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Most homeowners are hesitant about investing in solar power because they don’t have enough information about the mechanics that drive such complex systems.

To help explain what early adopters and scientists have known for decades, Google is launching a one-stop, online portal for solar research. According to Carl Elkin, Engineering Lead for Project Sunroof, the tool can help individuals understand the potential of having a personal rooftop system:

“A typical solar home can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year on their electricity bill. But, as a volunteer with the Boston-based solar program Solarize Massachusetts and a solar homeowner myself, I’ve always been surprised at how many people I encounter who think that “my roof isn’t sunny enough for solar,” or “solar is just too expensive.” Certainly many of them are missing out on a chance to save money and be green.”

It Works Like a Search Engine

To get stared, you will need to enter your location in the address field. The website is a goldmine for relevant solar data, but before you clear the entire afternoon for the task, there’s one thing you should know- the portal only works for individuals based in Boston, Fresno or the San Francisco Bay Area. Google confirmed that there are plans to expand the coverage to other major cities around the US.

After supplying the online tool with an address in one of the participating cities, your screen will be flooded with neatly organized, actionable information. You’ll be able to see how many hours of usable sunlight your home is exposed to annually, and how much space you have for panels. The modified search engine also tells you the amount you can save over a set period of time, assuming all of the variables remain constant. There are options to make adjustments to the settings for more accurate estimations.

The search algorithms take several factors into consideration that can help ensure your first rooftop investment yields healthy returns. It takes local weather data and combines the information with nearby buildings, establishments and structures. For maximum financial benefits, Google suggests not to overshoot the production of solar power. Just a bit under the full threshold of your overall electrical usage is recommended.

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Friendly Kickbacks

If you’re sold on adding solar features to your roof after seeing the results, the online guide connects you with local dealers and installation companies. Google is probably getting kickbacks from every online purchase made from the website. But at this point, the internal partnerships and deals are pretty harmless for consumers.

You could try going straight to the dealer and fish for local discount rates (if any). Either way, the global tech brand just saved you from doing hours of tedious research and overwhelming math computations.

“We’re providing information to our users — which of course is absolutely core to Google’s mission — and we’re using data from many parts of the company. It also really fits in Google’s tradition investing in renewable energy,” explained Elkin.

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