With the rise of solar panel installation, more and more homeowners are stumbling across solar savings calculators online. These tools, like Google’s Project Sunroof, claim to be able to tell you how much money you could save by installing solar panels on your roof — often only by entering your home address and an estimate of your monthly utility bill.
If this were true, it would be a huge knowledge boost to homeowners and could lower the barrier for solar system installation across the country. But are solar savings calculators accurate? Let’s review how these estimator tools actually come up with their findings and whether they can reliably be used for your home.
How Do Solar Savings Calculators Work?
Solar savings estimators, like Google’s Project Sunroof, calculate the potential size of your solar panel system by using satellite imaging to view the size of your roof, estimating factors like shading and potential tree coverage and gathering data about local weather trends to come up with calculations for:
The total installation cost for your solar panel system
Estimated lifetime savings compared to your current energy costs
Recommended solar panel system size (in kW)
Carbon footprint reduction potential
What Are the Pros and Cons of Solar Savings Calculators?
These calculators can be attractive to homeowners considering solar panel installation for their home for obvious reasons. They can be quickly calculated, and because they factor in an impressive amount of data from Google, combined with localized solar cost averages, they can give homeowners a near-instantaneous back-of-envelope figure.
However, for anyone who is seriously considering upgrading to solar, trusting these calculations to give you an accurate calculation can be a real gamble.
First, even the most high-tech calculators, like Project Sunroof, only cover a fraction of homes in the United States. For many homeowners, the closest you’ll be able to get is regionalized data, and as you have already realized, houses come in all shapes and sizes.
Simple user errors in entering or estimating data may significantly skew results, and do not always take into account other areas on your property (other than the roof) where you can install solar panels. Depending on which calculator you use, you may not be taking into account all rebates and tax credits available to you, like the Federal Solar Tax Credit, which can drastically change the total cost of solar for your home.
Depending on which calculator you use, the amount of guesswork or averaging that will go into your estimates may vary wildly, and if you accidentally enter inaccurate information, you could be given a number that is significantly different from the actual cost.
What’s the Best Way To Get a Reliable Solar Quote?
Solar saving estimator tools like Project Sunroof or the DOE’s PVWatts calculator can be fun to play around with. But they should be taken with several grains of salt, and if the figure you’re given is way too high for you to afford, don’t let that dissuade you from looking further into upgrading your home to solar energy.
The only reliable way to get an accurate picture of your energy savings is with a free on-site quote from a reliable solar installer like SOLENERGY.
Our solar power experts can give you a detailed assessment of your greater Lakeland or Polk County home’s potential for photovoltaic panel installation, help you review your current electricity bill, and advise you on how to maximize your solar electricity savings. From the location of panel installation to solar battery storage and even upgrades to SOLDEK pool and hot water heating, contact us to make an educated decision on the cost of solar.