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Rooftop Solar with Project Sunroof

Google Gives Homeowners a View of Rooftop Solar with Project Sunroof

Ever heard of Google’s Project Sunroof? For tens of millions of homeowners, it’s an easy way to find out if their house is suitable for solar panels.

Project Sunroof is a solar power initiative created by Google engineer Carl Elkin with the goal of “mapping the planet’s solar potential, one roof at a time”. It essentially leverages Google’s expansive data in mapping and its computing resources to help users calculate the maximum solar resource available to their home.

The initiative was launched in August 2015 in three cities- San Francisco, Fresno, and Boston. In January 2016, it expanded to 20 U.S. metropolitan markets in the most active solar states in the U.S. and then in April grew to 42 states (including parts of Florida) with the ability to analyze approximately 43 million rooftops.

How does Project Sunroof work?

  • When you enter your address, Project Sunroof looks up your home in Google Maps and combines that info with other databases to generate a personalized roof analysis.
  • In order to compute how much sunlight hits your roof annually, Project Sunroof takes into account:
    • Google's database of aerial imagery and maps
    • 3D modeling of your roof
    • Shadows cast by nearby structures and trees
    • All possible sun positions over the course of a year
    • Historical cloud and temperature patterns that might affect solar energy production
  • Based on all of the data, Project Sunroof recommends an installation size to generate close to 100% of your electricity use (based on roof size, the amount of sun hitting the roof and your electricity bill).
  • From there, Project Sunroof uses current solar industry pricing data to price out leasing, taking a loan or buying solar panels for your home and calculates your final cost considering federal and state tax credits, utility rebates and renewable energy credits.
  • If you choose, Project Sunroof can also put you in contact with solar providers in your area.

(It should be noted that Project Sunroof doesn’t give your address to anyone else, including providers unless you ask it to.)

Project Sunroof is designed to provide a broad, liberal, and understandable view of the solar resource on your home or for an address you input. The output is a useful first step for homeowners who are interested in the basic understanding of their homes solar feasibility.

Need a more detailed view of your home?

Here at Vinyasun we actually use this same data and technology but are able to dig deeper to provide you and other homeowners with a specific calculation of the most usable areas of your home -- not just a broad range. By isolating the most usable areas of the rooftop we can then design the most productive and cost effective solar system ensuring that you pay less for energy by switching to rooftop solar.

Are you in interested seeing how much solar energy is hitting your home? Are you interested in solar panels for your home? Contact us for a free home energy analysis and start with a free shade and energy analysis and report for your home just like the data from Google Project Sunroof?

Get up to 6 months of Free Solar

Frequently Asked Questions

Can FPL or my HOA prevent me from switching to solar?

The Florida Solar Rights Act is a law that forbids any entity—including homeowner associations—from prohibiting the installation of solar or other renewable energy devices on Florida buildings.

An association may require approval of a system installation and may establish restrictions for installations. However, any such restrictions must be reasonable, not arbitrary, and applied in a uniform manner for all association members. Also, any restrictions must not have the effect of impairing the performance, or increasing the cost, of a solar system.

In particular, a homeowner association may not prevent the installation of solar collectors on the roof of a home. The association may determine where on the roof the collectors may be installed, so long as the collectors face within 45 degrees of due south.

Finally, any requirement(s) that a system be screened from view by trees, fences, ground mounting racks, or a remote roof location that is hidden from the street, will generally violate the statute.

Click here to verify information is provided by the Florida Solar Energy Industry Association

Is solar free for Florida homeowners?
  • The sun is free to everyone.
  • Solar panels and specific back-up battery systems qualify for a number of rebates, tax credits and incentives.
  • There is a cost associated with solar energy because you are paying for your system. 
  • Financing enables homeowners to make the transition with $0 upfront costs
  • Systems often cost the same amount monthly as your current FPL bill
  • Solar puts equity in your home because you own the system and increases the value a minimum of 4.1% - click here for the Zillow case study

Does solar increase my home value?

Not only can adding solar panels to a home save energy costs and help the environment, it also can potentially increase a home’s value. In 2019 Zillow found that homes with solar energy systems sold for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar power. For the median-valued home, that translates to an additional $9,274.

The sale premium varies substantially by market. In Riverside, Calif., for example, homes with solar-energy systems sold for 2.7% more than comparable homes without solar power—a markup of $9,926 for the median-valued home in the metro. In the greater New York City metro, solar-powered homes have a premium that is double that of Riverside. At 5.4%, that’s an extra $23,989 in value for the typical home in New York. In three other coastal metro areas—Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orlando, Fla.—homes with solar power can fetch a premium of around 4%.

Sun travels 91 million miles to power your home-1

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