Will Solar Panels Save You Money? Ask Project Sunroof

Online tool uses aerial mapping technology to determine whether solar panels are a wise investment.

Project Sunroof is a new online tool that helps U.S. homeowners determine whether installing solar panels will save money using the same high-resolution aerial mapping technology as Google Earth.

Carl Elkin, Engineering Lead for Project Sunroof, explained in a recent blog post that the tool takes a number of factors into account when making its calculations. These include:

·         How much sunlight shines on your rooftop over the course of the day

·         The orientation of the panels

·         Shade caused by trees and other houses

·         Local weather patterns

Elkin further explains that based on this data, Project Sunroof creates a “solar score” for each homeowner.

Project Sunroof was originally launched in August 2015. (Screenshot courtesy of Project Sunroof.)

Project Sunroof was originally launched in August 2015. (Screenshot courtesy of Project Sunroof.)

After the tool collects the physical data of your house and the surrounding area, it gives you the opportunity to provide information about what you pay for electricity. Using this information, it compares commercial electricity costs to the solar panels. Factoring in the costs of installation, upkeep, and solar score, Project Sunroof recommends if the solar cells are the right financial decision.

Project Sunroof is only available to a few areas in select states, including Arizona, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, New York, Colorado, Nevada, and North Carolina. You can find out online if you’re in one of the covered areas.

Elkin estimates that a solar panel system is installed once every two and a half minutes in the U.S. However, solar power still only generates half a percent of American electricity. Perhaps with Project Sunroof we will see higher adoption of the technology.

Project Sunroof was originally launched in August 2015. To learn more about Project Sunroof and other environmentally friendly initiatives, visit Google’s Green Blog.