Google’s Project Sunroof, which started as a 20 percent project by Google engineering lead Carl Elkin, helps you figure out how well solar panels would work on your roof. The company launched the project in August, but at the time, it only covered homes in Boston and a few select areas in California. Today, Google is expanding Project Sunroof’s coverage to select metro areas in a few additional states.
It’s worth noting that Google seems to have a pretty broad definition of ‘metro area’ here. In my tests, Sunroof happily provided info for homes in Tuscon, Arizona and buildings in Las Vegas, but also for my old haunt of Willimantic, Connecticut, which few but its proudest residents would call a metro area.
So even if your home isn’t in a big city, it may be worth plugging your address into the tool to see if it’s already covered. Once you enter your address, you’ll see how many hours of usable sunlight you can expect to get out of your panels and much you could save by installing solar panels.
Google says it uses a special database that helps it evaluate the orientation of the roof, the height of nearby trees and other buildings, as well as local weather patterns to see how well solar panels would work on your roof.
If you decide to go ahead with installing solar panels, Project Sunroof will also show you a list of local installers. It’s worth noting that these may be sponsored listings, so you may also want to look at some other options.