- Renewable & Alternative Energy
Google Wants You To Use More Solar Energy
Google's 'Project Sunroof' aims to make the transition to solar energy easier by providing a service that allows you to enter your street address through their website, where you are than presented a summary of information necessary to make the decision to switch to solar energy.
As solar panels and their installations have gotten cheaper over the years with summers increasing in intensity, supplementing one's electric bill with a little vitamin D has become a viable alternative for middle class, saving some people thousands of dollars each year, depending on their energy consumption. Unfortunately for most of the US, project sunroof is only available to those who live in Fresno, The Greater Boston area and the San Francisco Bay Area. But fear not, Google has plans to expand this service nationwide... Eventually.
But how does it work?
When you enter your address into Sunroofs search bar you are presented with a google earth birds eye view of your home fit with a heat map to display how much sun your roof is receiving. You are presented with a summary detailing your potential savings, local solar providers, the square feet on your roof available for solar panel installation, and an estimation of annual savings.
Sunroof will help you determine just how much it will cost you to have solar panels installed whether you are planning to buy, lease or loan your solar panels. Sunroof will also tell you just how long it will take for those solar panels to pay themselves off.
To give you an idea, if my monthly energy bill is $125 and I chose to purchase the solar panels upfront in full at $13,000, Sunroof estimates that it will take those solar panels 8 years to pay themselves off based on the money I have saved on my electric bill.
In it's essence, Google's 'Project Sunroof' is a free and instantaneous detailed solar panel consultation service. A convenient tool for deciding whether or not to make the switch.
How accurate is it?
Google claims that Project Sunroof uses their database of aerial imagery and maps provided by google earth to create a 3D model of your roof to accurately gauge how much sunlight you receive throughout a given year, as well as how much square foot you have available for solar panel installation. With the nifty heat map sunroof provides you can get a good physical representation of just how much energy you will be able to draw through your solar panels.
To conclude just how much sun your roof receives google takes into account several factors including:
- a complete years worth of aerial imagery and mapping,
- taking into account the 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.
On top of the calculations necessary to provide to any solar panel installer such as available square feet and the amount of sunlight you receive per year, project sunroof will also calculate precisely how much power you will need to generate to power your home so you don't end up generating more power that you can use, as well as how much square footage those solar panels would take up.
Project sunroof also provides you with a convenient contact form you can fill out and submit to several selected local solar providers all at the same time for added convenience.
When will 'Project Sunroof' expand to include my area?
There hasn't been any official word yet as to how long those of us without access to the service will have to wait to see Project Sunroof in our areas.
So should you begin supplementing your energy consumption with the sun? Well if you live in Fresno, San Francisco or Boston then you can see for yourself!
If you live outside of these areas that doesn't mean you can't save money and the environment by supplementing solar energy. Many solar panel installation companies are willing to do free consultations to determine the efficiency of solar panels, tally your savings and provide a cost estimate for their services.
It has never been more cost effective to switch to solar energy than it is right now. So if you just purchased a home, or plan on living in your current home for the next decade or so, than solar power may be a worthwhile investment that, with the assistance of project sunroof, is almost certain to pay off.