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How Much Space Is Needed For Solar?

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Making Rowhouses Work brooklyn brownstone

Rowhouse-style buildings make up a quarter of New York City’s residential properties and can be great candidates for solar. But, by nature (typically located on lot sizes no greater than 25 feet), they have small roofs, and therefore face particular challenges. Fire regulations, such as mandatory 6-foot paths, eat up a large percentage of prime solar panel real estate. And then there’s cost--typically, the smaller the system, the higher the install-cost per panel. So how do people do it? How much space is really needed for solar?

First, it’s important to estimate your roof’s solar potential in order to get a sense of the solar capacity. Enter your address into the New York Solar Map for an initial scan of your roof's solar potential.

Offset just a portion of your usage. Rowhouses can offset a substantial portion of their electrical usage, and with NYC's high cost of electricity, even a small array can save you a lot of money. A modest, 5kW system can offset the usage of an average New York City apartment unit. Multi-family rowhouses often have a choice of offsetting all of one apartment, some of all the apartments, or just the common areas.

Install solar canopies. Solar Canopies, an innovative new design that elevates the solar array to at least 9 feet above the roof, creatively maximize roof space so a more substantial array can fit, as well as firepaths. This is a great way to increase system size on a small roof!

Group purchasing. Team up with people in your neighborhood and request a quote from a solar installer for multiple projects at once. This is a good way to lock in lower prices. Ask someone from Here Comes Solar to connect you with potential group purchasing projects.

Multifamily Cooperatives and Rental Properties

Larger buildings with more roof space are often attractive options for solar. Projects of this scale generally cost less per panel installed, and allow for more system design possibilities. While in many cases a solar array will still not produce enough solar to offset the entire building’s usage, it can offset the common areas or offset a portion of individual units’ usage, or both. To learn more about options for multi-family buildings, reach out to an expert at Here Comes Solar.

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