Is Your Home a Candidate for Rooftop Solar Panels?

Ever wondered if your home is a candidate for rooftop solar panels? According to Google, there’s a very good chance that it is.

According to pv magazine, Google’s online solar assessment tool – Project Sunroof – now covers almost 60 million buildings across all 50 states and 79% of the country’s rooftops have enough un-shaded area to successfully house rooftop solar panels.

Not only does the Google tool offer an optimistic picture for the nation’s solar potential, it’s also incredibly easy to use. All you have to do is go to the Project Sunroof tool and enter your street address. Google then uses imagery from Google Maps and Google Earth, combined with 3D modeling, to calculate how many hours of usable sunlight your home has per year, as well as how many square feet are available for rooftop solar panels.

Google is able to estimate how much sunlight is received by each part of your rooftop over the course of a year including factors like the position of the sun, weather patterns and shade caused by nearby obstructions. The tool then translated the estimated sunlight into energy production using standard solar installation performance models.

Project Sunroof even provides an instant estimate of how much you could save on your monthly electric bill and options for how to finance your new solar system either through leasing the panels, acquiring a loan or purchasing the system outright.

Unfortunately, the tool doesn’t take into account setbacks and neighborhood HOA restrictions on the panels themselves, but for consumers considering solar, it’s an easy way to take the first step.

According to Google, cities with the most potential output of rooftop solar panels are Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio and New York. (Some 90% of homes in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico were determined to be viable for solar installations.)

If the top 10 cities reached their full rooftop solar potential, they could produce enough energy to power 8 million homes across the U.S.

Google has been a longtime champion of alternative energy. An early adopter of rooftop solar panels at its headquarters in Mountain View, California, the tech giant said earlier this year that it plans to be powered 100% by renewable energy by 2017

Google is already the biggest corporate buyer of renewable electricity in the world – some 44% of its power came from wind and solar farms last year. The goal now is to buy 100% of its power from alternative energy sources including solar, wind, hydro and possibly even nuclear.

The goal, set by the company in 2012, is not to get all of its energy directly from wind and solar farms, but to match the amount it purchases from renewable sources to what its operation and data centers consume on an annual basis.