mount racking systems also require specialized teams that can properly use the above tools once they arrive on-site and there is always the risk of damaging rental equipment when installing ground-mounted solar in rocky terrain or frozen soil.


2. Installation Speed

The OSPREY’s unrivaled and proprietary earth anchor foundation technology provides your teams with the ability to deploy solar projects much faster in the field:

  • A 3-4 person crew can quickly install a 6kW – 8kW PV system in under an hour with simple hand held tools.
  • A 2MW commercial project that might normally take 60 days can be completed in about 16 days.

In addition, because our Earth Anchor Foundation Technology is seated into position in real time soil conditions, every anchor is tested to a prescribed 1.5X the load (local AHJ) upon installation. This feature as well as the anchors minimal footprint removes the need for geotechnical reporting and costly inspections – both of which can cause delays or result in budget overruns for commercial solar projects.

The OSPREY’s unique modular design also allows you to perform uplift anchor load tests on the spot. If the results aren’t satisfactory, simply drive another anchor. You can easily “lift” and “shift” the entire racking system to a better location should this be desirable. None of this is possible when traditional racking is already cemented permanently to the ground using traditional stabilization technologies.

This portability, speed and ease of install are just several reasons why the OSPREY PowerRack® is the ground-mounted solar racking system of choice for Freedom Forever, the 2nd largest residential solar installer in the USA.


3. Installation Cost

Instead of staffing large, specialized crews for weeks at a time, the OSPREY PowerRack allows you to use smaller, less-skilled teams for just hours per project. In fact, what you’ll save in per diems alone makes the OSPREY’s patented Earth Anchor Foundation Technology a more cost-effective solution than traditional ground-mounted solar racking systems.

However, the savings for residential installers don’t stop there.

The OSPREY’s streamlined, modular design also means less procurement of parts and faster deployment – allowing you to complete more ground-mounted solar PV projects for a fraction of the usual cost.

For example, a 15kW residential project with your team mobilized to site by 8AM can be ready for electrical by 10AM. Compared to conventional solar racking systems that’s super-fast, so don’t forget to brings panels that day.


4. Installation Stability

Solar contractors who install traditional ground-mounted solar racking have a tendency to procure overbuilt and over engineered racking systems – and with good reason. Installers want to maximize the support and structural integrity of the racking.

However, this approach inevitably leads to higher costs and longer delays.

The OSPREY PowerRacks’s earth anchor foundation technology can safely be installed in practically all terrain – even when working with frozen ground or heavy snow loads. This is because the “hold down” strength can exceed 2.5 tons per anchor thanks to the 26 ft.³ of soil above each earth anchor.

This historically trusted technology is even used by:

  • The Department of Transportation uses Earth Anchor Foundation Technology for retaining walls on freeways all over the country.
  • Utility companies routinely rely on earth anchor technology to stabilize high-tension power lines.


One Final OSPREY Benefit: Entirely New Revenue Streams

Many installers won’t even touch ground-mounted solar project opportunities due to:

  • Don’t know how to do it or bad experiences in the past
  • Concerns about project cost overruns, multiple mobilization efforts that bleed into their residential roof top installation calendar taking men off roofs and
  • the logistics to organize and pay for numerous outsourced 3rd party vendors and services

Alternatively, for them, they think it’s often more practical to focus exclusively on rooftop solar projects.

By eliminating many of these operational and logistical concerns, the OSPREY allows your team to get back into the ground-mounted solar game to drive new revenue and even back on rooftops making you more money faster.

These benefits exist even in the dead of winter when:

  • Ground-mounted solar isn’t normally possible
  • Rooftop solar isn’t necessarily safe or practical

As an added bonus, the modular OSPREY PowerRack can easily be relocated while leaving the original site pristine. This portability offers peace of mind for those who want to go solar but fear forfeiting their investment if they ever move during the time it takes for their residential solar (PV) systems to break even.

In short, the OSPREY PowerRack can create an entirely new revenue stream for your residential solar installation business.  When ground-mounted solar is the best option, the OSPREY just makes sense. 


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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