US residents will soon be able to Google their home to see if it makes sense to go solar – and some already can.
The search giant will map the amount of sunlight your rooftop receives to help you decide if it makes sense to opt for a solar roof – because if it makes sense, you really should do it.
With the recently released Project Sunroof, you simply type in your address to find out how much space you have for solar panels on your roof, how many hours of rooftop sunlight you’ll get a year, and how much money you’d save. A Google Earth image of your home and your surrounding neighbourhood appears. The roofs will appear in colours ranging from purple to yellow to reveal the amount of sunlight that strikes the surface. The tool – which is still a pilot and so far only available for residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, and Fresno, California — is the brainchild of a Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Google software engineer.
The idea, however, isn’t new.
When it comes to the solar mapping scene, governments, the United States Department of Energy among them, and solar installers have developed similar tools to aid homeowners as they type in their address to determine how much solar power they can produce.
What makes Google’s tool unique is the fact that it uses machine learning to distinguish a rooftop from things like adjacent trees or lawns. The accuracy of the estimates of a roof’s solar abilities is increased by reducing the computer’s chance of accidentally including surrounding trees or lawns when assessing the rooftop’s exposure to sunlight.
The tool will also recommend the size of solar system that you should install based on your average electricity bill. It then calculates how much you’ll save depending on whether you decide to finance the solar array via a loan, lease, or purchase and offers the option of a consultation with one of Google’s solar provider partners.
The tool is expected to roll out to other areas of the United States in the coming months – and hopefully to Canada very soon after.