Consumer Technology google project sunroof

Published on January 8th, 2016 | by Adam Johnston

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Google’s Project Sunroof Is Growing, Reaches 20 US Metro Markets

January 8th, 2016 by  

Google’s Project Sunroof is growing, as it has just reached 20 US metro markets, which will allow more homeowners to easily see if rooftop solar is right for them.

google project sunroof

The giant tech company just announced it’s expanding its analytical tool from three major US cities (Boston, Fresno, and San Francisco) to 20 metropolitan areas. The solar mapping tool will be available in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Nevada, and Arizona.

Project Sunroof, with help from Google maps, allows customer to see if rooftop solar can work for them. This tool takes into account shadow obstruction from nearby trees and objects, while factoring in weather patterns and historical weather data. Project Sunroof helps consumers to see how much they would save on their energy bills should they go solar. The website also provides information on local installers who can help to install solar panels for their home (as several other sites do, but with the Google brand and some innovations).

If customers are also looking for a second opinion, Project Sunroof provides a link to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) PVWatts tool, which “calculates hourly or monthly PV energy production based on minimal input,” according to the NREL website.

Project Sunroof and the PV Watts Tool are just part of a growing list solar mapping tools. Sungevity uses in-house-only analytical tools that include mapping to offer customer quotes, for example.

Now, which other tech company will get into solar mapping next? Microsoft? Apple, perhaps? Regardless, there is plenty of room to get into this aspect of the solar energy business, as the US solar market is growing continuously.

 
 
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About the Author

Is currently studying at the School of the Environment Professional Development program in Renewable Energy from the University of Toronto. Adam graduated from the University of Winnipeg with a three-year B.A. combined major in Economics and Rhetoric, Writing & Communications. Adam also writes for Solar Love and also owns his own part time tax preparation business. His eventual goal is to be a cleantech policy analyst, and is currently sharpening his skills as a renewable energy writer. You can follow him on Twitter @adamjohnstonwpg or at www.adammjohnston.wordpress.com.



  • Dragon

    I don’t see why any other tech company would get into making these tools since it’s hard to make much money on it, especially after Google has already done it first. Apple didn’t bother to compete with Google in mapping. Microsoft did and has been mostly a failure at attracting much interest. For Google to add solar roofs costs them little beyond what they’ve already invested in mapping technology.

    I was surprised to discover that Google has recently made everything in my small town 3d. Every tree, house, even a few parked cars that didn’t move for a long time now pop up in 3D when you switch Google Maps into Google Earth mode. It was really fascinating to look at. I’m pretty sure they’re extrapolating the 3D from satellite images taken at different angles. Going from there to solar roofs should be relatively straightforward other than perhaps the algorithm to pattern recognize the roofs. They probably use property boundary data to limit the areas where they look for roofs.

  • NRG4All

    Now if they will just help us in AZ to fight the electric utilities that have convinced (bought?) the Corp. Commis. to allow the utility to levy a surcharge on any house that has roof top solar (over and above the “fixed” charges that already appear on the bill).

  • I work in solar and wonder if this is good for installers, especially local ones.

  • JamesWimberley

    The prediction that others will pile in and offer competing tools is strange. Both Sunroof and PvWatts are free, so a competing product would have to be free too. The image gain would go down. Google makes money from advertising with searches, but much of the rest of the ecosystem consists of loss leaders.

    • Jenny Sommer

      Google Earth and Maps needs to be licensed. If you want to use Google maps for example with the Tacx Cycling software you have to pay a yearly fee.
      Google sometimes sells off software too like SketchUp to Trimble and you always had to pay for the SketchUp Pro.

  • Narayan

    An ad in this page by understandSolar explicitly said it would estimate “How much money can a solar roof save you in India”. I clicked on it, and it says I am out of the range, but presents links to suggest I like them on face book etc. 🙂

  • Kraylin

    What a great idea from our google overlords ! =) Anything to help spread the good information about solar will help.

    The solar proposal I had done this year used a google maps image and superimposed the array onto the roof of my house, all done without having to visit my house.

    • Jenny Sommer

      I use geolocation tools all the time to do sunstudies. You can just place architecture in ScetchUp and model surrounding objects from photos you take of the shades they cast.
      Set time and date and once you have modeled every object you can run a sunstudy and see shadows for any time and date.
      Sketch uo lets you set geolocations from a map or coordinates and shows the map on the modeling plane.

      • ADW

        SketchUp

        • Dragon

          SketchDown?

    • Jenny Sommer

      There is also a PV tool that lets you calculate average output for your installation…
      https://youtu.be/U4MXyzgC1Jk

      I use it for architectural sun/shadow studies though.

    • Glen Davies

      QuickSolar. One of their in-house designers will do a remote assessment for you and send it back within 24 hrs, for free. I had one done a couple weeks ago–

      • Most companies do this now. I work with Vision Solar and this is complimentary and same day,

        • Glen Davies

          True. The difference here is that QuickSolar is a software company, and not affiliated with any one solar installer, so you’re getting an “unbiased” opinion.

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