What is a solar estimator?
A solar estimator, also called solar calculator, is a formula that estimates the amount of money you can save when switching to solar over a specific period of time. It is mostly used to predict the time it will take your solar panels to pay for themselves (when the amount of money saved equals the price of the system).
How does a solar estimator work?
Most solar estimators will ask for your address and location in order to analyze your roof shape and local weather patterns, how many solar panels and/or Kw is produced, and the current electrical bill you pay monthly in order to estimate the amount you will be saving when switching to solar. Many websites request additional information, whether it is more questions about the property and surface that will be used that homeowners can answer best, or important details about the solar system and panels that you are calculating that a solar professional can provide best. Solar estimators or calculators that request more detailed information tend to give more accurate results. That said, these are just estimates, the actual savings will depend on rooftop characteristics and hardware specifics.
5 best solar estimators & savings calculators
Here are our 5 favorite solar calculators that let you come up with savings estimates based on your or your clients’ house’s solar potential. Armed with these estimates, you will be able to make a more data-driven decision if you’re a customer looking for solar, and a more transparent, quantitative pitch if you’re a solar sales person. In this quick article you’ll find out about Google Project Sunroof, PV Watts, Energysage, Solar.com, Sunpower.
1. Google Project Sunroof (<1 min to estimate)
This one does shade and lighting modelling using Google Maps data. All you have to do is enter your address, and voila! It lets you fine-tune your calculation based on variables like your solar bill. Perfect for quick and easy estimates. Shows possible financing options and key figures.
2. PV Watts (<1 min to estimate)
This website is catered more towards solar designers / engineers that know the exact system specs as well as the retail electricity rate. By the type of information it requests to estimate, the result would be very accurate compared to other solar calculators. While it's a little bit more raw and doesn’t have an address autocomplete, it offers a tool to draw the system you are calculating for, using a satellite view of your property.
3. EnergySage (<1 min to estimate)
EnergySage’s calculator uses Google Project Sunroof under the hood (or should we say roof 😃), however, it also factors rebates and government incentives into the calculation. This one also provides some handy breakeven charts for the different financing options. Excellent for use in solar proposals and/or presentations to clients. Energysage also let’s you compare solar quotes right there and then.
4. Solar.com (3 min to estimate, must sign in with email)
Solar.com has everything to know about solar. The website offers all the tools for people who are looking to go solar. It offers a more accurate estimate as well as it requests more detailed information about the property, such as roof type. Despite its customizability, solar.com requires you to sign in, in order to access your results.
5. Sunpower (3 min to estimate, must give personal info)
This one is particularly good for EV owners, since it factors your EV make and model into the estimation. However, just like solar.com, it requires your contact information (name, email, phone number) and delivers the results via email.
Bottom line, these are some of the tools that we use all the time at Coperniq. If you’re looking for a quick and dirty estimate with no gating or upselling along the way, check out Google Project Sunroof or Energysage, for more in-depth calculations with more variables, give the other ones a try!
Most of these tools will let you save the estimate as a PDF, Coperniq users can store files, as well as any other valuable project information inside the Databank — a secure single source of truth for all project-related data. To discover more about the Databank and other awesome solutions, check out Coperniq’s features or book a quick demo with the founders!