April 24, 2008

Should Your Home Go Solar?

solar-house-front-1.jpg When I first purchased solar panels 15 years ago, there was very little help for homeowners beyond other homeowners who had already gone solar. Solar panels were mostly the realm of do-it-yourselfers. I remember taking a protractor with a weighted string to our building site and trying to figure out our solar window from charts. Basically, solar success was by trial and error, but those days are over now. If you live in California, two new websites are offering services for homeowners wanting to explore their solar options.
Renewzle offers homeowners a simple way to:
  • Learn the basics
  • Explore your options
  • Shop for a system
Simply enter your zip code, select your region and utility company, then submit your average monthly utility bill. Renewzle will give you a "Solar Overview" that includes your recommended system, monthly cost, solar potential (including savings), average monthly emissions, etc. You can make adjustments based on your energy needs and then request quotes from multiple retailers/installers.
Sungevity asks users to first enter their home address. Next, a virtual earth map pops up of your neighborhood, and you find your rooftop. Sungevity calculates your roof's dimensions, including the pitch and azimuth, and then selects appropriately sized solar arrays. You are then given an image of your house with panels installed, as well as a computation of your investment return. If you decide to purchase, the panels are shipped directly to you, and an installation crew is dispatched.

Since I live in a very remote region of Northern California without a real physical address, I could not get Sungevity's map to find my house. The virtual map is very cool, but it was much easier to simply enter my zip code on Renewzle. I did try Sungevity on a friend's house in Arcata, only to find out they are only serving the San Francisco Bay Area currently after I selected her roof. It appears Renewzle gives you access to many different suppliers and installers for quotes, whereas Sungevity provides only one option for purchasing.  If I was a homeowner in California interested in solar energy, I would probably explore both sites to determine my options.

Read More in: Alternative Energy | Green Homes

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Posted by Jennifer Lance at April 24, 2008 5:25 AM

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