Are solar panels right for you and your home or business? Will they save you money? Google’s Project Sunroof will help as the online service expands its reach to more homeowners, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
Google’s new project was originally only available in San Francisco, Fresno, and Boston. It expanded to the Raleigh area in December. Now, a few months after its initial release last August, 15 additional metropolitan areas are able to use Project Sunroof to calculate their custom solar power answers. The expansion includes select major cities in New York, New Jersey, Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada, Connecticut, and Colorado.
An expansion covering the entire United States, or perhaps even the entire globe, seems inevitable given Google’s extensive web mapping of the world, as users of Google Earth and Google Maps can attest. Google has confirmed that such plans are in place for the future.
In essence, Project Sunroof is a service designed to be used by homes and businesses to weigh the cost and benefits of buying or leasing solar panels. When you put in your address, Project Sunroof uses aerial photographs from Google Earth combined with local weather conditions, how much sunlight a rooftop gets, industry prices, and available local subsidies to assesses whether going solar is worth it, as previously covered by the Inquisitr.
“Using information already possessed by Google Maps, the Sunroof team decided to calculate how much energy could be generated, how many solar panels would be needed and associated costs, for every house in the area the Sunroof service is offered. Then, Google combines this information with information about local solar system installers and gives Sunroof users the ability to pick a system customized specifically for their home or business.”
Project Sunroof also takes into account other factors, such as the amount of electricity estimated to be consumed, utility rebates, and local market conditions, including state and federal tax credits. Google’s latest project was originally announced last August in a video posted to YouTube.
With the help of Google’s project, home and business owners can now easily calculate if it is financially viable for them to invest in solar energy. Interested potential buyers can also use the service to be referred to third-party solar panel installers for further consultation. The project’s “About Us” page gives instructions as to how to use the service and states its official purpose as making the cost and benefits of solar panels more accessible easier to understand.
“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. We 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 you.”
Carl Elkin, Engineering Lead for Project Sunroof, was quoted by NBC News regarding Google’s interest in the solar industry.
“We at Google believe in solar energy,” he said. “The solar industry needs our help.”
According to ZDNet, Elkin first designed the project as part of Google’s “20 percent time” initiative, which encourages employees to spend 20 percent of their work time to devote to side projects. Some of the more famous fruits of this “20 percent” offering include Gmail and Adsense.
NBC News also reports that Google is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to support of solar energy.
“Google has invested more than $1 billion in recent years into solar energy, including $300 million earlier this year into a fund that finances residential rooftop projects installed by SolarCity Corp. Google invested $280 million in the publicly traded company in 2011.”
Interested home or business owners within the select metro areas can use the service by entering their address in Project Sunroof’s website.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]