Solar-Estimate.org, a SolarReviews company, has released a first-of-its-kind online solar estimator that puts state-of-the-art solar design software into the hands of consumers.
Solar-Estimate.org has long been known for accurate solar production and savings calculations, but its newest tool adds automated panel placement and real-world production modeling for a new, unprecedented level of accuracy.
While there are several solar design software packages that do exist, they are specifically for professional solar designers. They require training and aren’t suitable for consumers surfing the web.
The new Solar-Estimate.org tool is so easy to use, professional-grade design and financial accuracy are now accessible to consumers without any training. Millions of American homeowners will now be able to see the exact solar savings potential of their homes before even speaking to a solar installation company.
How does the online Solar Calculator work?
Homeowners who are interested in learning about how many solar panels could fit on their roof simply enter their address and the dollar amount of their last electric bill. They don’t need to know how much actual electricity they used or what time of day they used it.
The online estimator then does several things automatically:
- Confirms the local utility company, including the electric rates and tariff structures
- Determines the average electric usage of the home in kWh
- Looks up time-of-day and seasonal electric usage patterns for the area, backed by data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA)
- Utilizes local solar production data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratories, along with the slope and angle of the consumer’s roof to find out how many solar panels will be needed to offset that level of usage
While Solar-Estimate.org’s solar panel calculator has a history of providing solar savings data for consumers, the recently-added software offers features that no other tool has been able to before.
Incorporating the use of artificial intelligence
The machine-trained artificial intelligence “brain” looks at an aerial image of a property. From there, it works out the various roof planes available and the potential of each plane for solar panels. It then places solar panels on the most suitable places of the roof, calculates the expected production of each, and runs a cost-and-savings simulation for that system.
The savings forecasts in the estimator are powered by Genability, a government-audited service that is considered to be the gold standard in predicting solar savings.
Reports are customized for each user and are based on energy usage and rates, roofing material and condition, and brand of solar panels. The consumer may then choose for one to four pre-screened solar installers to contact them.
Other than entering an address for the purpose of identifying your roof (which is necessary for the calculation), there is no additional personal information required to generate an estimate.
“Solar panel production varies by geographic location, direction and tilt of the roof, shade, the rate plan of the utility company, and many other factors. That makes estimating solar costs a fundamentally difficult process — so much so that until now there has not been a single accurate online estimation tool for solar in America,” said Andy Sendy, president of Solar-Estimate.org.
“Solar-Estimate.org’s new Solar Panel Layout Tool is trailblazing on several fronts. It’s the first online roof layout tool that incorporates machine learning. It requires less knowledge than any professional tool to use. It’s also the first free tool available to consumers that takes into account roof direction and angle, determines how many panels can fit on their roof, and then generates an accurate financial estimate.
“This tool has taken more than two years to develop and reflects our commitment to providing homeowners interested in going solar with professional quality solar layout and cost estimation tools that are easy to access.”
Check out this video of an early tester using the new estimator tool.
News item from Solar-Estimate.org