Joseph Eichler, a real estate developer working in California in the 1950s and ’60s, collaborated with renowned architects to build some 11,000 of his trademark tract houses across the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Inspired by his time living in a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Eichler wanted to take Wright’s design ideas and make them accessible to middle-class home buyers.
Eichler homes were built in the mid-century modern style and are known for large windows, open floor plans and minimal roof insulation on their original tar & gravel flat roofs. These designs are usually not very energy efficient, so solar is always a good option to increase sustainability and lower the utility costs of living in an Eichler. As long as there is roof space (Eichlers tend to have plenty) or space for a ground mount, solar is the way to go.
Eichler homes are often characterized by their flat, tar & gravel or foam roofs which are durable and long-lasting, however installing solar panels on an Eichler roof can present a few unique challenges compared to installing on a traditional roof.
Having installed solar on more than a hundred Eichler homes, SolarCraft has the experience and expertise to install on these flat roofs, while many other companies will not touch them.
Below are some of the common challenges of installing a solar electric system on Eichler homes:
Eichlers don’t have an attic or crawlspace, so there’s not a lot of opportunity to hide the conduit —although not often visible on the flat roof. Another consideration is the placement of wiring, which is on the roof the majority of the time. Oftentimes foam roofing conceals where the wiring is.
The spacing required for the solar racking is also a challenge, as Eichler have wide and varying spacing of the roof beams, and anything over a six-foot span requires special solar racking that SolarCraft has become quite familiar with installing. Eichlers are like snowflakes, no two are the same!
The flat, and often foam, roofs of Eichlers can sometimes have drainage issues, which can be further complicated by the addition of solar panels. To ensure that the roof can properly drain after rain, it’s important to make sure that the installation process doesn’t interfere with the existing drainage systems.
The flat roof designs of Eichlers, however, also offer an advantage when installing solar: There is no pitch or sloping roof for the installers to be concerned with, so it’s easier and much safer to work on. Also, the flat roof allows for panel placement flexibility to maximize exposure to the sun.
Installing solar panels on an Eichler roof requires careful planning and consideration. SolarCraft has extensive experience working with the unique challenges these homes present. SolarCraft Eichler solar installations are designed at a low profile, maximizing sun exposure while preserving the unique architectural aesthetics. Our team of experienced technicians has the knowledge and skills to ensure that your solar panel installation is hassle-free and meets all local building codes and regulations.
If you’re interested in installing solar panels on your Eichler roof, we would be happy to provide you with a free, no-obligation quote. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you take advantage of the abundant California sunshine and slash your PG&E bill!