Lennie Moreno’s Draw My Roof aims to revolutionize how consumers deal with solar power systems. The CEO of the emerging solar software company Sofdesk and a former solar installer believes that empowering customers is key to the widespread adoption of solar technology.
“The more power we give to the end user, the faster we can apply their feedback to allow the industry to keep getting better,” says Moreno. “There is no question that offering a tool like this one to homeowners to easily design their own solar system is a leap in the right direction for the solar industry. We have to do what’s right, and what’s right is not always what makes more profit.”
The free tool was launched online last week, allowing homeowners across the U.S. to draw their own solar roofs. Customers can design their own domestic solar installation according to the measurements and shape of their roof. The tool uses Google Maps to create a basic layout of the roof, helping potential customers imagine what their houses will look like with solar panels installed while providing them with options to increase and decrease the number and size of their solar panels. While the portal automatically recognizes roof slope to determine the optimal panel layout, it also allows customers to identify optimum locations to install an array, and allows them to delete or move panels if there are obstructions – such as large trees, for example.
Draw My Roof also provides customers with price estimates of how much their design will cost using an aggregated pricing average based on thousands of local quotes created for turnkey solutions. The platform also points out that 30% of the estimated price includes the federal Investment Tax Credit. After customers have gone through all the steps and digested all the information, they should be able to decide if they want to go ahead and make the purchase.
The idea behind Draw My Roof is hardly new – Google’s Project Sunroof has been up and running since August 2015. Project Sunroof makes the adoption of solar roofs more accessible to customers by helping them assess the number of panels they need, calculating savings estimates, and comparing finance options. Similarly, with the help of Google Maps, Project Sunroof provides a set of tools to facilitate the purchase and installation of solar panels. Project Sunroof also calculates shadows from nearby structures and trees, bearing in mind the history of weather patterns. Just like Draw My Roof, Project Sunroof calculates how much money a user can expect to save yearly by making use of solar power.
What sets Draw My Roof apart is that Google’s platform provides a list of local solar power retailers capable of installing solar panels where the customer is located. According to Moreno, however, Draw My Roof is 30 to 40 times more accurate than Project Sunroof – which bases its results on the rough square footage of the entire roof – because of Sofdesk’s technology and customer input.