Solar panels are the rage these days. But it is a complicated process for us to figure out whether a rooftop solar system makes a practical sense to your particular home. When it comes to installing a solar panel on your rooftop then so many question arise in our mind like what type of rooftop we have? How much sunlight does it get? What kind of financing is available in the market? And lots more. The answers to these questions can vary from place to place and home to home.
For all of us, it is a welcome news that Google wants to make this simpler with its new brand Project Sunroof tool. Just plug in your address and Google uses its imagery capabilities to figure out whether solar panel might be a worthwhile idea for you or not.
Currently, data is only available for selected parts of the country. Let’s look at a sample address given in Redwood City, California. The tool first calculates how big the roof is and how much sunlight it gets per year.
Next, you can estimate that whether solar panels on your roof make financial sense by plugging this in your monthly electricity bill. At the end, Google will give you a list of installers in your area. It all makes things much easier to figure out.
Note: The results differ from place to place, depending on all the circumstances. Like California has high electricity prices, which means there are bigger savings from installing rooftop solar panels. The tool also factors in various regional policy incentive like local rebates, state tax incentives, and what kind of net metering rules a state has that allow you to sell solar electricity back into the grid.
Ultimately, you will want to consult a solar provider before making any big decisions. But think about Project Sunroof, it is a good place to get started.
If rooftop solar doesn’t make sense for you then there’s still a community solar
Every home is not well suited to solar because some roofs are too shaded. And, there are some renters who live in basement apartments. By some estimates, US has only about 15.8 million roofs owned by people who can take advantage of solar energy.
But yes that is not the end of the story. There is another option available i.e. community solar. This is a program in which people who don’t own suitable roofs can agree to “subscribe” electricity from a solar PV project elsewhere. They have to pay a monthly charge that appears on their utility bill. Community solar is still a fairly niche, but it is growing in popularity quite rapidly.