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Google’s ‘Project Sunroof’ Helps Homeowners Calculate Roof’s Solar Energy Potential

A new 20% project from Google labeled ‘Project Sunroof’ will provide homeowners the opportunity to calculate the possible solar energy potential of their rooftops.

Google allows its employees 20% of their paid work time to work on their own project, with the possibility that those projects will become part of the larger Google package. Carl Elkin, a volunteer with the Boston-based solar program Solarize Massachusetts and a solar homeowner himself, developed Project Sunroof, “a new online tool” that Elkin believes will “help homeowners explore whether they should go solar or not.”

The project is currently limited to the San Francisco Bay Area, Fresno (in central California), and the Boston area, and provides homeowners access to the same high-resolution aerial mapping used by Google Earth to help calculate their own roof’s solar energy potential, “without having to climb up any ladders.”

Google-3According to Elkin:

If you’re in one of our test regions, simply enter your address and Project Sunroof will crunch the numbers. It first figures out how much sunlight hits your rooftop throughout the year, taking into account factors like roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns. You can also enter your typical electric bill amount to customize the results. The tool then combines all this information to estimate the amount you could potentially save with solar panels, and it can help connect you with local solar providers.

Naturally, many of Google’s 20% products enter life in a limited beta — as is the case with Project Sunroof’s limited roll-out to San Francisco, Fresno, and Boston. However, Elkin notes that “during the coming months we’ll be exploring how to make the tool better and more widely available.”


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