We talk a lot about our community solar program (for good reasons) but there’s another side of solar energy that is more utilized- rooftop solar. Both help the cause of making New York’s energy use more environmentally-friendly and both options have their own uses, positives, and negatives. So, let’s get into the differences so you can choose which option is best for you.
Community Solar is, in general, when homeowners and renters can buy into or sign up for a shared solar farm- meaning they "own" part of it and receive credits on their monthly electricity bills for the power produced. With ClearPath Energy's community solar program, for example, those who are interested don't buy into the community solar farm- instead, members complete a free sign up and sign a contract for their portion of the farm.
One other main difference between community solar and rooftop solar is the placement of the solar arrays. Community solar arrays are typically placed in a location that can be generally undisturbed (such as a farm, plots of land out in the country, away from busy cities.) Whereas, rooftop solar arrays are installed on any rooftop (such as places of business, homes, etc.) with optimal sunlight exposure.
Rooftop solar is where individual homeowners and business owners have solar arrays installed on their rooftops via a third-party solar company, which can either be operated and maintained by the solar company as needed or done yourself. With this option there are other factors to consider that you don't have to with community solar. This includes factors like roof space, shade from trees or buildings around your house, age and condition of your roof, weather, etc. It is important to note that rooftop solar arrays must be installed in an area where there is optimal sunlight exposure; if not, it will not produce as much energy as desired.
Costs for rooftop solar range based on several factors, such as project size, labor needed, individual base prices from solar companies, and state and federal incentives. For instance, according to Consumer Affairs a 6-kW project would start around $15,900 at $2.86 per watt, excluding other factors.
Both community solar and rooftop solar have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it ultimately depends on what you're looking for and your own individual circumstances to account for.
If you're looking for an option that's low-cost, low stress, and easy to sign up for, community solar is the way to go. All you have to do is find a community solar project in your area, sign up for membership, and start saving on your electricity bill. Plus, community solar projects are becoming increasingly common across the country, so it's likely that there's one near you.
Rooftop solar is a great option if you want more control over your energy spending since the solar design is based uniquely on your own home. Rooftop solar is a bigger investment which will require more planning and consideration on your end. It's also important to consider your home's sun exposure and roof condition when deciding if rooftop solar is right for you- if you have poor sun exposure and/or roof condition, rooftop solar might not be a viable option for you.
Which option is better for you really depends on what you're looking for and your own individual circumstances to account for. If you're looking for a reputable and trusted community solar company, help is out there to get you started- contact us at ClearPath Energy so we can talk to you about how it works and sign you up and start saving!