PhotoWith solar installations getting less expensive and battery storage more efficient, Google and Vivent Solar have rolled out a tool to aid homeowners who want to install solar arrays on their home.

The tool, called Project Sunroof, uses the same high-resolution aerial mapping employed by Google Earth to help calculate a roof's solar energy potential. That information is key to knowing how efficient a solar array will be and whether it would be worth the investment.

Greg Butterfield, CEO of Vivint Solar, which is partnering with Google on the project, says having the information will make solar energy more accessible for more homeowners.

The new online tool is being tested in the San Francisco Bay area, Fresno, and the greater Boston area. The program will tell the homeowner how much sunlight hits their rooftop throughout the year while factoring in roof orientation, shade from trees and nearby buildings, and local weather patterns.

The tool also allows a homeowner to enter his or her electric bill data for more customized results.

“Together with Google, we're able to let customers all over the country know that solar power is a lot simpler and more affordable than they might have thought," said Dwain Kinghorn, Chief Strategy and Innovations Officer at Vivint Solar.

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