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Published on July 3rd, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Solar Panels Suitability Checker — iPhone/iPod/iPad App (Free)

July 3rd, 2012 by  

solar-panels-suitability-checker-app I recently ran across a pretty sweet solar power iEverything app (that is, it’s an app for numerous versions of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad).

The app is a solar panel suitability checker… as you might have guessed from the title. ūüėČ

To be more clear, the iTunes page states: “The solar panels suitability checker will help you to identify if your roof or other location is suitable for solar panel installation.”

The screenshots from the iTunes page look pretty interesting. I wish I had an iSomething to try it out myself — this is one of the most enticing apps I think I’ve ever run across.

The app comes from the website Solar Panels UK (a pretty attractive-looking solar website, in my humble opinion).

The app uses google maps technology… as so many do. “After downloading the app for either iPhone or iPad to their device, the user can simply press the ‘Use Current Location’ button to allow the suitability checker to locate them via the inbuilt GPS feature,” a news release states. “Alternatively one can also manually enter the address of the site and select the country from the drop down menu.”

Once the location is nailed down using satellite imagery, the app “uses a performance graph overlay to help identify the suitability of the site or specific section of the property’s roof.” That would be the colorful thing in the second image above.

All well and good, and it certainly seems like it’s worth a look. Not perfect yet, perhaps, but the company also notes that it is already developing version 2.0, which it says will “factor in sun time data based on GPS location and also slope/tilt angle of the roof to give estimated energy generation in kWh.” That’s insanely sweet. If this company were in the US, I imagine it would have won one of those recent DOE SunShot grants for bringing down the “soft costs” of going solar.

If all of the above wasn’t cool enough, I also don’t think anyone will complain about the fact that the app is actually free.

Of course, since it is based on google maps, the app works essentially everywhere in the world. To learn more and/or get the app, head on over to:

All images via Solar Panels UK

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB ‚ÄĒ after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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  • Sirsparks Eletrical

    I have 80% of my PV in the “excellent” position and 20% in the “OK” (270 degrees)¬†position. ¬†This is actually an advantage to me because during the best part of the day 80% is all I need and then the remaining 20% produce “full” power from about 2pm and¬†continue¬†producing significant power 2 hours longer than the 80% panels. ¬†The reason for this is simple; in later afternoon the ¬†sun is close to West not South. Mine are set at 50 degrees for optimum later sun efficiency.

    • Bob_Wallace

      How are your panels wired?  Are you using on-panel inverters, separate inverters for the 80 and 20?  

    • Nice! ūüėÄ

  • GaryBIS

    Free is good, but it looks a bit minimal.  It looks like about all it does is tell you that roof surfaces that point near south are better?

    Seems like not taking into account possible shading could be a big problem.

    I suppose I’m a bit prejudiced (because its mine), but I like this hand method:¬†http://www.builditsolar.com/SiteSurvey/site_survey.htm¬† On the down side, it takes about an hour. ¬†But, on the up side its a fun family activity, and anyone doing it learns quite a bit about the motion of the sun through the seasons and how that effect solar gain and how it impacts shading — something EVERYONE should know ūüôā

    Its also fairly easy to do a rough model of your house and¬†potential¬†shading objects in Google SketchUp. ¬†SketchUp has a built in sun and does a really nice job of showing shading patterns — a simple example:¬†http://www.builditsolar.com/References/SketchUp/SketchUpEx.htm

    Bright Harvest offers a really nice analysis from satellite pictures that does an good job with shading analysis and all the rest.  Its kind of pricey, but when you are going to spend many thousands of dollars on a solar array, it probably makes sense to spend a hundred on knowing whether its going to work and how much energy its going to produce.  I used it on my house and and it found some things I never thought about: http://www.builditsolar.com/References/BrightHarvest/BrightHarvest.htm

    Once you have a location without shading issues, just running PVWatts from NREL is very easy and gives a very good estimate of montly and yearly power output.  Also easy to use it to do tilt and azimuth studies, and/or tracked vs not tracked PV panels.

    Appreciate the work you guys do on a day in and day out basis — thanks!


    • Nice stuff. Definitely some fun projects!

      If you have any interest, happy to have you post some guest posts on these possibilities. Let me know. Email: zach@importantmedia.org

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