Why this new AI powered online solar panel calculator is a leap forward?
Written by Chris Meehan
Updated April 01, 2020
6 minutes read
Categories: Solar 101, Solar financing, Solar incentives, Solar panels
In December 2019, after approximately 2 years of development, we released the first AI-powered consumer solar panel estimator in the world on this website.
It is available above for you to use just by entering your address and how much you spent on power last month.
The Solar-Estimate.org solar panel calculator has been online for around 10 years. During this time it has helped literally millions of American homeowners get an online estimate of how solar would work on their homes before they spoke to solar companies.
It also connected almost 800,000 people with local solar companies who each offer a bid for the home to supplement the online estimate generated by the calculator.
It has always had a database of solar irradiation from each weather station in the US, a database of the electric rates charged by each utility and a regularly updated database of current local solar prices in each city. It has used these to generate cost and savings estimates for many years but now it has gone to the next level.
Now it uses machine-learned artificial intelligence to also scan your roof from an aerial image, segment your roof into its different planes and then place panels on your roof in the correct spot until there are enough panels to cover 100% of your electric usage.
It now provides a complete and accurate solar design from just two pieces of information (address and power spend) and with no human intervention.
No other solar panel calculator available for free use by consumers online can do this. There are not even any solar design software packages for professional solar designers that can do this.
This is a true first for the industry.
Indeed it is the first time that machine learning has been used widely on the internet in any major home improvement industry website of any type.
What can you find out from our solar panel calculator?
From entering just your address and the amount you spent on electricity last month you can find out:
- How many solar panels you need to power your home;
- Where the solar panels should go on your roof;
- How the direction and tilt of your roof will affect production;
- Whether your roof can fit enough solar panels to cover your entire electric usage;
- The size system you need in peak DC kW to cover the kWh of electricity you use each year;
- The likely cost of the system based on the average local solar system prices;
- Local, state and federal rebates, tax credits and incentives;
- How much a monthly loan payment would be if you get a loan on the system;
- How much the system will save you over the life of the system;
- Your payback period for your solar system;
- The amount that Zillow estimates that solar panel installation will add to the capital value of your home;
- You can get local solar companies to view your roof online and then text or email you an exact cost and system design taking into account local roof setback rules and fire code regulations that control where you can place panels on your roof
What is the difference between the solar-estimate.org solar estimator and other online solar calculators?
Most of the time you see a button on a website saying "solar calculator" it is simply click bait to try and get you to enter your details.
Most of these websites don't even do any calculations and show you no results online.
Some do basic calculations but just use the statewide averages for things like solar irradiation, utility electric prices and other important factors that can vary a lot between regions in a state and can significantly change the economics of going solar for a particular home.