If you’re looking into solar power for your home, you may have questions about how long you can expect your solar panels to last. You may have heard that solar requires a lot of maintenance, or that you’ll have to throw your panels out after a few years. 

The good news is that when you go solar, you can expect your solar panels to last a long time with little to no maintenance – decades, in fact! Read on to learn the real deal on solar panel lifespan and degradation.

What is the typical lifespan of solar panels?

The average lifespan of solar panels is about 25 to 30 years. But it’s important to remember that a solar panel’s “lifespan” is only representative of how long they’re expected to produce at max efficiency – not when they’ll go out of service completely. By year 25, high quality panels will still be producing at 90%+ efficiency, but you may begin to see a downtick in power output in the coming years.

This means that you can expect to continue relying on your panels for much longer than their predicted lifespan. In fact, there are solar systems installed back in the 1980s that are still operational!

What is solar degradation?

Though you can expect your solar panels to provide you with clean energy for decades, they will likely degrade overtime. Solar panel degradation is a natural process that occurs over the lifetime of the technology, due to uncontrollable factors like chemical processes and extreme temperatures. 

All solar panel models come with a measured degradation rate. A lower degradation rate means better performance and greater output overtime.

What causes solar degradation and inefficiencies in NYC?

Natural Processes

Some of the most common forms of degradation are naturally occurring mechanical or chemical processes, such as light-induced degradation (LID). Exposure to direct sunlight and UV radiation for the first time can cause chemical reactions that create slight inefficiencies before stabilizing overtime. Potential-induced degradation (PID) can cause voltage leaks if two of the panel’s components operate at different voltages.

Extreme Weather Conditions

Over the course of a solar panel’s lifetime on a roof in NYC, it’ll stand strong against many types of weather. But heatwaves, hurricanes, and snowstorms all have the potential to increase the rate of aging-related degradation if dramatic changes in temperature or high winds cause any damage. Seasonal solar panel performance is generally not something to be worried about, but there are rare instances where this could occur.

Manufacturing and Installation Issues

Like any manufactured product or appliance, solar panel system performance can suffer due to manufacturing or installation issues, like poor workmanship, mishandling, and the use of low quality materials. This is why it’s important to choose a solar provider that invests in high quality panels and top-notch installers. 

Does the manufacturer play a role in degradation?

As with any industry, not all solar panel manufacturers are the same. Unfortunately, some try to cut costs by using low quality or incompatible materials, or fail to assemble panels correctly. Thankfully, this is quite rare, and most manufacturers provide warranties. But when you go solar, it’s important to take note of what kind of panels your solar power company chooses to use.

The solar industry uses a tiering system to rate the overall quality of solar panel models, and solar panel degradation rate is a major factor in that ranking. Tier 1 solar panels, the highest quality on the market, have a degradation rate of no more than 0.3% per year. This equates to an excellent 93% efficiency by year 25. Tier 2 panels are around a 0.5% rate of degradation, while Tier 3 is 0.8% or more.

Tier 1 and Tier 2 panels are both terrific options for long-term performance, though Tier 1 will be slightly better in the long run. To maximize your return on investment, it’s important to choose a solar installer that uses high quality solar panels. REC, our go-to panel provider, boasts degradation rates of only 0.25% per year. 

Are you an NYC homeowner ready to make the switch to solar energy? Schedule a free consultation today.

Do you have to replace solar panels over time?

Reaching your 25th solar anniversary doesn’t automatically mean that it’s time for panel replacement. Unless your panels have incurred significant physical damage by that time, they’ll still be generating quite a bit of energy. Though you may begin to notice a slight downtick in energy production overtime, you’ll still be able to rely on your solar energy system as a source of electricity for your home for many years to come. 

Does your solar system need regular maintenance?

Solar panel maintenance is a breeze. With no moving parts to actively keep an eye on, solar panels are very reliable and worry-free. 

Cleaning is not required, as Mother Nature can typically take care of any dirt or debris that may build up. Removing snow and ice is not required or recommended, as the power loss during a snowstorm is quite minimal and it can be dangerous. However, you can choose to clean your panels if you please – try to avoid any harsh detergents or brushes that could damage the glass.

As with any technology, however, it’s always good to check in from time to time. When you go solar with Brooklyn SolarWorks, you’ll receive access to our 24/7 monitoring system which allows you to track your system’s output and determine if there are any issues. And we’ll do the same – our team actively monitors our entire fleet of solar installations should any issues arise. 

Want to learn more about our customer service and system monitoring? Schedule a free consultation today.

Can you extend the life of your solar panels?

While there’s no real way to improve the technological efficiency of your panels after they’re installed, the best way to ensure long-term performance and ROI is to invest in high quality panels that are installed with care from the get-go. If you choose a reputable solar provider, you’ll most likely have little to no issues for the lifetime of your solar panels.

What happens to your solar panels after 30 years?

When solar panels reach the end of their energy-producing lifetime – whether that’s year 25, 30 or 40 – they’re still valuable. Solar panels can be broken down and recycled to create new panels, solar batteries, or other electronics. 

Maintaining Your Solar Panels in NYC

Overall, solar is a reliable, long-lasting form of energy that requires very little maintenance. Even considering the reality of solar degradation, it’s still an excellent investment for your home and the environment. Once your panels are installed, you’re looking at decades of clean energy to come. 

Brooklyn SolarWorks has been NYC’s trusted solar provider since 2015. We want to help you make the switch to clean energy! Get in touch today.

Are you considering solar, but have some concerns about how your system will hold up in the winter or during a hurricane? If you are, you’re not alone. Here in NYC, we experience a broad range of weather throughout the year, and it’s an important factor to consider.

It’s normal to have some reservations about investing in solar if you’re unaware about how solar panels perform and tolerate seasonal changes in weather. The bottom line is that solar is for all seasons! 

We’re here to answer all of your questions about seasonal solar panel performance.

How do seasonal changes impact solar panel performance?

The changes of the seasons will no doubt impact solar panel performance, but not as drastically as you may think! The thought of seasonal variations in weather shouldn’t stop you from making the investment. Solar is an energy source for all seasons, regardless of the weather.

But when there are less daylight hours and more inclement weather in the winter, you may see slight downticks in energy production, and therefore slightly higher Con Ed bills

Plus, you’ll have to consider your energy consumption throughout the year as well. For example, you may have more visitors at your home in the fall or winter months due to the holidays than you do in the middle of summer. What this means is that you may not rack up as many net metering credits on your Con Ed bills, depending on how much people are using your electricity around these particular seasons.

This means it’s best to be more conscious of how much energy you’ll offset when it comes to seasons where there are shorter days (less sunlight) and more household members.

New York City solar panel owner's net metering summary on Con Edison bill showing seasonal solar panel performance
Here’s a local solar owner’s recent net metering summary. As you can see, this customer banked enough net metering credits throughout the year to cover all of their energy needs, except for the months of December and January.

What are the best months for solar production in NYC?

Needless to say, solar works best when there’s sunshine! So it follows that the best seasons for energy production are the spring and summer. These seasons are the best time for solar because there will be longer days and more sun for your panels to pick up direct sunlight.

Weather that Impacts Solar in the Fall and Winter Months 

Does cold weather impact solar performance? 

It’s a commonly held solar myth that solar panel systems only work in hot weather, where the sun is shining longer due to longer days. But this is a misconception: solar panels absorb sunlight to generate electricity, not heat from the sun. So even on a 30 degree day in the middle of February, your panels will still be producing energy. 

Fun fact: there’s a possibility that solar panels actually work better in colder months

Thanks to chemistry, electrons rest in cooler temperatures (low energy) and are activated by increasing sunlight (high energy). This causes better production of solar power due to the electron absorbing the energy and moving it to a higher energy state. 

How does heavy snow impact solar energy production? 

Heavy snow can reduce the amount of direct sunlight hitting the solar cells, but it does not drastically reduce solar power generation. A five-year study shows that snowfall only results in a 3% energy loss for solar panels, this means that snow and ice do not typically impact performance. 

This also means that solar panel maintenance does not include removing snow and ice. Your panels will be angled to allow snow to melt or drift off naturally.

Do solar panels work if they’re covered in ice? 

The chances of production problems arising from ice due to freezing temperatures are slim. Since ice is transparent, sunrays will simply go through them to reach your solar cells. 

Fortunately, solar panels are typically installed at an angle toward the sun. This means the ice will simply slide off the panels as it melts, preventing any damage. For this reason, residential solar panels do not need extensive maintenance from ice or snow. 
Want to learn more about how winter weather could affect your solar panels? We’re here to help. Get in touch with us!

Weather that Impacts Solar in the Spring and Summer Months

Does humidity affect the performance of solar panels?

Humidity can affect the performance of solar panels. It’s a common misconception that the hotter the weather is outside, the better the performance of your solar panels will be. Although all solar panels are created to produce energy, not all solar panels work the same under humid conditions. 

All solar panels come with rated output specifications, which are dependent on certain temperatures. Solar panel output specifications help you understand how your solar panels should work under normal conditions and how they will function under abnormal weather conditions.

Depending on the panel, location, and typical climate, high temperatures can reduce solar panel efficiency by 10-25%. For this reason, it’s important to work with a solar installer who uses high quality solar panels – REC is Brooklyn SolarWorks’s go-to provider.

How does rain impact solar performance?

Rain does not impact solar performance. Your solar panels will continue to produce, even on rainy days. 

However, if you live in an area where frequent rain or hurricanes occur, you should invest in a solar battery to store your power and provide energy security to you if there’s an outage. Batteries are also helpful if you’re experiencing low production on a day where the clouds are very dense. 

Unfortunately, however, installing residential batteries in NYC is currently not possible due to FDNY policy. But when that policy changes, Brooklyn SolarWorks can retrofit all systems to accommodate batteries.

What happens if my solar panels get struck by lightning?

If there’s a thunderstorm, there is a very, very small chance that your solar panels could get struck by lightning – about the same odds as anything outdoors getting struck by lightning. In the very rare case that this happens, your system could experience some damage to its electrical components, such as its inverter.

If any part of your system has been damaged or is malfunctioning, we urge you to call your installer for help with repairs and resolving the issue. In rare cases like this, it’s important to work with an installer who provides a comprehensive warranty package. 

At Brooklyn SolarWorks, we provide a 30 year umbrella warranty that covers all parts of your solar PV system. In the event that your system is damaged, we’ll be sure to repair it as soon as possible. 

To learn more about our warranty options and commitment to customer satisfaction, contact us!

Do solar panels hold up in strong winds? 

This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to investing in a solar PV system here in New York City, as our hurricane season can be intense. But rest assured, the idea that your solar panels will fly away in strong winds is one of the most common misconceptions out there. 

When you work with a quality solar installer, you’re investing in a system that will hold up against hurricane-strength winds. Here at Brooklyn SolarWorks, our team ensures maximum stability by bolting the system to the roof’s underlying rafters using watertight connections called OMG. Our Solar Canopy can has been tested extensively and proven to withstand a load of 48,000 pounds. This is equivalent to winds speeds of over 120 mph, and far exceeds the city’s wind requirements.

The Brooklyn Solar Canopy was designed to secure solar panels on a flat roof even in harsh weather.
Our Brooklyn Solar Canopy undergoing a load test, in which it was proven to hold 48,000 pounds.

How do cloudy days impact solar energy?

Cloudy days will not be a great hindrance to your solar production. Sunbeams still reach the earth regardless of how cloudy the sky is, but the more dense these clouds are, the less energy your system will produce. Though production may decrease slightly, no need to worry – you’ll still have access to power even with some cloud cover overhead. 

Contrary to belief, there may be times where clouds increase solar production. On cloudy days, there may be brief moments when a phenomenon called “edge-of-cloud” happens. This is when clouds pass by the sun and their edges magnify sunlight which in turn causes intensified sunbeams to reach your solar panels.

Other Factors that Impact Solar Panel Efficiency

Angle of the Sun

The angle and direction in which your solar panels are installed are a huge factor in solar panel performance. For most of the United States, it’s best for panels to be at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees facing south. This is because we’re in the Northern Hemisphere, where the sun is always at the southern half of the sky; therefore, this is where you would receive direct sunlight. 

Time of Day

The time of day also plays a factor in when you’ll get the best production out of your solar system. But with that, we need to consider that these optimal times change with the seasons. For example, in the summer, we experience longer days and more sunlight compared to the fall and winter. 

When it comes to measuring the best time for solar, there’s a term called, “peak sun hour.” The peak sun hour is one hour where the sunlight reaches an average of 1,000 watts of energy per square meter. This is a lot of sunlight!

You’re most likely to receive this amount of sunlight only if your panels are directly facing the sun at its strongest, so the number of peak hours varies depending on the location and time of year. In New York, we see an average of 3 to 3.5 peak sun hours per day.

Temperature

Temperature can play a role in seasonal solar panel performance, specifically higher temperatures. All solar panels are manufactured with output specifications that determine efficiency in hotter weather conditions; at a certain point, panel efficiency begins to diminish with heat. So if it’s very hot one July day, you might see a slight downtick in energy production. However, this typically balances out considering the longer daylight hours in the summer.

On the other hand, cold temperatures do not negatively affect solar production – in fact, colder climates can be better for efficiency. Any decreases in production throughout the winter will mainly be due to shorter days and snow.

Solar Energy is for All Seasons

Although seasonal variations in weather can cause changes to your solar production throughout the year, it’s a reliable energy source for your home in all seasons. 

While it might seem like there’s a lot to think about when investing in flat roof solar, we assure you that we’re here to make the process as seamless as possible and take all the proper precautions when installing solar for your home. All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the savings!

If you’re considering going solar and want to know about how our systems operate throughout the seasons, we’d love to hear from you. Schedule a free consultation with us today!

Are you a solar owner with a quick question about solar panel maintenance? Are you considering installing solar panels on your home and wondering what kind of maintenance is involved? This guide is for you!

When you go solar with Brooklyn SolarWorks, our team will be there to answer any questions you may have and provide personalized guidance in taking care of your system. Continue reading to learn about the components of a solar system and why solar panel maintenance is a breeze.

Do residential solar panels need to be maintained?

If you’re considering solar, you may be wondering what kind of maintenance you’ll need to think about in the future. Good news! Maintaining a solar PV system requires very little effort. 

Because there are no moving parts to a solar energy system, there’s not much that you actively need to keep an eye on. Cleaning your solar panels is not required either, because they’re angled in such a way that Mother Nature can typically take care of any build up of dirt or debris.

The most common issues we come across have to do with the system’s WiFi connection, which can happen if you change your network settings and is a simple fix.

All in all, solar is a very low maintenance energy source for your home. But rest assured: if any issues or questions arise, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch with us to get started with solar.

Can I tell when my solar system needs maintenance?

Every solar system has an inverter, which we consider the “brains” of the operation. It has two important jobs: one, it converts the DC electricity generated by your solar panels into AC electricity used by your home and the utility grid. Two, it monitors the health of your solar array and stores performance data.

When it comes to solar panel maintenance, the inverter is key. It’ll be connected to your home’s WiFi, which enables the transmission of production data to our monitoring team and alerts us if anything is wrong.

The inverter is typically mounted in your basement near the main electrical service. It can also be placed on your roof attached to the solar array. It has LEDs and a display in the bottom right corner which provide a snapshot of its operating status.

An SMA SunnyBoy inverter located in a solar customer's basement.
Inverters are mounted in the basement (pictured here) or can be located on your roof attached to your solar array.

Inverter Display

While in normal operation, the display shows the current power output and total lifetime energy production of the inverter.

Inverter Lights

The green light indicates the current power production status of your solar panel system. It pulses slowly or quickly depending on how much energy it’s creating. 

The center red light is the error light and only illuminates if there’s a problem. The display will also show an error code and time stamp when the error occurred. All errors are automatically reported to our team within 24 hours.

The blue light is the communication light. If your inverter is connected to a WiFi network or hardwired with an ethernet cable, it will be solid blue. If it loses connection, the light will turn off.

An SMA SunnyBoy inverter displays solar system information.
The display of your inverter looks something like this.

How to Turn Off and Reboot Your Solar System

Over the lifetime of your system, you may come across times when you’ll need to turn off or reboot your system, like if you have an electrician working in your home for example. 

How do I turn my system off?

In the rare case that you need to turn your solar system off altogether, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the DC disconnect. This is a black dial on the left side of your inverter (below). 
  2. Turn off the AC disconnect. (Pictured below.) This will be either a circuit breaker in your main electrical panel, or a switch located outside your electric panel – it’ll be labeled as such. 

After turning off the inverter, allow at least one minute for the inverter to fully discharge before rebooting. If an electrician has turned your system off, please make sure they remember to reactivate your system before leaving.

How do I reboot my system?

To reboot your solar system, turn both the DC and AC switches back on. Either order is fine, but turning on the AC connection first will allow the inverter to resume operation more quickly. The inverter will take up to 5 minutes to fully reboot and reconnect to WiFi/cell networks. It may take another 5 minutes to begin making power.

How can I monitor the health of my solar panels?

After your inverter is connected to your WiFi network, we’ll register it in an online monitoring platform called Sunny Portal. Sunny Portal allows you to track the performance of your solar array.

Check Your Inverter Data

Checking data collected by Sunny Portal is a great way to monitor the health and performance of your solar system. 

Information provided by Sunny Portal includes but is not limited to: 

  • Real-time output of your solar system
  • Total energy output
  • Approximate CO2  emissions avoided for the current day and lifetime of the system
  • Basic information on system equipment

Additionally, our team actively monitors the performance of our entire fleet of solar systems against guaranteed output levels and receives automatic notifications should any errors occur.

Sunny Portal allows customers to manage their solar systems.
SMA’s online portal allows BSW and our customers to track solar system performance and be alerted should irregularities occur.

How do I maintain my solar panels?

Your solar panels are very low maintenance. They have no moving parts or electronics, and are therefore long-lasting, requiring no regular inspection or maintenance.

Solar panel cleaning is not required. Your solar array is angled to allow rain water to run off naturally, taking with it any dust, pollen, or other 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 don’t need to worry about removing snow either, as the power lost during snowstorms is extremely small. Snow will drift or melt off your panels naturally. Not to mention, it can be dangerous climbing up to a snowy, icy rooftop. 

Suffice to say, solar panel maintenance is a piece of cake!

How does NYC’s extreme weather impact my solar panels?

One of the most common solar myths out there is that solar panels won’t fare well in bad weather. In any given year in New York City, we can expect a range of weather conditions, from heatwaves, to hurricanes, to blizzards. 

When it comes to solar, we prepare for this. The solar panel providers we use, typically LG or REC, thoroughly test their panels against a broad range of extreme weather before going to market. LG and REC are industry leaders, manufacturing solar panels that are built to last.

Brooklyn SolarWorks’s systems have also undergone extensive testing: our canopy system 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.)

Systems we installed back in 2016 are still up and running, despite being exposed to multiple hurricanes and snowstorms over the years. When you go solar, it’s important to choose an installer that uses high-quality solar panels and sound installation methods to ensure stability overtime.

The Brooklyn Solar Canopy was designed to secure solar panels on a flat roof even in harsh weather.
Our Brooklyn Solar Canopy undergoing a load test, which proved it can hold 48,000 pounds.

Is there a standard warranty for solar panels?

Solar panel warranties can vary depending on the manufacturer, but most provide a standard warranty of 10 to 20 years. Typically, there are two components to a solar panel warranty: product and performance. The product warranty covers the equipment itself, while the performance warranty guarantees a certain power output over a set period of time. The specifics of each component vary depending on the provider.

REC, one of our trusted solar panel providers, offers a 20-25 year product warranty as well as a guarantee that their panels will perform at a minimum 92% efficiency after 25 years.

Additionally, a good solar installer should provide their own warranties. When you go solar with Brooklyn SolarWorks, you’ll be covered by a 30 year umbrella warranty, covering all aspects of the installation:

  • 25 year panel warranty
  • 10 year workmanship warranty for all materials and services performed
  • 30 year inverter warranty

We also offer our customers 24/7 real-time system monitoring, as well as a Power Production Guarantee. We guarantee that your system will perform as projected during its first 10 years; if not, we’ll provide cash compensation for the loss in savings. 

When you go solar with us, we’ve got your back. Schedule your free consultation today.

How to Replace and Repair Your Solar Panels

If your panels were installed properly, it’s unlikely that you’ll have to worry about repair or replacement. But things can happen – this is why it’s important to choose a trusted installer that provides warranties for their equipment and service. 

In the rare case that your solar panels need to be replaced or repaired, it’s best to get in touch with the company that installed them because they’ll be able to determine the best course of action for your system and your roof. If your system was installed by us, we’ll get a crew out to assess the issue and make repairs as soon as we can.

Overall, Solar Requires Very Little Maintenance 

When you invest in solar energy, you’re investing in a low maintenance, long-lasting energy source that’s actively reducing your carbon footprint. Overall, solar panel maintenance is a total breeze. But in the case that any issues arise, it’s important to know the basics of how your system operates and how to handle it.

If questions about solar panel maintenance are top of mind for you, it’s best to work with a trusted installer who uses high quality panels and installation methods. If you’re a homeowner in New York City, we’d love to help you switch to clean energy. Schedule a free consultation today!

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 installation that are specifically adapted to New York City. 

Along the way, we’ve discovered a lot about what makes NYC an outstanding place to go solar. Here are some fundamentals that sustainably-minded homeowners exploring flat roof solar in the city should know.

Background of Flat Roof Solar in NYC

For many years, solar contractors in the area embraced installation methods and system designs that were developed for the suburban home, making the unique features of the urban environment a poor fit for conventional business models.

Unlike suburban homes, flat roofed homes here are often closely surrounded by, or attached to, other homes and commercial buildings. They also often have obstructions like skylights, hatches, HVAC equipment, and required FDNY fire paths. These characteristics were traditionally seen as major barriers to installing solar. As a result, NYC was stuck in solar limbo while its suburbs saw some of the highest solar adoptions rates in the country. 

Flat roof homes in Brooklyn.
The housing stock of New York City’s residential neighborhoods differs greatly from suburban environments.

On one hand, there has been huge demand in the city due to sky high electricity rates and growing climate consciousness among locals. But on the other hand, the growth of solar here was stunted by challenging features of flat roof buildings, restrictive building and fire codes, and the City’s notoriously complex permitting bureaucracy.

Fortunately, we came on the scene in 2015 with the mission to change that!

To this day, some companies still claim that installing solar panels on flat roofs in New York City is impossible. But the truth is, installing solar on flat rooftops just requires different design considerations and installation methods than installing on pitched and sloped roofs. And while it is true that the City’s building and fire codes can be prohibitive, they’re not at all impossible! Plus, flat roof solar provides the same value – if not more – than solar on any other rooftop.

How to Know if Your Home is Compatible

Many of our customers have been told by other installers that their flat roof is not suitable for a residential solar installation. If you’ve heard this too, you’ve come to the right place. 

Solar system design for flat roof buildings – particularly on 100+ year old brownstones – is our core expertise. It is very rare that a flat roofed home in the city is not able to go solar, though there are certain criteria that your roof should meet in order for solar to make sense. Factors such as roof structure, workable roof area, and shading come into play. But in order to know for sure, you’ll need to have your roof surveyed by a certified solar professional. (We offer free assessments for this!)

Many Brooklyn neighborhoods have high concentrations of landmarked and historic homes. If you own one of these homes, you likely already know that New York City has some of the most stringent historic preservation rules anywhere. Many of our customers logically assume that adding a space-age technology to a historic home with landmark designation won’t go over well with the city. But as long as the solar panels are concealed from view from the street, flat roof solar is permitted. In fact, about 25% of Brooklyn SolarWorks projects are on landmarked homes.

Solar Design Options for Flat Roofs

Installing solar on flat roofs – especially those with obstructions like hatches, skylights, and required FDNY fire paths – requires a bit more creativity than other solar models. We pioneered two unique solar panel racking solutions for flat roofs, allowing us to provide customized solar panel systems for so-called challenging roofs that other companies won’t touch.

Our most famous innovation for flat roof installations is our award-winning Brooklyn Solar Canopy. Canopies elevate solar panels above roof obstructions and required fire paths, while also creating space for roof decks, green roofs and other amenities. It’s so popular that we now distribute our solar canopy to other installers all over the country through a separate company, Brooklyn Solar Canopy Co.

If a solar canopy is not your style, we’ve also mastered the art of maximizing solar with limited space through our tilt rack option. Tilt racks can be installed closer to the roof surface and allow the solar array to be split into sections, avoiding any obstructions. Tilt racks are great for landmarked homes, whose solar installations need to be invisible from street level.

How Do I Start the Process of Going Solar?

Get in touch with your local solar company to get started. (If you’re in NYC, our phone lines are always open!)

Our process involves an initial discussion with a member of our team to get to know your home and roof situation. Then, you’ll have an appointment with one of our solar experts, who will assess your roof and talk about what solar could look like for your home. From there, our team will create a custom solar proposal for you.

Once you decide to move forward with your project, you can sit back and relax. There are a lot of steps involved with going solar in NYC, as construction projects here involve complex permitting and take time to complete. But it’s the solar installer’s job to complete these steps – not the homeowner’s.  

Solar is a turn-key business, meaning it’s on the installer to manage all permits and permissions on behalf of the customer with the city, Con Edison, and all other entities. Because of the time it takes to permit a project, the installation process takes about 3-4 months to complete from contract signing. During that time, the customer is required to do almost nothing until the day of the installation.

Solar Panel Installation Cost

The cost of a solar panel installation in NYC can vary depending on a number of factors, and it’s not as straightforward as it may be in other areas of the country (even Long Island or New Jersey!).

Making solar work on homes in the City is an art – there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Unfortunately, many installers in the area lack the specialization required to give an accurate estimate for flat roof solar upfront. And looking into solar panel pricing in any other area of the country won’t give you the best idea of what your finances will look like for solar here – not only because pricing is more variable in the city, but also because we are one of the most incentivized solar markets in the country.

NY solar incentives can cover around 70 percent of the total cost of your solar power system come tax season. But for that remaining 30 percent, the way you pay is up to you. There are different financing options available – you may choose to pay in cash up front, or finance it over 20 years at 1.49% APR.

When considering the cost of a solar installation, it’s important to remember that it’s an investment akin to any other home improvement project. Solar’s been proven to raise the value of homes in NYC, and savings from avoiding electric bills can exceed $35,000 overtime.

Solar Output and Power Generated on a Flat Roof

You may have heard that solar panels on a flat roof won’t produce well due to the lack of angle toward the sun or shade from neighboring buildings or trees. The truth is that there aren’t any inherent disadvantages to flat roof solar as compared to a pitched or slanted roof system.

While there may be different design considerations and equipment needed, these things don’t affect the quality of the system or energy production. But because flat roof systems require specialized designs, it’s a good idea to choose an installer that knows how to maximize solar performance on these types of roofs. 

Flat roofs are our specialty – get in touch!

Many of our customers report that they haven’t paid Con Ed ever since their system was installed. Many of the flat roof systems we install cover all, if not more, of our customers’ energy needs.

How to Choose the Right Solar Installer

Like any major home improvement project, it’s important to choose the right company to work with. You want a contractor that creates a high-quality product while making the process seem like a breeze. 

When it comes to flat roof solar installations in NYC, it’s imperative that you choose an installer that understands how to work in lockstep with the city’s complex building codes and permitting processes so that you get the best solar system possible. 

We’ve built our business from top to bottom to do all of these things for each and every customer of ours – contact us today!

Your Savings When You Go Solar

Utility rates in NYC are some of the highest in the country – and the cost of electricity is on the rise. As a solar owner, you’ll remain connected to the grid. But thankfully, Con Edison awards retail credits for the excess solar power your system exports to the grid through a program called net metering. This means that the solar energy your system produces translates to savings on your monthly electric bill. 

Plus: solar energy becomes more valuable over time as electric rates increase, meaning your savings will grow. Going solar reduces the cost per kilowatt hour of electricity to pennies, and the savings from avoiding utility rate increases typically exceeds $35,000 over time.

Local and Federal Solar Incentives

Having super high electricity rates like we do in NYC is usually enough to make solar a worthwhile investment. But living in New York means homeowners can take advantage of several state, city, and federal tax credits that can offset up to 70% of your out-of-pocket costs. This makes for fast payback times and super attractive ROI. 

Solar tax credits available to NYC homeowners
Thanks to the solar tax incentives and rebates available in NYC, homeowners can get up to 70% of their solar installation costs covered.

NYC homeowners can take advantage of the following incentives to help cover the cost of their solar installations:

Check out our list of different NY solar incentives to see what your project may qualify for.

Solar Panels and the Resale Value of Your Home

According to an April 2019 study by Zillow.com solar homes sell on average at 4.1% higher than comparable homes without solar. The study also found that the solar boost was higher in the NYC metro area than the national average, topping out at 5.4%. That’s an extra $23,989 in value for solar homeowners in the five boroughs. The study corroborated similar findings of an early report funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Solar Warranty and Maintenance

All Brooklyn SolarWorks solar systems come with an industry-leading 30-year warranty that covers all aspects of the system including the panels and inverter. Additionally, we guarantee your solar production – if your system fails to perform as expected, we’ll provide cash compensation to cover the loss in savings.

Many folks are surprised to find out that solar panels require little to no maintenance. Because there are no moving parts to a solar array, there is not much to actively keep an eye on. You’re not required to clean your solar panels, as your solar array will be angled to allow rain water to run off naturally, taking with it any build up. However, if you do choose to clean your panels, avoid harsh detergents and metal or hard plastic brushes that could scratch the glass.

You don’t need to worry about removing snow either, as the power lost during snowstorms is extremely small. Not to mention, it can be dangerous climbing up to a snowy, icy rooftop. Snow will melt or drift off the system naturally.

There’s not much you’ll need to do for solar panel maintenance. Essentially, once your panels are installed on your roof, you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the savings!

Costumer logged into Sunny Portal to monitor solar performance.
Monitoring your solar performance with Sunny Portal can help you understand how well your system performs.

Monitoring Your Solar Energy

Brooklyn SolarWorks provides 24/7 system monitoring as part of our warranty package. When you become a customer of ours, we won’t leave you high and dry. Our team actively monitors our entire fleet of solar systems on a regular basis, and are alerted in case of any irregularities in system functionality.

You’ll be able to monitor your solar panel system as well. When your system is connected to your WiFi on installation day, it’ll get registered in Sunny Portal. Once your Sunny Portal account is set up, it allows you to track your solar production through metrics like real-time output, total energy output, and CO2 emissions avoided.

Get Started with the Local Experts Today!

If you own a home in New York City, switching to solar energy is one of the best ways to make an impact on climate change. Going solar means reducing your carbon footprint and your electric bill.

If you’re looking to install solar on your flat roofed home, trust an expert. Brooklyn SolarWorks has been designing and building flat roof solar systems in NYC since 2015, with over 1,000 complete projects. 

Schedule your free consultation to get started today!

nyc homeowners guide to flat roof solar free download

Solar energy is important in facilitating a clean energy future, which is imperative in the fight against climate change. But the use of solar energy has benefits that extend beyond environmental impact. From health to economics, solar has the capacity to change the lives of New Yorkers for the better.

The Growth of Solar Energy in NYC

The very first solar system was installed on a rooftop right here in New York City way back in 1884. But for a long time, unfortunately, solar companies avoided installing solar in urban environments due to its complexities. Conventional solar models were made for the suburban, pitched roof home, unlike what we have here in the city. 

Brooklyn SolarWorks was founded to change that. While our installations today look a little different, NYC is quickly becoming a solarized city.We’ve developed custom solar system design methods specifically for flat roofed brownstones and townhouses in NYC, while also figuring out how to navigate NYC’s complex permitting process. As a result, we’ve had the opportunity to contribute to the growth of solar in NYC with over 1,000 solar installations.

How is solar energy obtained?

The sun’s energy can be obtained and converted using a variety of solar technologies, creating electricity for home use, thermal energy for solar heating, or other purposes. 

In a home solar system setup, energy from the sun is harnessed using the technology of photovoltaic (PV) panels. When sunlight shines on a solar PV panel during the day, the energy is absorbed by solar cells and converted into DC electricity. When the current flows through an inverter, it is converted into AC electricity which is usable in your home.

Want to know how solar could work for your NYC home? Get in touch with us.

6 Reasons Why Solar Energy is Important in NYC

1. It’s Good for the Environment

It’s no secret that one of the most important things about solar power is that it’s a clean, renewable energy source. To mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, we need to transition to alternative energy sources that don’t emit greenhouse gasses – especially in our buildings. A recent study found that the buildings here in NYC are responsible for 70% of our total emissions

Solar is one of the best renewable energy options available, particularly for individual households and buildings.

2. It Reduces Energy Costs

Another important feature of solar energy is that it’s cost-effective. Rather than purchasing natural gas and electricity powered by fossil fuels from the utility grid, solar PV systems allow you to convert the sun’s energy into electricity right in your own home. Through a program called net metering, you’ll receive retail energy credits on your electric bills from Con Edison for all of the excess energy your system produces and exports to the grid.

Powering your home with solar means you can say goodbye to the volatility of the fossil fuel market and unexpected utility rate hikes – something us New Yorkers are too well aware of. Solar panels provide a free, renewable energy source that lasts for decades. 

Plus, by electrifying your home with all-electric appliances (air source heat pumps, electric hot water heaters, or induction cooktops) after going solar, the cost savings become even more valuable – and your dependence on fossil fuels decreases even further.

3. It Provides Health Benefits

When it comes to energy sources, “clean” doesn’t just mean good for the environment. Transitioning to clean energy is a necessity for our health. The burning of fossil fuels produces harmful greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, methane, and nitrogen oxides. In fact, a recent study by Stanford University found that gas stoves leak methane into homes even when they’re not in use. 

These gases are linked to various problems, like premature deaths, heart attacks, asthma, and other cardiovascular and respiratory issues. This is on top of the health effects of climate weather events exasperated by climate change, like extreme weather and even allergy season.

New York City is particularly vulnerable to these impacts. As of 2017, New York had the highest rate of premature deaths and health impacts due to fuel combustion pollution, with NYC being responsible for a significant portion. And not all New Yorkers experience these effects the same way – lower income communities and communities of color are more likely to be negatively impacted. 

With our buildings being the top greenhouse gas emissions source, it’s imperative that we transition to clean energy sources like solar.

4. It Promotes Energy Independence

Producing your own energy at home means reducing your dependence on electricity coming from the power grid, which promotes energy independence on an individual level. Rooftop solar energy systems give home and building owners the ability to produce their own power, which reduces energy costs and provides a greater sense of security.

This applies on a national level, too. Transitioning to solar and wind energy on a large scale would reduce the United States’s dependence on imports of foreign fossil fuels, which would provide greater economic and political stability.

5. It Provides Financial Incentives

Solar energy provides financial benefits in addition to energy cost savings. Solar installation is heavily incentivized by the government on the federal, state and local levels. This means that not only will you see cost savings in the long run, but you’ll also see savings on the initial investment of your solar installation. 

The tax incentives available to New Yorkers specifically make our city one of the best places in the country to go solar. Through a federal income tax credit, state solar tax credit, a state rebate, a local property tax abatement, and other incentives, a New York City homeowner can see their upfront contract price reduced by around 70 percent. 

Additionally, a study released by Zillow.com in 2019 determined that across the country, 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.

Want to learn more about what incentives your solar installation could qualify for? Chat with us today.

6. It Creates Jobs

Solar is important for the economy of New York. The solar industry here has experienced incredible growth over the past decade, and it’s only continuing to grow. 

New York was the 8th largest state solar industry in 2021, employing 10,214 people across 645 companies. The state has over 3,380 MW of solar installed currently, and is projected to install an additional 4,877 MW over the next 5 years. In fact, Governor Hochul announced that as of March 2022, New York is the largest community solar market in the country with more than 1 gigawatt installed – enough to power 200,000 homes.

The growth of the solar industry means overall economic growth for the city and state. Green jobs are the way of the future for NYC.

The Power of Solar Energy in NYC

Solar is important for countless reasons. Whether environmental, economic, or health-related, the importance of solar energy in NYC cannot be understated. New York City is leading the charge when it comes to the clean energy transition with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. 

Realizing this goal means installing solar panels on buildings big and small across the city, from the Javits Center to your single family brownstone. And installing solar means job creation, greater cost efficiency, and protecting the health of our neighbors and the earth.

Get Started with Solar Energy Today

If you’re considering solar for your NYC home, trust an expert. Brooklyn SolarWorks has been custom designing solar systems for flat roofs and expertly navigating NYC’s complex permitting process for over seven years. 

Join over 1,000 of your neighbors and flip the switch to solar today! Schedule a free consultation now.

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

AdvantagesDisadvantages
Clean Energy Reduces Your Carbon FootprintCan Be a Large Initial Investment
Solar Decreases Your Electric Bill from Con EdisonPermitting Takes a While in NYC
Rich Solar Tax Incentives Are Available to New YorkersAesthetic Concerns
Solar Panels Increase NYC Property ValueSolar Battery Storage is Unavailable in NYC
Solar Systems Last for Decades with Little MaintenanceSome Roofs in NYC Aren’t Ideal

What are the top 5 advantages of solar energy?

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.

Of course, mitigating the effects of global warming will take larger scale efforts. 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.

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?

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: 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.

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: 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: 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: 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 or has too much shade, solar may not make sense for you financially.

Solution: The good news is that Brooklyn SolarWorks assesses each and every roof 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!)

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.

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.

A Brooklyn SolarWorks crew evaluates a flat roof's condition and solar potential.
When our team performs a site evaluation, we’ll assess your roof’s condition and solar potential.

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!

nyc homeowners guide to flat roof solar free download

Can you install solar panels on a flat roofed home in New York City?

The short answer is: absolutely! For a long time, local solar contractors avoided installing solar panels on flat roofs in NYC due to the city’s notoriously strict codes and difficulties in maximizing solar potential. This left a huge gap in the local solar market where so many of the homes have flat roofs.

BSW’s mission from the beginning has been to make solar accessible and appealing for flat-roofed homeowners. We’ve developed design and installation methods – and a mastery of NYC building and permitting codes – that overcome these challenges and ensure that flat roof homeowners benefit from solar power just like their pitched roof neighbors.

What equipment is involved in installing solar panels on a flat roof?

Flat roof solar system design is similar to pitched or sloped roof solar design, in that it consists of only a few main components located on the roof and in the basement of the home. However, because flat roofs in NYC often have shade from the building next door or obstructions like hatches and skylights, we had to get a little more creative with our system design – utilizing two different racking system options.

Solar Canopy

One of our racking options is our proudest innovation, the Brooklyn Solar Canopy, which elevates the panels nine feet above the roof, avoiding fire paths and any obstructions. The canopy can not only produce energy, but also a great rooftop living space.

Solar Tilt Rack

Our other mounting option is the tilt rack, which is close to the roof surface and splits a solar array into separate sections. Because the panels are sectioned off, the solar array can be positioned in various ways to avoid roof obstructions while maximizing energy production. Tilt racks are a great option for the landmarked homes of our community, which are not allowed to have rooftop solar panels visible from the street according to city code.

Do you own a landmarked home and want to know about your solar options? Contact us to speak with a solar specialist.

Are there any disadvantages to solar on a flat roof?

You may have heard that solar panels on a flat roof won’t produce as well or that flat roof systems are more expensive. The truth is that there aren’t any inherent disadvantages to flat roof solar as compared to a pitched roof system.

While there may be different design considerations and equipment needed, these things don’t affect the quality of the system or energy production. But because flat roof systems require specialized designs, it’s a good idea to choose an installer that knows how to maximize solar performance on these types of roofs.

6 Questions to Ask an Installer Before Your Flat Roof Solar Installation 

1. How long do solar panels last? 

In general, solar panels last an average of 25 to 30 years. The system won’t stop producing completely after 30 years, but the amount of energy produced will decline over time.

One of the main reasons customers choose to go solar is the electric savings they receive by producing their own energy. In order to get the most out of your investment in solar, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing a high-quality installer that uses durable solar panels.

BSW’s solar panel provider is REC, whose industry-leading panels are built to last decades. But in the case that any component of your system requires maintenance or replacement throughout its lifespan, we provide a 30 year total-system warranty to all of our customers. We guarantee your system will produce as expected and get you the savings you deserve.

2. How much maintenance is required?

This is a common concern to have, as you want to do everything you can to take care of your system and secure a solid return on your investment in solar. But, solar systems should generally require little to no maintenance on the customer side. 

Cleaning your panels or removing debris is not necessary, because your panels will be angled so that rainwater can run off naturally and take any debris with it. If you do choose to clean your panels, however, don’t use harsh detergents or metal brushes that could scratch the glass. 

Removing snow from your panels is also not required or recommended – it will drift off naturally as well. The energy you might lose out on during a snowstorm is minimal and not worth a trip up to an icy rooftop.

If anything, sometimes our customers come across minor solar system maintenance issues having to do with the WiFi connection for example. For this reason we provide 24/7 system monitoring to ensure all of our installed systems are operating and producing as they should be.

3. How will my solar panels hold up in strong winds and harsh weather?

As we know, NYC can see some pretty harsh weather, from blizzards to hurricanes to heatwaves. Naturally, you might be wondering specifically about the viability of solar panels in a cold climate like ours. Many of our customers want to know how solar panels on a flat roof can handle heavy snow and strong winds – after all, you don’t want your panels or your roof to get damaged in a storm. It’s crucial that you invest in a system that will last its lifespan, meaning it will need to hold up against years of Northeast weather.

The Brooklyn Solar Canopy was designed to secure solar panels on a flat roof even in harsh weather.
Our Brooklyn Solar Canopy was engineered to withstand strong winds and snow – pictured here is a canopy holding 48,000 pounds.

Fortunately, the parts and equipment we use are built to withstand extreme weather. REC solar panels are tested extensively against harsh weather. Our solar canopy system itself can hold 48,000 pounds – the equivalent of a blizzard’s worth of snow load and 120 mph winds. For maximum stability, our systems are bolted to the roof’s underlying rafters using a watertight connector called OMG. 

4. How would a solar installation benefit me financially?

Switching to solar energy is an investment not only in the planet, but also in your family and home. That’s why it’s essential to run the numbers before your solar installation. We’ll get started for you here with three of the top financial benefits of going solar in NYC:

  • Between the city, state, and federal governments, NYC has some of the best solar tax incentives in the country – covering up to 60% of the cost of a solar installation.
  • The energy your system produces can reduce or even eliminate your electric bill. Con Edison’s net metering program compensates you for excess energy produced in retail credits that are applied towards your future electric bills. 
  • Solar will increase your home value. A study by Zillow determined that solar boosted home resale value in the New York metro area by an average of 5.4%, while NYC itself had an extra 1.8% boost.

One of our favorite things about our work is sharing information about these financial benefits and incentives with our customers. Want to learn about how much you could save by going solar? Get in touch with us!

5. Can I replace my roof in addition to a solar panel installation?

You may have heard that the current iteration of the Federal Investment Tax Credit covers roof replacement in tandem with a solar installation. Contrary to this belief, our interpretation of the tax code is that roof replacement is not a qualifying expense. 

Be aware of installers who tell you otherwise – we don’t want you and your family to be in danger of tax fraud. 

(Disclaimer: we’ll always do our best to give the most accurate information regarding solar tax incentives, but we are not tax professionals – please always consult an accountant or financial advisor for the best advice.)

6. Can battery storage be provided?

An increasingly common question for prospective solar customers is whether or not they can acquire a battery to store the energy they produce. It’s important to know as a New Yorker that current FDNY policy does not allow for solar battery installations in residential buildings. When that policy changes, however, all BSW systems can be retrofitted to accommodate batteries.

But as we mentioned above, the current net metering program compensates you for excess energy your system produces in the form of retail energy credits which are applied toward your electric bills. In this way, we like to say that net metering acts as a virtual battery – you may not be able to install a physical battery, but you’ll still benefit from the extra energy your system produces.

Finding the Right Solar Installation Company in NYC

Like any major home improvement project, it’s important to choose the right company to work with. You want a contractor that creates a high-quality product while making the process seem like a breeze. 

When it comes to flat roof solar installations in NYC, it’s imperative that you choose an installer that understands how to work in lockstep with the city’s complex building codes and permitting processes so that you get the best solar system possible. The Brooklyn SolarWorks team are NYC’s flat roof solar installations experts.

Take charge of your future and go solar now! Schedule your free consultation today.

Ever wonder what it’s like to install solar on a flat roof? This video will explain our process for carrying out residential NYC solar installations, as well as solar system monitoring and financing.

Whether you’re still considering solar or you’re gearing up for your installation, here’s a glimpse into what you can expect. 

The Solar Install Team Arrives

Our crew arrives at 9am and starts working immediately. They require access to the roof, basement, and yard spaces for the duration of the work day, which typically concludes around 5pm. Based on the size of your solar system, it’ll take 1-2 days to complete (weather permitting).

We hoist the panels and related equipment onto the roof using a pulley that’s set up at the front of your building. The electrical components of your system are carried to their set up location.

Solar System Installation Begins

We use a UL listed product called OMG to attach our solar components to the roof decking. These are watertight connections designed to withstand the NYC weather

From there, we fasten the external conduit in a discrete location on either the front or backside of your home. We then enter into the building basement either in the front of the building or backyard. All penetrations are flashed and sealed for watertightness.

Then, we mechanically fasten the solar panels to the heavy duty solar racking.

The Inverter is Connected

We install the inverter, or “brains” of your solar system, either on the roof or in the basement near your electrical service panel. The inverter is approximately the size of a carry-on suitcase.

We pull the wire through the conduit to the basement. Then we connect all the DC and AC wiring to the inverter.

After the Installation: Financing & Monitoring

After we’ve installed your system, Con Edison will replace your existing meter with a net meter and issue a final acceptance letter shortly thereafter. At this point, the installation is registered with their billing system. You can then activate your system by turning on the AC disconnect switch or dedicated solar breaker. We can provide instructions, or stop by to assist.

In order to set up monitoring for your system, we can connect your new equipment to your WiFi network. We’ll connect the system on-site and will set up your monitoring login a few days after the installation.

We will reach out regarding the final payment details shortly after the installation is completed and turned on. You may pay by ACH debit in your customer portal, paper check, or credit card. Credit card payments incur a 2.75% fee. If you have loan paperwork to finalize we will ask you to do so at this time. Please note that this payment is not the final payment to Brooklyn SolarWorks. The final payment comes from NYSERDA at final sign-off and is approximately 5% of project costs. 

Your solar installation is now complete! Congrats on making the switch to clean energy.


Whether you’ve just signed up or are beginning to research solar options, we hope this helped to illustrate our unique turnkey process for completing NYC solar installations. One of our pride points is once a customer agrees to their project, we handle the rest. We’ve got you covered – from assessment, to permitting, installation, and claiming your solar tax credits

If you’re ready to go solar, schedule a free site evaluation.

To revisit your custom solar proposal, contact our team at info@brooklynsolarworks.com.

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 residential solar 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. 

When other installers say no to flat roof solar, we say yes!

Myth: Solar systems cannot withstand freezing temperatures, hail, hurricanes, or other extreme weather.

BSW’s solar panel provider REC tests their panels thoroughly against a broad range of extreme weather.

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.

Rich solar incentives make NYC solar very affordable.

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.

Questions? Get in touch with a member of our team now.

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