Are Solar Energy Calculators Accurate? Posted on 5 Jan 10:17
Solar energy calculators should take the guesswork out of planning a DIY solar photovoltaic system, but do they really?
By factoring in certain data, these tools provide customers with a recommended system size to suit their energy needs, and in many cases, a basic cost estimate. But are these calculators accurate? Can you really rely on these tools to plan your solar panel system?
The answer is yes — but only if you use the right ones.
Problems with Some Solar Energy Calculators
Most calculators ask for the same basic information, including your location, average electrical usage and what percentage of your home’s power you would like the photovoltaic panels to provide.
But while most of these online tools appear to look the same, the results they offer may not be so similar. Try a few different calculators, and you’re likely to end up with as many different system size estimates.
Why is this?
Some solar energy calculators simply don’t consider enough information, which can skew the results. Others are not up to date or do not integrate the latest solar industry regulations and incentives in their cost calculations. And some solar calculators use inaccurate or incomplete industry pricing data.
Trying Google’s Project Sunroof Calculator
One of the best calculators for photovoltaic systems is Google’s Project Sunroof. This solar energy calculator uses Google’s patented technology and comprehensive mapping data to evaluate homes for photovoltaic panel installation.
After inputting your address, this tool provides a comprehensive roof analysis that factors in the sun’s position throughout the year as well as shading from trees, structures and other obstructions. Project Sunroof uses Google Maps and several other database resources in performing its calculations, and is considered by many industry experts to be a reliable source for photovoltaic system estimates.
Unfortunately, this calculator is available only in limited markets right how, but the project is growing to cover more of the United States.
Why the Solar GOODs Calculator Works
The solar energy calculator at Solar GOODs is another trustworthy and accurate tool for determining the size and cost of your do-it-yourself photovoltaic system. Unlike many online calculators, our system calculator uses data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a division of the U.S. Department of Energy.
In determining a recommended system size, our calculator uses the information from NREL’s PVWatts site, including roof pitch, azimuth, DC-to-AC conversion efficiency and system losses.
For added support, our experts are available for one-on-one telephone consultations to discuss the size and configuration of your DIY solar panels, or to answer other questions you may have about the calculator.
Are you ready to get an accurate estimate for a photovoltaic system for your home or business? Try out our calculator today, so you can get started on your own solar energy system.