This Unique Canopy Brings Solar Power To Brooklyn's Rooftops

For those that live in the New York City area, their small spaces and flat rooftops are limited in what they can do to absorb solar energy.  A local company has been able to solve that frustration with customized solar canopies for residential buildings.


May 25 2019, Updated 8:04 p.m. ET


City rules may have spawned a unique invention when it comes to using solar panels. Due to the New York City fire code, residential buildings cannot have a blockade directly on the roof. This rule applies to solar panels installed directly onto the slope of the covering. By working around the rule, Brooklyn SolarWorks has stumbled upon a unique invention.

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The product is called the Solar Canopy. Since panels cannot be placed on the roof, the company decided to elevate them while giving room for any firefighters to dig into a building during an emergency. With a strong, sturdy structure, weather elements such as wind, snow, or rain would not affect the product. The solar panels are also high enough and attached together to create a protective space on the roof for owners to enjoy. Flat surfaces also benefit with the elevated panels as they can be dipped to an angle to get more sunlight.

Structures are able to hold up to 18 solar panels to create the full canopy. All the energy that is taken from the sun is then pushed back into the grid that powers the city. The amount is tallied and a credit is given on the customer’s electrical bills. Similar products, like the SolarGaps, have multiple ways to use the energy, but that does not look like it will be an option with the solar canopy.

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This technology also helps boost a major city that has been slow to adopt solar energy techniques. While the canopies do not offer much protection outside of the sun gleaming on the rooftop, SolarWorks co-founder T.R. Ludwig explains to Liz Stinson of Wired that it would be a good thing.

“We think as more people go on their own roofs and they see their neighbors going solar with canopies, that’s going to add a viral effect to going solar,” he says. “That’s our dream of course.”

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Like most of the solar-powered products, there’s a hefty initial cost. Solar canopy sizes that hover around 18 panels can cost roughly $30,000. However, there would be a significant dent in utility cost and developers say that it could take about six years to pay for itself.

SolarWorks has been in business for 12 years in the New York City area. They work in collaboration with SITU Studio who’s behind the designs and architecture ideas for the solar canopies. The company’s mission is to get everyone as involved as possible in the solar revolution, along with being dedicated and providing the best experience to those that have decided to take the next step.

Since solar canopies are customized, anybody interested can log on to the home page and get a quote for their version. There is also an option to install the canopies without being raised high enough to operate under them, but are still able to abide with the fire code. With flat surfaces being commonplace on Brooklyn rooftops, this product is a brilliant idea that continues to evolve.


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