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Solar Energy Installation FAQ

Solar panels work best on roofs that are:

  • Flat or south-facing
  • Clear of equipment like vents or HVAC units, etc.
  • Sunny! Look for a spot with minimal shade from trees or nearby buildings.
  • Structurally sound and with a remaining life expectancy of 20 years

While the above criteria make for an ideal situation, they do not necessarily rule out other rooftop situations.


Your system will produce electricity during daylight hours. On particularly cloudy days or at night, your solar energy system will not generate electricity and your power will be provided by our energy grid. Solar panels work best in cool, sunny weather.

Once your installation is complete, there is no specific maintenance that needs to be performed by a technician or contractor. However, washing your solar panels a few times a year helps your system run at its best.

Generally, as a solar or photovoltaic system ages, its output decreases by about 1 percent each year. The majority of new solar energy systems include a 20-year warranty for problems not related to aging.

A certified installer can help you configure a system that will meet your needs. Installers will generally try and build a system to offset your annual electricity (kilowatt-hour) usage. The actual amount of electricity generated by the system at any given time depends on both the availability and intensity of the sunlight. The New York State solar map can give you an estimate of how much electricity can be generated by a solar system on your building.

Photovoltaic systems capture the sun's energy and create electricity. Solar thermal systems harness the sun's energy and use it as a heat source.

Typical installations are unable to supply power during an outage. Learn more about solar and emergency power in NYC at Sustainable CUNY.

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