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ecoWeb Friday

Every Thursday, give or take, I put up a new website that I think is fun, informative, or otherwise useful. It has to have something to do with ecology, but that’s my only rule. Sometimes it’s conservation, sometimes green building, sometimes eco-clothing. It’s a wide open world. This weeks pick:

Roof RayRoof RayRoof Ray, What’s Your Solar Potential is a super easy and quick way to do one simple thing: Calculate how much energy you can produce (and money you can save) by puting solar panels on your roof.

Here’s how it works…

  • Type your address (or potential address) into the form.
  • A Google Map satellite image of your house will pop up. Most of the country is covered in pretty good (sometimes scary) detail.
  • Draw a solar array on your roof, by simply clicking the 4 corners of the roof in your satellite image.
  • Drag the red line to match your roof pitch (which way the roof slopes).
  • Click Performance.

What do you get next? You’ll get a graph of how much electricity your solar array can generate, month by month. It uses all sorts of voodoo math, taking into account seasons, compass direction, rotation of the earth, and historical weather patterns. I typed in my address here at Lounge Central in Brooklyn, and if my building put up solar panels, we could generate an average of 2,600 kWh a month. That’s enough to run over 50 refrigerators!

But wait, there’s more. Click Financial Analysis, and you’ll get all sorts of numbers. These include ROI (Return on Investment) numbers, the break-even point (when your savings have paid for the install), tax credits, state rebates, and a generic cost of the solar panels.

To a lot of people, solar seems so expensive to install and get running. It is very expensive. With tools like this available to everyone, we can start to research on our own, and make more intelligent decisions. If your break-even point is 4 or 5 years from now, it may be worth it. If you’re a business, maybe a giant solar array on the roof of the warehouse has a break-even point of 20 years. Every situation is different, so just do the math, or let Roof Ray do it for you.

Check it out. Draw your solar array, and let me know how much energy and money you can save.

Aug 21, 2008 GreenBuildSolar
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