by Napier Lopez
Google wants to make it easy for people to consider using solar power for their homes. Today it launched a tool called Project Sunroof, which uses Google Maps data to calculate your roof's solar energy potential.
Project Sunroof Introduction Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_BXf_h8tEes
It's a simple but clever system: using high resolution satellite imagery, Google measures your rooftop area to calculate how much you could benefit from solar energy.
It'll provide an estimate for the amount of sunlight your rooftop will have available per year, taking into account shade from trees and nearby buildings, as well as roof orientation and weather. You can also input your typical electricity bills to fine tune your results.
This information is then combined to calculate how much money you could save, and Google will link you to local solar providers.
It's a clever idea that could actually entice people who might have otherwise not been interested in solar energy. Carl Elkin, Engineering Lead, says he created the project to counter people who misguidedly believe that solar energy is too expensive, or that their rooftops don't get enough sunlight.
Project Sunroof takes away the complications and makes it easy to make this assessment quickly and at your own leisure, without needing to invest hours on an expert to come in and provide a price quote. The process takes about 10 seconds.
To try out the tool for yourself, simply enter your address on the Project Sunroof website. It currently only works in the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno and Boston, but will expand to other regions "over the coming months."