What is Solar Energy?

What is Solar Energy?

Solar panels, or solar photovoltaic panels, harness energy from the sun. In NYC, the utility company is required to compensate you for the solar energy you generate, which reduces your electricity bill. Solar energy is clean, requires no fuel and very little maintenance, and can be installed within a few days.

To date, tens of thousands of homes at all income levels and in all five boroughs have made the switch to solar and have begun saving money on their utility bills. ElectrifyNYC is here to help you figure out if your roof is sunny enough for solar, find an installer you can trust, and compare offers and pricing options.

ElectrifyNYC is helping you go solar confidently, combining all the information you need including:

  • Free Virtual or In-home Assessments
  • Contractor & Quote Vetting
  • Navigation of Federal, State, City and utility incentives
  • Finding low-cost financing
  • Installation Management & Satisfaction

We're here to help you understand how to save money, generate your own clean energy, and help make a clean and sustainable future for your family and NYC.

Start With A Free Home Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar in NYC

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How does solar work?

Solar photovoltaics (pv) harness the sun's energy and turn it into electricity. These are the panels you've seen on rooftops or in fields upstate. Producing your own solar energy saves money, because you won't have to buy as much energy from the utility (ConEd). Solar panels do not store energy for later, so any extra energy you produce during the day is sent back to the electric grid for other people to use.

In addition to reducing how much electricity you need to purchase from your utility company, the utility gives you bill credits for any electricity you send out to the grid. Most homeowners can dramatically reduce their electricity bills by installing solar on their homes.

Will I save money by going solar?

Many solar companies will provide guaranteed savings. The amount of money you can save with solar depends upon how much electricity you consume, the size of your system, if you choose to buy, lease, or complete a Power Purchase Agreement for your system, and how much sunlight hits it.
It is generally recommended to do basic, low-cost energy efficiency upgrades ahead of solar installation. This can help you reduce your utility bills and may also allow you to reduce how much you spend on solar installation. By using Energy Star appliances and making other efficient upgrades in your home, you may need fewer solar panels to power your home.

Will rooftop solar take me off the utility grid?

In New York City, adding a solar system does not disconnect you from the utility grid, nor do we recommend it. Solar panels only generate power during the daytime, so if you wish to binge-watch your favorite show at night before you go to bed, you’ll need electricity from your local utility.

In order to keep the lights on during a blackout, your solar panels need to be connected to a battery system that is sized to meet the energy needs of your home. Batteries may be a good option for some New Yorkers but are more expensive and more challenging to get permits for in NYC than solar. Installing solar today can help you save money immediately and ready your home for when batteries become more affordable and widely available.

Will my system need maintenance?

Solar is a simple, minimum-maintenance technology. Unlike other energy technologies, solar PV contains no moving parts. You shouldn't  have to replace your panels at all during their lifetime, which usually are under warranty for 20-25 years. In New York City, solar panels do not need to be washed, as rain and snow naturally clean them. In areas with less rain and lots of dust or pollutants in the air, occasional cleaning may improve performance.

Wiring is the part of solar PV that most commonly requires maintenance because squirrels and other animals may tamper with it. Solar panels generate direct current energy. A piece of equipment called an inverter converts that energy to alternating current, which is what your appliances use. Depending on your inverter type, you may need to have your inverter replaced 10 to 12 years after installation. Extended warranties can cover this equipment replacement cost, and many installers will offer maintenance plans.