Renewables

Google helps calculate the best solar plan for you

18th August 2015
Jordan Mulcare

As the price of installing solar has gotten less expensive, more homeowners are turning to it as a possible option for decreasing their energy bill. Google want to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone. Project Sunroof puts Google's expansive data in mapping and computing resources to use, helping calculate the best solar plan for users.

When an address is entered, Project Sunroof looks up the home in Google Maps and combines that information with other databases to create a personalised roof analysis. Project Sunroof computes how much sunlight hits the roof in a year. It takes into account Google's database of aerial imagery and maps, 3D modelling of the roof, shadows cast by nearby structures and trees, all possible sun positions over the course of a year and historical cloud and temperature patterns that might affect solar energy production.

Project Sunroof recommends an installation size to generate close to 100% of the electricity use, based on roof size, the amount of sun hitting the roof and electricity bill. Solar panel installations come in sizes measured in kW. When discussing solar installation with providers, the recommended installation size (in kW) is a good starting point for a more fine-tuned estimate of total costs and benefits.

Google recommend an installation that covers less than 100% of electrical usage because, in most areas, there is little financial benefit to producing more power than you can consume. Project Sunroof uses current solar industry pricing data to run the numbers on leasing, taking a loan, or buying solar panels for a house to help choose what's best for the customer.

Project Sunroof is currently helping people save with solar in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Boston and will roll out to other areas at a later date.

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