Solar Training

Project Sunroof a Handy Resource for Solar Installers

Learn how to make smart solar energy decisions by using the free Project Sunroof tool from Google.

Project Sunroof a Handy Resource for Solar Installers

The Internet has been abuzz this month about Google’s Project Sunroof product, which is a free online tool that aims to make it easier for people to obtain and use home solar panels. The product itself has been available since 2015 and has been used to inform users how much sun hits their roof and how much solar panels would save them in energy-related expenses per month if they pursued the option.

Now, Project Sunroof will be equipped with the functionality to show users which of their neighbors have taken the plunge.

As The Atlantic writes, “One of the best predictors of whether people install solar panels on their house isn’t their age, their race, their level of income, or their political affiliation. It’s whether their neighbors did it first.”

When on the map view, Project Sunroof will show a red dot over any home or structure that appears to have rooftop solar.

Google's Project Sunroof tool

The tool currently provides data for 60 million buildings across the United States, so there’s a high probability that homeowners nationwide will find value in the new “peer pressure” functionality. Google aims to analyze the remaining 40 million buildings in the next few years. If anyone can do it in a timely manner, it’s Google – and its machine-learning algorithm that recognizes the common appearance of rooftop solar panels.

How Solar Installers Can Use Project Sunroof

Project Sunroof is primarily a tool for homeowners, but there must be some applications for residential solar companies.

1. Get listed as a local solar installation company within Project Sunroof.

In addition to estimating how much solar energy falls on a roof or how much solar panels will reduce someone’s electricity bills, Project Sunroof also provides estimates from local installation firms. As a solar company, you should be included in your community’s listing of providers! To use Project Sunroof as an opportunity to reach potential solar customers, email [email protected].

2. Provide excellent customer service.

Naturally, you should be providing excellent customer service always. This leads to word-of-mouth referrals. Whether a potential solar customer sees a neighbor’s solar panels from the street or using the Project Sunroof tool, he or she will likely ask their neighbor how things are working out with the new technology…

  • Are your energy bills really lower?
  • Was the installation process quick and easy?
  • What about maintenance?
  • Which company installed your solar panels?
  • Were they affordable?
  • Were they easy to work with?
  • Are you happy with this decision?

People want to know from trusted associates whether solar is a smart, viable, and cost-effective choice. It’s candid conversations like these that a potential solar customer may finally choose solar energy for their home…and which company will do it, so always make sure that you’re positioning your solar installation company as the best choice for your geographic market.

3. Include Project Sunroof in your advertising.

Once your company has been selected as a solar provider partner with Project Sunroof, you should leverage that information in your marketing materials – provided that it’s not against any rules with Project Sunroof.

Project Sunroof partners example

The more people who know about Project Sunroof, the better. People want to feel like they are part of the “in group,” and Project Sunroof provides an opportunity to see where you stack up in your community. This tool could very well lead to more people wanting to add solar panels to their homes – either through the peer pressure of fitting in or from the candid conversations with trusted friends.

The only way that people will know about Project Sunroof is if you tell them! It’s a free online tool, so there’s no barrier to entry. In fact, “free” and “online” may offer the fastest foot-in-the-door to learning about solar energy – that language sets a homeowner on the right path to you and your company’s services!

If you include Project Sunroof in your advertising, people will become aware of it and will probably check it out and maybe have a candid conversation with a neighbor and maybe choose solar for themselves. It’s a cycle.

Some ways to leverage Project Sunroof in your marketing efforts include:

  • Using a short call-out phrase like “Find us on Project Sunroof” in your email signature, business card, company social media profiles, email blasts, radio & newspaper ads, etc.
  • Encouraging existing clients to tell their neighbors about Project Sunroof
  • Offering a free consultation with prospective clients on how to use Project Sunroof
  • Sharing an informational video that demonstrates how a homeowner can use the tool

Sometimes you have to go beyond just advertising your company/services and really sell a prospective customer on the concept or driving force behind your service. If they’re sold on the fact that solar panels will save them money and that they need to add solar panels to fit in in their community, then that’s half the battle! From there, your company needs to be seen and trusted. Project Sunroof is simply one tool that can help achieve those goals.

If you don’t yet have a solar installation company and want to move in this direction, visit our Getting Started With Solar series to learn about the job outlook for solar contractors and how you can add solar to your business.

Images courtesy of The Atlantic and

About Lesley Baulding

Lesley has been passionately advocating for and working with green building and renewable energy since 2009. She has experience with LEED certification, home energy auditing, blower door testing, solar energy, and more. She holds many certifications, including LEED Green Associate and NABCEP Certification. Her work has won numerous awards over the past decade.