The simple answer is yes, solar can be installed on a flat roof. In fact, much of the solar energy installed on buildings in the U.S. today is installed on flat roofs—mostly residing on commercial structures.
There are two common types of flat roof solar installations—ballasted solar arrays and roof penetrating (pitch pocket) solar arrays. To learn the difference between the two types of installations and which one is right for you, read on below.
Installing Solar on a Flat Roof with a Ballasted System
The easiest way to install solar on a flat roof is to do it with a ballasted system. A ballasted solar system is a system that is not directly attached to your building in any way. Instead, the solar panel racking is held in place by a system of weights that prevent it from moving.
While this may seem less secure that a mounting system that involves fastening racking to your buildings frame, ballasted systems must meet the same weather specifications as any other system.
Ballasted systems are preferred by many home and business owners because they require less labor and since there are no roof penetrations, there is no opportunity for roof leaks resulting from the solar installation.
So why then would anyone not install a ballasted system on a flat roof? Weight capacity. If your roof cannot safely handle the weight load of a ballasted system, it must be re-enforced, adding considerable cost to your solar project. A cheaper and less timely alternative is to simply opt for a roof penetrating pitch pocket installation.
Installing Solar on a Flat Roof with a Pitch Pocket System
A pitch pocket solar installation is a roofing mounting solution that involves roof penetrations to attach the solar racking to your building’s frame. On a traditional pitch pocket installation, metal boots or pipe sleeves are used to protect the roof penetration from water leakage.
A pitch pocket system has significantly less weight than a ballasted solar system, so it is ideal for roofs with low load-bearing weight limits, but it comes with added risk of roof leakage if it is poorly installed.
Want to Learn More About Solar?
If you have a flat roof and want to learn more about installing a solar array on it in the San Diego area, give us a call or fill out a contact form. Our solar technicians can discuss the options that are available to you, assess your home’s solar potential, and even provide you with production and return on investment estimates!
Contact us today to get started.