Installing solar panels is a complicated process since it's often difficult to know if the home receives enough light to justify the investment. However, Google has found a way to help consumers decide whether to go solar.
Google recently announced Project Sunroof, a tool that allows users to look up an address and find information related to the costs and savings of having a solar power system installed on their home, so they can make a more informed decision.
Project Sunroof has a database of how much solar energy hits each property in a city and is intended as a treasure map for future green energy projects, estimating the savings consumers could make and also calculate the return of investment.
Project Sunroof is currently only available in the San Francisco Bay Area; Fresno, California; and the Boston area. If it turns out to be successful, Google hopes to make the service more widely available in the coming months, the company said in a blog post.
The tool checks Google Maps, satellite imagery data, and information from other databases to calculate the estimated costs and savings. It also calculates the amount of sunlight per year that will hit the roof.
To do this, the tool runs completely on 3D modelling of the homeowner's roof. It considers all possible sun positions throughout the year and takes into account the shadows cast by nearby structures and trees in the area. Historical cloud and temperature patterns are also taken into consideration to analyze how much sunlight the roof will receive.
Project Sunroof will also recommend an installation size that would create 100 per cent of the homeowner's energy use, based on roof size and the amount of sun hitting the roof. The tool gives the entire breakdown of how the electricity bills change, cost for the lease, loan, and finance required for the installation, Google says.
The tool also takes into account the tax rebates and other benefits the homeowner's area is subject to while installing a solar panel. The savings for the next 20 years will be calculated by the system to make them understand its return.
To make it easier for consumers, the tool also provides them with a list of local solar energy providers who could perform the installation. However, this is solely based on the interest of the user.
With solar energy costs coming down in the recent past, more and more households are using solar power. Though the availability is currently limited, Project Sunroof underscores Google's growing ambitions in the home services market.