Solar energy provides a lot of benefits to New Yorkers – environmental, financial, and otherwise. But like any kind of investment, there are both pros and cons of solar energy. Installing a rooftop solar system is an investment akin to any other home improvement project, and it’s important to make an informed decision. 

In this article, we’ll break down the top advantages and disadvantages of switching to solar energy in NYC.

Background of Solar Power in NYC

For many years, New York City was stuck in limbo when it came to solar. On one hand, there are over a million rooftops primed and ready to soak up the sun. But on the other hand, the conventional solar business model was developed with suburban homes in mind – those with roofs that are pitched and free of obstructions. 

That’s where Brooklyn SolarWorks came in: our mission was to make solar possible on the flat, obstructed, and even shaded rooftops of NYC. With two solar racking options at our disposal – the tilt rack and the Brooklyn Solar Canopy – we’re bringing solar to the flat roofed buildings of our city.

Solar Panel Installation on Flat-Roofed Brownstone Homes

In addition to skyscrapers, New York City is known for its iconic brownstones, townhouses, and rowhouses. These homes are our strength – we got our start making solar appealing and accessible for the city’s residential neighborhoods. 

A typical solar installation in NYC is relatively simple, requiring only a day to complete with minimal interruption to a homeowner’s routine.

NYC Solar Energy Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages Disadvantages
Clean Energy Reduces Your Carbon Footprint Can Be a Large Initial Investment
Solar Decreases Your Electric Bill from Con Edison Permitting Takes a While in NYC
Rich Solar Tax Incentives Are Available to New Yorkers Aesthetic Concerns
Solar Panels Increase NYC Property Value Solar Battery Storage is Unavailable in NYC
Solar Systems Last for Decades with Little Maintenance Some Roofs in NYC Aren’t Ideal

What are the top 5 advantages of solar energy?

One of the main advantages of solar energy is that is greatly reduces your personal carbon footprint. But there are plenty of other reasons to install home solar too, including excellent financial benefits. We’ve outlined them below.

1. Clean Energy Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

Needless to say, the most important benefit of solar energy is its environmental impact. Solar power is generated by capturing the sun’s energy, making it completely clean. Rather than burning fossil fuels and producing greenhouse gas emissions, you can power your home through a clean alternative. This is better for the planet and for the safety of your family, too.

New York City has some of the most ambitious carbon neutrality goals in the country. By switching to solar, your household’s carbon footprint will be reduced drastically and you’ll be doing your part in the fight against climate change.

2. Solar Decreases Your Electricity Bills from Con Edison

If you’ve been hit with sticker shock upon receiving your Con Edison bill, you’re not alone. As New Yorkers, increasing energy costs have been an unfortunate part of life for us for years. But this doesn’t have to be the case! Producing your own electricity via solar panels means greater energy independence because you’ll be reducing your dependence on natural gas and electricity coming from the power grid. 

Through a program called net metering, your energy bill can be reduced or even eliminated with solar. Your solar system will likely produce more energy than your home needs. The excess energy your system produces is exported into the grid, and Con Edison compensates you for it with retail energy credits applied to your future electric bills. 

Plus: because the utility company values solar power at the retail rate, that means that as their electric rates rise, the value of your solar power will too.

3. Rich Solar Tax Incentives Are Available to New Yorkers

Going solar in New York City is more affordable than you think. NYC solar incentives are some of the best in the country. From federal and state income tax credits, to rebates, to property tax abatements, the incentives available can cover around 70 percent of the cost of your solar power system.

When you go solar with Brooklyn SolarWorks, we’ll make sure you get the savings your project qualifies for. Get in touch with us to learn more.

brooklyn brownstones with solar panels
Solar energy technology is appealing to prospective homeowners in Brooklyn, boosting the value of already coveted real estate.

4. Solar Panels Increase NYC Property Value

A study released by Zillow.com in 2019 determined that across the United States, homes with solar panels see a significant boost in value, averaging a 4.1% premium. But the increase in property value for homes with solar in the New York City metropolitan area was even greater, topping out at 5.4%. This translates to a premium of almost $24,000.

The reason for this boost in value, according to Zillow, is the future electric savings that rooftop solar provides. Producing your own renewable energy through solar panels means having a free, reliable source of energy for decades. For those looking to buy a home, the initial solar premium is worth it because of the savings they’ll see down the road.

5. Solar Systems Last for Decades with Little Maintenance

Rooftop solar energy systems generally require little to no maintenance across their lifetimes. Solar systems are relatively simple with no moving parts. It’s not required that you clean your solar panels – they’re angled so that rainwater and debris can run off naturally. Solar panels are designed to withstand all forms of extreme weather, including heavy snow, hurricanes, and hail. Once your system is installed, it should be the least of your worries. 

In the rare case that there are issues with your solar system, Brooklyn SolarWorks provides 24/7 real-time monitoring and a 30 year total system warranty.

What are the 5 disadvantages of solar energy?

Although solar energy has many benefits, there are a few reasons you may hesitate to make the switch. We’ve noted these disadvantages (and their solutions) below.

1. Can Be a Large Initial Investment

Despite the tax incentives and cost savings, it’s no secret that purchasing a solar panel system carries a significant upfront price tag. Like any home improvement project, solar is an investment. In New York City, the contract price of a residential solar system can be around $35k on average.

Solution: Finance Your Solar System and Avoid Con Ed’s Rate Hikes

We understand that the initial cost of a solar system can seem like a lot. However, it’s an investment in your home that not only increases your property value, but also provides free electricity for decades and reduces your household’s carbon footprint. The savings from relying less on the grid and avoiding utility rate increases typically exceeds $50,000 over time.

Plus, there are a number of financing options available that give you the ability to swap out your monthly payment to Con Ed with a payment on your rooftop solar system. And when it comes time to file your taxes after going solar, you’ll see your contract price reduced by up to 70 percent.

Net meter summary con ed bill solar brooklyn
A solar owner’s Con Ed bill showing a year’s worth of net metering credits stored up.

2. Permitting Takes a While in NYC

As New Yorkers, we know all too well the reality of construction in the city. All construction projects here involve a complex permitting process which can take a while to complete. Depending on the building, like those in designated historic and landmarked districts, there may be extra steps involved too. 

When you sign on to go solar, don’t expect to have your system installed the next day. From contract signing, it can take two to three months for all of the permits to go through on a solar panel installation.

Solution: Work with an Expert in NYC Solar Permitting

Solar is a turn-key business, meaning it’s on the installer to handle all project permitting with various city entities. When it comes to the language of NYC building code and project permitting, the Brooklyn SolarWorks team is fluent. We’ve developed a mastery of city codes over the years. We know how to work with the DOB, Con Edison, NYC’s Landmarks Commission, and other entities to get a solar project permitted. 

When you go solar with us, you can rest assured that even if it takes a couple months, your solar installation will be approved by the city. Learn more by speaking with a specialist.

3. Aesthetic Concerns

When it comes to home improvement projects, everyone has their own taste. Rooftop solar is no different – we respect that homeowners may have aesthetic concerns.

Solution: Custom Solar Designs to Fit Your Needs

We customize our solar system designs to fit our customers’ needs, aesthetic included.

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 sunlight. 

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 aesthetic concerns are at the top of your mind, no need to worry – we’ll work to make solar fit your vision for your home.

4. Solar Battery Storage is Unavailable in NYC

For many homeowners, having the ability to store the solar energy they produce in a battery is a top priority. Since solar batteries store energy at your home, they offer short-term backup power in the event that there’s an outage, providing homeowners with an extra level of energy security.  

Unfortunately, current FDNY fire code makes obtaining a permit to install solar batteries in residential buildings impossible. We’re hoping this will change in the near future.

Solution: Take Advantage of Net Metering and Retrofit Later On

Although we can’t install batteries now, all Brooklyn SolarWorks systems can be retrofitted to accommodate them once they’re allowed.

Plus, we consider net metering to be a virtual battery. Because your net meter tracks the energy your solar system exports to the grid and Con Edison credits you for it, you can still utilize your excess solar production at night, on rainy days, or during the winter months when the sun isn’t shining as bright.

5. Some Roofs in NYC Aren’t Ideal

Solar is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The truth is, some rooftops here in the city aren’t fit for solar. The urban environment can naturally shade or obstruct a roof. If your roof is too small, has too much shade, or experiences other environmental factors, solar may not make sense for you financially.

Solution: Have a Free Roof Analysis Done

The good news is that Brooklyn SolarWorks assesses each and every roof for free prior to even quoting a solar installation. Customers are often told by other solar companies that their roofs are too small or have too many obstructions to make solar work. But because we survey each roof before proposing a solar design, we’ll be able to tell for sure whether or not solar makes sense. (In most cases, it does!)

brooklyn solarworks roof assessment
Brooklyn SolarWorks site surveyor assessing a roof for solar potential.

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint in New York

Even considering these potential disadvantages of solar power, it is still an excellent investment in your home and in the community. If you’re a homeowner in New York City, one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to switch to solar energy. With the buildings in our city creating the majority of our emissions, it’s important that we transition our power supply to renewable energy sources. 

Are you ready to flip the switch to solar? Schedule your free consultation with solar energy pros today.


Solar Energy FAQ

What are the pros and cons of using solar energy for your home?

Some of the main pros of solar energy are that it’s great for the environment, it reduces electricity costs, it provides excellent tax incentives, and it has been proven to increase a home’s resale value. One of the main cons of solar is that the upfront cost can be prohibitive for some, though tax incentives and energy savings overtime can balance that out. Also, not every home is fit for solar panels, but it’s best to have a professional determine your roof’s viability.

Do solar panels increase your property taxes?

Solar panels increase your property value, and can actually reduce your New York City property taxes. The NYC Property Tax Abatement for solar allows NYC homeowners to claim 20% of solar energy system costs as a property tax abatement with the NYC Department of Finance. When you go solar, your property taxes are significantly reduced over a 4 year term.

Can you still have a high electric bill with solar panels?

In most cases, solar energy drastically reduces or eliminates an average home’s monthly electric bills. Many solar owners in New York City produce enough power to fully cover their family’s energy needs and then some.

Are there tax benefits for solar panels?

The federal government provides a 30% tax credit for installing home solar. On top of that, New York City has some of the best tax benefits for solar panels in the country on the state and city level. NYC homeowners can see their installation covered by up to 70% through tax incentives.

Is solar energy good for the environment?

Solar energy is great for the environment. It’s a renewable source of energy that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. By switching your home’s power source to solar, you’ll greatly reduce your individual carbon footprint.

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