Google helping homeowners install solar rooftop panels

Google has launched a new tool to help American homeowners determine if their homes get enough sunlight to make solar panels worth the investment.

The pilot project is designed “to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone,” according to the Project Sunroof website.

The tool uses high-resolution aerial mapping (the same used by Google Earth) to help homeowners calculate their solar energy potential. It shows how much sunlight falls on a roof by taking into account roof orientation, shade from nearby buildings and trees and local weather patterns that could affect solar energy production, writes engineering lead Carl Elkin in a Green Blog post.

In addition to recommending the most effective solar installation size and calculating projected savings, Project Sunroof uses current solar industry pricing data to help homeowners choose if they should lease, take a loan or buy solar panels. It can even connect homeowners to local solar panel providers that will install the system for them.

Project Sunroof is currently available in Boston, Fresno and San Francisco, but Google is exploring how to make the tool more widely available in the months to come.


Photo credit: Oregon Department of Transportation, flickr/Creative Commons

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