Have you ever wondered how much sun your roof gets?
Whether you are in the planning stages of a solar panel installation project or looking to optimize your current solar setup, you may be looking for tools to assist you along the way. Traditionally, sunlight exposure studies were used to identify the best panel orientation and angle for peak solar power production. A device to record the hours sunlight and intensity would be left in the area desired for solar panel installation. Some studies would range from a month to a year depending on the research and development budget for the project.
Today, there are equally as effective online tools and databases available that are loaded with useable information that can cut the length of a sunlight exposure study to mere hours! In this article we will outline some of the best solar panel installation planning tools available for professionals and DIYer’s alike.
How does project sunroof work?
Simply visit the project sunroof website, enter your address (U.S. addresses only at this time) and get detailed information on anything from sunlight on rooftops in your area or existing solar arrays, potential environmental impact and even how to finance your solar panels including the number of years until payback. Using Google Earth and Google Maps, project sunroof will analyze your rooftop and give specifications on the sunlight exposure and identify optimal areas for solar panel placement.
How accurate is project sunroof?
It does take some median values for roof square footage and estimates on the viable number of roofs that would be able to produce solar with panels installed. Given that the results are based on information collected through a variety of channels without having your roof directly assessed by someone with experience and knowledge in solar panel project initiation, don’t count on the findings alone before putting your panels up. Project sunroof is a great tool to get the ball rolling and build excitement about solar energy. For this, we raise our glass to project sunroof!
What is a good solar score?
Project sunroof does not focus on a solar score but rather the number of hours of usable sunlight per year and square footage available for solar panels based on 3D modelling. The coloring of the roof will even show areas that get more sun helping you plan your project accordingly.
Some solar panel manufacturers and installation companies will use a simple solar score from 0-100 to rapidly indicate the feasibility for solar and this can be effective also as long as there is an accredited and qualified person behind the research and calculation.
Other online tools to assist with your solar setup
PV Watts calculator by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is another online based tool to assist with planning your solar project. There are more variables that can be adjusted here with a focus on system information and current retail electricity rate. When combined with Project Sunroof, one can harness two powerful means of gathering important information when considering solar or optimization of a project in progress.