At least on paper, installing solar panels on your house makes sense; after the initial slug of the upfront cost, they'll save you money on your power bills and can even eliminate your reliance on the grid entirely with a battery backup. Getting a trained surveyor to check your roof is expensive though, especially if it's not suitable and you've wasted cash. A new Google project will work out how much money you might save from a solar panel installation, and it'll eventually roll out to Australia.
Solar power image via Shutterstock
As explained on the company's Green Blog, Google Sunroof is its name. It makes perfect sense — Google already has a bunch of high resolution aerial mapping images of the roofs of homes and businesses, and it has those images transposed onto a globe and tied into planetary data (the location of the Sun and moon at various times of the year) via Google Earth. From that point, it's only a small hop, skip and jump to Sunroof, which also takes nearby shade and local weather patterns into account.
Sunroof's appeal is that it'll map out which areas of your roof are most appropriate for solar power, how much sunlight your home or business actually gets in a year, and how much money saved that could translate into over a year, or over the life of a set of solar panels — whether they're leased from a supplier (as is becoming more popular in Australia) or purchased.
At the moment, Sunroof is only available to a select few areas of previously mapped residential areas in the Google heartland that is the San Francisco Bay area, Fresno in California, and Boston, Massachusetts. If it proves popular in the US, or if it doesn't run into any significant technical hurdles along the way — unlikely, since it's backed by the massive multinational tech giant — we're likely to see it in Australia.
The biggest obstacle for Google Sunroof to overcome in Australia is the fact that it links to a variety of different solar installers; down under, we don't really have that many with the scale of US providers. All it'll take is a couple of partnerships, though, and we could have easy access to a massive database of info that would make the process of choosing solar panels easier and significantly cheaper. [Google Sunroof]