Thinking of Going Solar? Google’s Project Sunroof Can Help
You can find the answer to almost anything on the Internet. Within minutes you can get a mortgage quote on a house. Map how far it is to the closest grocery store. And see how much insurance would cost.
But, when it comes to estimating how much solar panels would cost, that has to be done in person.
Until Project Sunroof, a Google project that calculates the potential savings you can accumulate over 20 years by installing solar panels on your house.
About Project Sunroof
All you need to do is enter your address. Google uses high resolution aerial mapping, the same technology used for Google Earth, to create a 3D model of your roof. With this data, Google can estimate how much sun exposure your roof gets.
This estimate depends on several factors.
- The size of your roof
- Trees, buildings, or other structures blocking the sun
- Possible sun positions over the year and corresponding hours of sunlight
- Historical weather patterns, such as clouds, that can affect energy production
Google provides statistics to help determine if your home can equip solar panels, breaking it down into:
- How many hours of usable sunlight your roof gets per year
- How much space is available on your roof for solar panels
- An estimated total savings over a 20-year lease
From here, you can fine-tune your results by entering information about your current monthly electric bill. Google also makes it easy to take the next steps towards installing solar panels by listing contact information for solar providers in your area.
Google’s estimate may be different from local providers because Google points out that their map imagery may not be up to date. Trees may have been removed or grown significantly since Google last took pictures of your neighborhood. More trees or the addition of any other structures shading your roof will decrease the amount of sun exposure your roof gets, and thus decrease potential savings. If trees or structures are removed, your estimated savings would potentially increase.
Growth of Solar Panels
The cost of solar energy has hit a record low. Not only is this source of power good for the environment, but it also can save you a ton of money over the long run. Project Sunroof makes it easier for people to understand and see the long term benefits of solar panels.
According to NBCNews, President Obama wants to increase the use of solar power across the country. By 2020, Obama hopes to create 75,000 more jobs in solar energy, install solar panels on federally subsidized housing, and offer loans for low-income Americans to get solar power.
Because of these initiatives, it makes sense for Project Sunroof to expand. Right now, Google only offers estimates in San Francisco and Fresno, Calif., and Boston, Mass.
Carl Elkin, Engineering Lead for Project Sunroof, says in the Google Green Blog, “While Project Sunroof is in a pilot phase for now, during the coming months we’ll be exploring how to make the tool better and more widely available. If you find that your address isn’t covered by the tool yet, you can leave your email address and we’ll let you know when Project Sunroof is ready for your rooftop!”
Project Sunroof is just the start. With the future of solar energy expanding, more people can access the information they need to learn about the costs, benefits, and savings of solar power. Soon enough, you will be able to find out just how much you could save by installing solar panels on your home.