We’re in the golden age of solar power, when the technology costs have dropped to the point where it is equal or below those of other sources of energy–a situation known as grid parity. In the U.S., there are also a range of federal and state incentives to sweeten the deal. However, figuring out whether solar makes good financial sense for a particular home can be complicated.
A pilot project from Google, Project Sunroof, lets you do the analysis, demystifying the process so you can approach it with confidence. In its debut, Project Sunroof only covers homes in the San Francisco Bay Area; Fresno, California; and Boston, but the plan is to roll out more widely.
If you speak to someone at a solar provider today, they are most likely using Google Earth to evaluate your rooftop. Project Sunroof lets you see your roof for yourself, giving you a colored map of your sun exposure, from the sunniest part (yellow) to the shadiest (purple). It also tells you how large your solar array needs to be and estimates how much it costs to lease or buy. You can easily input your own information to fine-tune the results.