Setting up a solar-power system in your home is a fairly complicated endeavor. Before you even start installing solar panels, you’ve got to figure out how much they’ll cost, how many you need, and how much money (if any) your investment will save you over time — not to mention whether or not your house gets enough sunlight to make solar power a viable option in the first place.
As the world’s most popular search engine, Google knows exactly how tricky this process is. Users enter zillions of solar-related questions into the engine on a daily basis, so the company decided to build a tool that makes going solar easier than ever. Project Sunroof, as it’s called, is a brilliant new program that leverages Google Maps data to answer all of your complicated solar energy questions in one place.
Here’s how it works. Over the years, Google has been collecting satellite imagery of every property in the world. These images contain a treasure trove of useful data — including the total area of your roof and how much sunlight it gets over the course of a normal day. Project Sunroof basically takes this data and makes it easier to digest. Simply enter in your address, and the program will calculate how much usable solar energy your house could generate if it were equipped with X number of solar panels.
And it doesn’t stop there, either. Google also knows roughly how much energy costs in your area, and can use that information to estimate how much you could potentially save by installing solar panels. It even breaks down financial plans and provides links to solar installation companies in your area.
Unfortunately the service isn’t available everywhere quite yet. For the time being, Project Sunroof will only work for houses and buildings located in Boston, Fresno, and San Francisco. Google plans to expand the service to other cities in the future, but the initial rollout is limited to just a select few. If your area isn’t covered yet, try it out on Digital Trends’ San Francisco office address to get a feel for how it works!
1750 Montgomery Street, San Francisco, CA 94111