Not only does going solar benefit the planet, it benefits your wallet too. It will drastically reduce your electric bill, and you can take advantage of some of the best solar tax credits in the country as a New Yorker.
We want to make sure our customers understand the entire solar panel installation process, so that they can get the savings and credit they deserve for switching to clean energy. That’s why we believe it’s important that we let our customers know what to expect, even after the installation. We’re here for you and your new flat roof solar system!
Read on for what you can expect in the weeks and months post solar panel installation.
What happens after your solar panels are installed?
The Brooklyn SolarWorks crew has just left your home after completing your solar installation. You might be thinking: what’s next?
The next step in the solar process is receiving final approval from the various entities that issued permits for the installation. This involves inspections and a meter swap, all of which Brooklyn SolarWorks will schedule and facilitate – all you need to do is grant us access to your home on the scheduled dates.
The Department of Buildings requires that each installation is inspected to ensure compliance with building and electrical codes. In this inspection, a representative will check over your installer’s work to make sure, for example, that the panels were mounted securely and that the electrical wiring was done correctly.
Once your solar panel system is installed, Con Edison will also pay a visit to your home to do a final inspection and swap out your old meter for a net meter. This device enables net metering to take place, ensuring that you receive the proper credit for the amount of energy your system exports to the grid.
Once Con Edison issues a final acceptance letter, your system will be given permission to operate (PTO). This means the system is registered in their billing system and it’s ready to be activated in your home’s electrical system. This is done by turning on the AC disconnect switch or dedicated solar breaker in your electrical panel. We’ll provide instructions or stop by to assist.
How to Read Your Electric Bill from Your Utility Company
Getting your first ConEd bill after your solar panel installation is an exciting moment. It can be a bit confusing though, because ConEdison does a poor job of explaining their billing and recordkeeping system.
Below is an example of what your bill will look like after installing solar panels. The following is a quick breakdown of each section on your new bill and what it all means.
Your Net Meter Summary
This new section lists ConEd’s record of how much energy you’ve bought from them. It also tells you how many credits (if any) you have stored up through their net metering program.
Your Electricity Usage
If your house required more electricity than your solar array produced in a month, the value will be positive. This is because you bought some extra from the grid to make up the difference.
If your system produced more energy than you needed in a month, the value will be negative because you gave away your excess to the grid.
In other words, this first column should read ‘Your Grid Electricity Use.’ It indicates how much energy from the grid your home used that month.
How to Read Your Net Meter Summary
Cumulative Net Meter Energy Credit
The negative value from the previous column gets stored in this column. ‘Cumulative Net Meter Energy Credit’ is your “bank” of stored up solar credits.
If your grid use in the first column is negative in a given month, that amount will get added to the previous month’s banked amount.
If your grid use is positive, that amount will be withdrawn from your credit bank if you have any.
If your credit bank hits zero, ConEd will charge you for any remaining amount of power. The last column lists this amount as ‘kWh Billed.’
Note: If you get an unusual bill, it’s good to check the reading type. If the most recent reading says ‘Estimated’, ConEd didn’t take a true reading this month. Your bill may be much different than what really happened. They often incorrectly estimate that recently installed systems are not active. In this case, they will take a true reading within a month or two and correct for any overcharges.
Understanding Your Energy Consumption
You may need to do some math in order to get the full picture of your home’s energy consumption. One confusing factor here is that ConEd cannot see how much power your solar system generates. All they can see is how much power you take from or give to the grid.
We’ve created the chart below to show how adding your Sunny Portal production data to your ‘Net Meter Summary’ can give the complete picture of your home’s energy consumption.
For example, if your solar system produced 598 kWh between September 10th and October 9th, but 411 kWh were sent back to the grid, that means your home consumed 187 kWh in that period.
Similarly, if your system produced 498 kWh between February 11th and March 12th, and an additional 157 were brought in from the grid, that means your home consumed a total of 655 kWh.
Keep this in mind if you need to figure out your home’s true electric consumption for any reason, or if you’re interested in determining your true solar offset percentage for a given month or year (Solar Production divided by Actual Home Usage).
If you have trouble finding your solar production numbers, please let us know and we can direct you to them. Also, feel free to reach out if you believe there are issues with your solar system’s performance.
If you believe there is a problem with your billing, contact ConEd’s Net Metering division at email@example.com or 212-780-6600. Remember, they cannot see how much energy your system has produced.
Claiming Your Solar Tax Credits
The final step in the solar process is an exciting one: collecting your tax credits! When tax season arrives, there are a few different tax credits your system may be eligible for. We can provide some basic information and resources on these credits, but because we are not financial professionals, be sure to look to an accountant or tax expert for guidance on filing.
For filing purposes, your installation date and signed contract are available in your customer portal.
You May Be Eligible for These Solar Tax Credits:
- The Federal Solar Income Tax Credit: an income tax credit worth up to 30% of your installation costs.
- The New York State Solar Income Tax Credit: a state income tax credit worth up to $5,000.
- The NYC Property Tax Abatement: allows NYC homeowners to claim 20% of solar energy system costs as a property tax abatement over a 4 year period.
- NYS Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation Credit: If you live in a qualifying historic neighborhood, your solar installation may be eligible for an additional 20% tax credit.
Learn more about the solar tax incentives available to New Yorkers.
Monitoring Your System with Your Solar Company
When your solar PV system is installed, the solar system’s inverter will be connected to your home’s WiFi. This connection enables your new solar panels’ production data to be collected in your Sunny Portal. This allows you to track your system’s energy production and determine your offset, if you feel so inclined.
Connecting your system to WiFi also allows us, your solar installer, to monitor your system remotely. As part of our insurance package, we provide all of our customers with 24/7 real-time monitoring in the event that there are any issues with your system at any point in the future.
Enjoy the Many Benefits of Your New Solar System
The use of solar energy is important for a number of reasons, and it’s an exciting moment to finally have your rooftop solar system installed. Once your system is installed, you have access to clean energy produced right in your own home.
Because switching to solar power is such a meaningful decision, it’s important to us that all of our customers fully understand the solar panel installation process, from contract signing through post solar panel installation.
Ready to make the switch to solar for your NYC home? Trust an expert. Talk with us today!
If you’ve been considering installing solar on your flat roof, you might have been wondering about how the condition of your existing roof could impact an installation. Many homeowners have concerns about whether they need to make repairs or get a new roof before installing solar power, but most of the information available is geared toward pitched roofs with shingles as opposed to our flat roofs in NYC.
We want you to know that while these concerns are legitimate – it’s one of the first things we’ll look at, in fact – roof condition is typically not an obstacle to going solar on a flat roof. In the case that your roof needs repairs or replacement, you have options that do not prevent you from proceeding with your residential solar panel installation. Let’s dive into the details.
The Importance of a Quality Roof When Installing Solar Panels
Needless to say, your roof is the foundation of a flat roof solar installation. Naturally, having a stable foundation is of the utmost importance when installing solar panels – in fact, one of the first things we’ll evaluate before moving forward with your solar project is the condition of your roof. But in most cases, there are no issues that require roof replacement or repair before going solar. Our solar installations are lightweight, and do not require a rooftop to be reinforced.
Every project we do is approved by a structural engineer, and the details we collect on site are used in their calculations. When we perform a site evaluation, there’s a few main things we check to ensure stability and optimal solar performance.
Your Flat Roof’s Age
When you contact us about solar, one of the first questions we’ll ask is how old your roof is. With that said, there is no true “ideal” age for a solar installation as every roof has a unique aging experience depending on wind exposure and weathering over time. We’ve installed solar systems on roofing membranes that are 15 years or older without issue. Because every roof is different, we’ll want to evaluate your specific roof to determine its current condition.
Damages to the Flat Roof Surface
Over the course of a roof’s lifetime, it will likely incur damages to its surface. When we evaluate your roof, we’ll keep an eye out for things like curled or corroded flashing, water damage or “ponding,” cracks in the surface, and broken seals. These are generally of little concern and can be repaired at any point before or after going solar.
Flat Roof Orientation and Layout
Another important quality we evaluate is a roof’s solar potential. When it comes to flat roofs, this is often dictated by the amount of shade casted by neighboring buildings and any obstructions on the roof’s surface. Because we have two different solar panel mounting options, both the solar canopy and tilt racks, we can typically work around obstructions and angle your panels for the maximum energy output.
Questions about solar potential on your flat roof? Contact us to speak with a solar specialist.
Why You Don’t Need a New Flat Roof Before Installing Solar Panels
It is generally not necessary to fully replace a flat roof before choosing to go solar. The damages we see most often with our customers’ roofs are minimal and can be repaired at any point, even after the installation.
In this way, flat roofs have an advantage over pitched roofs when it comes to solar. Flat roofs allow for easy maintenance after a solar installation, while solar panel removal is required for repairs on pitched roofs.
But, there are some exceptions. In the rare case that your flat roof has more serious deterioration – an area is sunken in, there are recurring leaks, the surface feels uneven or unstable – we would always advise you to do what is necessary for the health of your roof before offering a solar installation. Though these issues are not common, the condition of your roof comes first. We would not move forward with an installation of solar panels if we believe your roof to be unstable.
What options are available for repairing or replacing your roof before or after your solar installation?
Many of the issues we see are the more slight surface level damages needing minor repairs. In these cases, you have options that don’t delay your flat roof solar installation. For example, many of our customers choose to reseal their roofs while waiting for the permitting process to be completed (which can take three to four months).
If parts of your roof need to be reflashed after installation for instance, solar panel removal is not necessary. Our solar panel systems use standard roofing materials and equipment that can be flashed around just like any other protruding objects on the roof.
Many homes in NYC have complex HVAC systems that make repairs and roof replacement far more challenging than solar does – and those rooftops are maintained just fine.
Are the additional costs of my roof repairs included in my solar installation cost when filing for the federal solar tax credit?
You may wonder if any roof repairs you have done before your solar installation can be claimed when you file for the federal solar tax credit. In past iterations of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), there has been some gray area as to what expenses are covered. However, the IRS currently has a clear definition of qualifying expenses:
“You may be able to take a credit of 26%* of your costs of qualified solar electric property…Include any labor costs properly allocable to the onsite preparation, assembly, or original installation of the residential energy efficient property and for piping or wiring to interconnect such property to the home.
…Qualified solar electric property costs are costs for property that uses solar energy to generate electricity for use in your home located in the United States.”IRS Instructions for Form 5695
By this definition, the following expenses are covered:
- The cost of the system, including panels, racking, inverters, and other equipment
- Labor costs, including installation and permitting and inspection fees
- Solar batteries
- Any applicable sales taxes
Further, the tax code explicitly states that “structural components such as a roof’s decking or rafters that serve only a roofing or structural function” do not qualify for the credit. For this reason, it is our interpretation that roof replacement is not a qualifying expense.
Some solar companies may tell you that you can repair or replace your roof in tandem with installing solar panels and claim the roofing costs under the ITC. It’s a good idea to be cautious of this – we don’t want you and your family to be audited. Consult with a tax professional for guidance.
*This quote was taken from the 2021 tax code, when the tax credit only accounted for 26% of installation costs. As of August 2022, it was boosted to 30%.
Who can repair or replace a roof in NYC?
If you do choose to have roof repairs or replacement done, it’s important to recognize that roofing and solar are two separate jobs. Some solar installation companies offer roofing services and some roofing companies offer solar installations for cost-saving purposes. We do not – we believe in leaving roof work to the roofing experts while we handle the solar. We install almost exclusively on hundred year old flat buildings in the city, and are experts in how to safely and effectively attach to century-old homes.
Because roofing and solar are two separate projects, it’s best that you choose a quality installer for each one. You wouldn’t want a roofer installing solar as an afterthought, or vice versa – you’ll want to make the best choice of each type of contractor. We’ve worked alongside a number of local roofing contractors that we are happy to recommend if you choose to go that route.
Installing Solar Panels on Your Flat Roof in New York City
We want to reiterate that although we don’t deny the necessity of a quality, stable roof before installing solar, flat roof condition is generally not something that will impede your ability to go solar. In the case that your roof has a broken seal or needs to be reflashed, for example, there are options that won’t delay your solar installation.
Brooklyn SolarWorks is committed to a high-quality solar panel installation in NYC. This means starting with the foundation. If we determine your flat roof to be in need of replacement or bigger repairs before installing solar, we won’t rush into a solar installation until your roof is complete.
Ready to go solar on your flat roof? Schedule a free consultation today!