If you’re considering solar, you’ve most likely heard that going solar in NYC is too expensive. Perhaps you’ve heard solar panels won’t hold up during hurricanes or that they make homes look unappealing.
Don’t worry, we’ve heard the same. We’re here to let you know that these ideas are totally false! In this article, we’ll go through the most common solar misconceptions we hear and prove them to be pure myths.
Myth: Flat roofs can’t go solar.
For many years, this was a common belief in the solar industry. Most solar contractors in the area had embraced methods and practices that were developed for the suburban customer and home. As a result, the industry as a whole avoided the borough’s dense residential neighborhoods and iconic flat roof townhomes.
We’ve built Brooklyn SolarWorks as a business to close this gap. This has meant pioneering entirely new design and installation methods that match the unique characteristics of the local housing stock. We’ve also acquired a mastery of the City’s complex code, zoning and permitting rules. We specifically developed our most famous innovation — the patented, award-winning Brooklyn Solar Canopy — to make solar viable on townhome roofs.
BSW systems have also undergone extensive testing: our canopy can hold around 48,000 pounds. This means it can withstand a blizzard’s worth of snow and over 120 mph winds — exceeding the city’s wind requirements. (For reference, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, the highest recorded wind speed was 80 mph.)
To ensure maximum stability, we bolt our systems to the roof’s underlying rafters. We use a UL listed product called OMG to attach our solar components to the roof decking. These watertight connections ensure stability in times of harsh NYC weather.
Myth: There aren’t any financial benefits to going solar in NYC.
Going solar is absolutely worth it! As a New Yorker, you can take advantage of some of the best solar tax incentives in the country.
But that’s not all: going solar will reduce (or eliminate!) your electric bill. While solar won’t disconnect your home from Con Edison, it will decrease your dependence on energy coming from the grid.
Your solar system will likely produce more energy than your home even needs. This excess energy will be sent back into the grid, but ConEd will return it to you in the form of retail energy credits applied toward your future electric bills (this is a program called Net Metering). These credits can drastically reduce your monthly payments to ConEd or even eliminate them altogether. Making the switch to solar just makes financial sense.
Myth: Solar in NYC is too expensive.
The solar tax incentives available to New Yorkers can cover around 60 percent of the cost of your solar system come tax season.
But for that remaining 40 percent, the way you pay is up to you. There are a number of financing options available, such as New York State-backed loans. We like to tell our customers that if you’re paying taxes and your electric bill, you can afford to go solar.
The total cost of our systems average around $35,000, but vary depending on system size. While this number may seem a bit out of reach, it’s more affordable than you think.
Myth: Solar systems look unappealing and they’ll make your home unattractive.
We respect that homeowners may have aesthetic concerns. That’s why we customize our solar system designs to fit our customers’ needs.
Our canopy design is our pride and joy. It’s a patented, award-winning design that we created in collaboration with Situ Studio to make solar accessible on city rooftops. Many of our customers love it because it allows you to create a living space on your rooftop while still producing energy from the sun.
But canopies aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and sometimes aren’t the best option for every roof anyway. Tilt racks, for example, are angled, closer to the roof surface, and can be installed so that the system is not visible from the street.
If you’re still not convinced, a 2019 study by Zillow found that solar increases home resale value by an average of 4.1% across the country. The study found that the solar boost was higher in the New York metro area than the national average, topping out at 5.4%. The NYC solar premium was 1.8% more than it is statewide. That’s an extra $23,989 in value for solar home owners in the five boroughs. Sounds like solar is pretty attractive after all!
Myth: Solar systems require a lot of cleaning and maintenance.
Solar systems require very little maintenance. You don’t need to clean your panels. Your solar array is angled so that rainwater can run off naturally, taking with it any build up and debris. If you do choose to clean your panels, however, avoid harsh detergents and metal or hard plastic brushes that could scratch the glass.
You also don’t need to clean snow off of your panels and we don’t recommend it. The power you may miss out on during a snowstorm is minimal. It’s not worth risking a trip up to an icy rooftop.
Myth: Solar doesn’t work when it’s not sunny.
While it’s true that your solar system will produce less when it’s very cloudy or snowy, Con Edison’s Net Metering program allows you to utilize solar even when the system’s not actively producing.
In short, your system produces a lot of excess energy when it’s sunny. Con Ed will return this excess energy to you in retail energy credits. You can use these when the sun’s not shining at night or on a cloudy day.
Myth: The area under the solar canopy has to stay empty.
One of the great things about the canopy design is having the ability to utilize the space underneath by creating your own rooftop living space. Our customers have created some incredible Green Roof spaces over the years.
Myth: Landmarked homes can’t go solar in NYC.
Landmark status used to be considered disqualifying for solar, but not anymore!
For these homes, solar installations must be completely invisible from all angles on street level, front and back. We’ve developed zero visibility installation methods, and have mastered the City’s complex landmarks design and application rules.
As a result, solar is not only possible on these formerly “no go” properties, but landmarked homes are now among our most common project types in Park Slope, Bedford Stuyvesant, Sunset Park and other historic neighborhoods.
Myth: Solar canopies can be installed closer to the roof surface.
Our canopies are elevated to nine feet above the roof’s surface to comply with current FDNY fire code. This one is out of our hands!
Myth: BSW chooses not to offer solar battery storage.
This is another design factor that is unfortunately out of our hands. FDNY has specific policies surrounding solar battery installations in residential buildings that currently make obtaining a permit impossible. Although we can’t install batteries now, all BSW systems can be retrofitted to accommodate a battery once they are allowed.
Also, we consider Con Edison’s Net Metering Program to be a kind of virtual battery. Net Metering is a billing mechanism that allows you to store your excess solar energy as retail energy credits to be used at a later date. So, you can still utilize your solar production even when the sun isn’t shining, just like a physical battery.
There are countless myths about NYC solar out there. Nevertheless, going solar will always make sense: for your wallet, for your home, and for the planet.
Making the switch to solar is a big decision. That’s why we’re here to clear up any misconceptions and answer any questions you have throughout the process.
In 2015, Brooklyn SolarWorks landed in Gowanus with a mission to bring affordable flat roof solar to local homeowners. We’ve overcome barriers to develop industry-leading approaches to permitting, design, and…