Why You Shouldn’t Use Google’s Solar Panel Calculator

Cost Of Solar Panels
What Google's solar panel calculator actually does

Although a wonderful idea, Google’s solar panel calculator is not a perfect guide. Understanding how Google’s Sunroof program works will help you understand why this is the case. Sometimes a more impressive looking display and fancy list of accomplishments as a search engine aren’t the perfect formulas for knowing the impact residential solar can have on your home. 

How Google’s Solar Panel Calculator Works

Google’s sunroof program launched in 2015. This program has been a tool that allows people to see how affordable solar is for their home, and it’s made reasonably accessible via the search engine results pages. 

Aerial Solar Imagery

Google uses their technology from Google Maps as a base for their sunroof program. This program paired with their shading tech allows people to get an idea of what solar could save them.  

Shading Tech

Google’s shading tech allows people to see if their home is a good candidate for solar. If you don’t have good sun exposure, you won’t get as much power from the solar power infused sun.

This program shows you what your home’s sun exposure is. Google uses a color gradient to represent areas of your home that see more sun than others, one of the numerous features that makes it a good place to start investigating solar. 

Basic Solar Savings

Google’s solar cost calculations are for a leased panel system for the next 20 years. These calculations are then compared to 20 years of billing from the power company in your area based off of a 2.2 percent yearly rate increase. Google’s estimated savings come from these calculations, local incentives, and sun exposure.

Possible Issues with the Solar Panel Calculator

As stated above, this is a great tool for those that have peaked interest. If ,however, you want to know for sure if solar is a viable option for your home, you will need to talk to a professional.

Google Shading Tools Compared to Solar Panel Mapping

Designing a solar panel system requires tools that Google’s calculator doesn’t use. This makes Google’s savings calculations less accurate than Go Solar Group’s Utah solar savings calculator.

If your home doesn’t have good sun exposure, Google will tell you that your home isn’t a good candidate for solar. What you aren’t told is a good amount of un-shaded property could be a good option for installing a ground mount. This is something their calculator fails to account for. 

Meant to Educate the Public, Not Guide You to the Best Solar Installer

When Google first launched the sunroof program its was to inform people that investing in solar is a good financial decision. As time went on they decided to use it to generate leads for paying solar companies. The tool was then changed back to an introductory tool in 2017.

Although Google’s map is better now that they have stepped away from lead generation, it is up to you to decide if solar panels a good fit for your energy needs.      

A Good Place to Start, Not a Good Cost Estimator  

Google’s sunroof program is a great place for you to start. Their program will give you a good idea of whether your trees shade your roof too much. If you want an accurate estimate of how much solar will cost and how much you will save, you will need to aquire a solar quote.

One Option Given Many Available

The Google sunroof program only offers solar savings based on one solar option. The price for solar, however, depends on the quality of the products used. Therefore, Google can’t give you an exact measurement based on the product its offering, because it doesn’t sell solar panels. 

If you would like to pay in cash for your system, most companies will give you a discount. There is also a big difference between the price you would pay for a system that you are leasing compared to a system that you own. It is important to note that the rate of your loan and its length will also change how much you are saving as well.

Why Cost of Power Is Different than the Power Used

Google and many other solar savings calculators use how much you are paying for your electric bill each month as a gauge of how much solar would cost. The problem, however, is that solar system sizing is actually determined by how much energy you use, not how much you are currently paying each month.

Yes, there is a correlation between the two and you can get a good rough estimate. The problem is that each power company has a different rate structure.

Why Google Sheds Light on Local Solar Installers

It should be noted that using Google’s solar savings calculator is not a bad thing. It is a great place to start.

Google also links to local installers, you are able to do further research from there. We recommend looking at multiple solar companies to see which is going to be the best option for you. If you would like a rough idea of what your savings could be with Go Solar Group, we have our own solar savings calculators for homes in Utah;  Reno, Nevada; and San Antonio, Texas.


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