I'd been thinking about going solar for years, but there was always a reason why I couldn't. "It's expensive", "I can't afford it right now", "It will look ugly", etc. This year I finally decided to just do it. I spent some time investigating all the incentives (Federal, NY State and NYC). I did a little math, consulted a tax accountant, talked to my bank and figured out how I could swing it financially.
I knew I needed a high efficiency solar panel because I live in the Bronx. Most homes in NYC are taller than they are wide / long. If you don't have a big roof area, you need a higher efficiency panel to maximize the amount of power you produce because you can't fit too many panels on your roof.
I must confess that I am partial to SunPower. They are a US-based company that makes a premium solar panel. They've done a great job of improving the efficiency of their panels through innovation and engineering. But a great panel can't make up for a bad installation.
I started my search for a good solar installer reading online reviews from Google, Yelp and others. During a particular bout of sales cycle frustration, I called EmPower. I hadn't called them previously because they weren't in NYC. I figured the Bronx would be outside the territory of a Long Island-based company, or if they did take my call, they'd never admit to not being able to traverse NYC's infamous regulatory morass.
By the time Mat from EmPower Solar showed up I was more than a little skeptical. I was pleasantly surprised when he knew his stuff. When he didn't know something, he committed to getting back to me and much to my surprise, he did!
Empower sent folks to check the structural integrity of my roof. They checked the condition of my roof shingles. They sent someone to measure the amount of sunlight that hits my roof on both the south and north-facing side. They checked my electrical panel. They checked the placement of my cable modem. They took a bunch of pictures and explained what they were planning to do, down to what wires were running where. I asked them to adjust a few things and they did.
The rest was surprisingly smooth. They took care of all the NYC permitting work, coordinated with Con Edison, and scheduled the installation date (big shout out to Alexandra for all of her good work) The gentlemen who came to install, showed up when they were supposed to, did exactly what we had agreed to, and finished on schedule. They were clean, polite and professional. I was deeply impressed. And it even looks great!
I've had the panels up and running for over a month now, and they are producing power well. On clear sunny days, I will often produce between 100% to 200% of my daily power usage (not so much on rainy days). We're saving money on our electric bill, reducing the chance of summer brownouts and blackouts and helping the environment.
- Enrique V, Bronx, New York