As you begin your solar journey, one of the first steps is to determine whether your home is a candidate for rooftop solar. Several resources are available to give you an early assessment of the feasibility of solar for your house. Though a solar professional will evaluate multiple factors like roof type, roof condition, the direction your home faces, and the region you’re in, solar calculators and estimators are a good way to begin setting realistic expectations for how a solar power system could contribute to your energy needs.
Google’s Project Sunroof allows you to input your home address through Google Maps integration. The program calculates how much sunlight hits your roof each year, taking historical weather data, possible sun positions, and shadows from nearby structures into account. Project Sunroof also allows users to input information from their electric bill and estimate potential savings with different financing options.
As of May 2016, the project had expanded to include data for 42 states and nearly 43 million rooftops, according to Greentech Media. Analysis is currently unavailable for Hawaii, Alaska, Texas, South Dakota, Idaho, Tennessee, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia, but Google is actively working to cover these areas in the next few months.
Find Solar offers a variety of interactive maps that can help determine your solar potential as well as locate solar rebates and incentives in your area. Their Solar Power Incentive Map can identify savings for both residential and commercial solar installations while the Solar Power Rating Maps allows you to see how your state’s solar incentives compare with others.
For a more comprehensive look at state solar incentives and policies, check out the DSIRE® state-searchable map. This resource allows users to search for solar incentives by clicking on their state or inputting their zip code. Search results can be filtered by categories such as program type, implementing sector, and coverage area. You can also compare incentives across states by hovering your cursor over each state to see the total number. Additionally, the DSIRE® offers data on third-party solar power purchase agreement policies, net metering policies, and energy efficiency resource standards.
If you’re a New York City resident, you now have access to a comprehensive solar calculator for the entire city. Development of the NYC Solar Map was led by Sustainable CUNY and launched in 2011. Similar to Project Sunroof, the NYC Solar Map allows users to input an address for any building in the city to calculate its potential for solar energy. The map also features existing solar installations and shows the city’s solar energy production in real time. You can also use incentives and different payment options to estimate the potential cost of going solar.
If you’re comfortable working with more technical data—such as land ownership, environmental, administrative, and infrastructural data—the NREL Solar Prospector might be a good resource for you. This tool was designed more to assess large-scale solar installations, but this estimator can still provide valuable data on the potential for a solar power system in your area.
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