David Papp Blog

Clean Tech: Solar Roof Savings Calculator

Can Google Help You Make Money with Your Roof?

Have you ever thought about going solar? Do you just need a new roof?  Or maybe you’re old enough to remember all those 70’s oil crisis stories about selling energy back to the power companies …

Now you can see what’s possible with Google’s Project Sunroof.  The website adds up a quick estimate of how much a solar roof will cost you and how much money you’ll save on energy over the next 20 years.

It even tells how much you might profit by selling your surplus energy … assuming you don’t have the Christmas lights on all year round or run a fleet of supercomputers in your basement.

Just enter your U.S. address and click the orange “check my roof” button. The calculator instantly displays:

  • How many hours of powerful rays you get each year
  • The number of square feet available for solar panels based on 3D modeling of your roof
  • How much money you could save over 20 years based on energy costs and tax credits.

Fine-tune the results by submitting your average monthly electric bill total and picking a finance plan.

Project Sunroof also provides

  • An estimate for installation costs
  • An estimate of state and federal tax incentives
  • And a prediction of your Solar Renewable Energy Credits

(SRECs allow you to actually make money with your roof by selling surplus energy back to your utility company).

Finally, Google hooks you up with local providers so you can get started right away.


A Greener World

It’s an affordable time to go solar in many countries.  In the USA, thanks to the Solar Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC), 30% of the cost of your approved solar roof will be refunded by Uncle Sam.  The ITC went into effect with the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  An initial $2000 cap was removed when the policy was expanded later in 2008.  It was extended again in 2015 to stay in effect until December 31, 2021.

In 2016, the tax credit alone brought 2.4 billion dollars to business and residential solar energy users.  The trend is expected to grow. Between 2016 and 2020, the Government expects to pay out $12.3 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.  And the Solar Energy Industries Association predicts we’ll use three times as much energy from the sun – an increase from the current 27GW of usage to 100 GW by 2021.

Unfortunately, Canada doesn’t have a federal tax credit yet for solar energy. It should be modeled after the U.S. ITC above. Any current programs are at the provincial level and you can find out more details in this article.

How it works

Project Sunroof uses Google’s own mapping data, 3D modeling data, and shade calculations.

The project also brings in:

Try Tesla’s Calculator

Tesla’s sleek, textured, and traditional slate-style tiles are now available for order (Tuscan will be available in 2018).  The state-of-the-art, tempered glass units are top rated for hail and wind endurance to keep homes secure through seasonal storms. A Powerwall battery stores surplus energy and allows owners to choose when to use it.

Tesla’s calculator gives 30-year estimates.  Each roof is warrantied for “the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”  Enter your address, square footage, the number of floors, amount of solar coverage, and number of Powerwall batteries. Refine your results by submitting your home square footage and number of stories of your home.

You’ll immediately see:

  • The value of the energy you’ll get
  • Cost of the roof
  • Cost of the Powerwall battery
  • Estimated tax credit based on your location
  • The net you earn over 30 years.

A $1000 deposit gets you started. Orders are now available in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Jordan and the UAE.

California installations begin in June 2017.  They will be performed by Tesla’s Solar City Corporation.