Innovation That Matters

Using Google maps to calculate homes' solar potential

Property & Construction

As energy prices continue to climb, the idea of tapping the power of the sun may seem like a no-brainer. The process of getting solar panels installed, however, is quite the opposite, fraught with spreadsheets, technical details and terms like “albedo.” Enter RoofRay, a brand-new California startup that aims to give consumers better information so they can make more informed solar decisions. Currently in beta, RoofRay is a solar array modelling service and community designed to help consumers evaluate solar for their homes or businesses. Using the site’s modelling tools, consumers can estimate how much solar energy a home could capture and how that would affect their monthly bills based on past weather conditions, current power bills, the slope of their house, and how much panelling their roof can hold. One tool uses Google Maps to let users calculate the square footage of their roof and build virtual panels; RoofRay then estimates the output potential of the roof as well as financial considerations like costs of installation and upkeep and ROI. Another section shows existing installations that have already been completed by other people, including specifics of the roof used and total peak power. Ultimately, RoofRay hopes to create “RoofRaytings” for buildings and provide them to real-estate search engines as an indicator of the solar potential of homes or businesses for sale. It also plans to create an online marketplace where solar installers and integrators can bid for consumers’ business. As RoofRay points out, homes’ solar potential could become increasingly important as a factor in real-estate buying decisions. Making it easier for consumers to access that and other solar information will surely be a key step on the way to more widespread adoption of the technology and–the ultimate goal–less reliance on fossil fuels. (Related: Maps for new-energy entrepreneurs.) Spotted by: Bjarke Svendsen



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