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Google’s Project Sunroof will peer pressure you to get solar panels

Google’s Project Sunroof will peer pressure you to get solar panels

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Check if you're the only one on the block without solar panels

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You can now check if your neighbors have installed solar panels on their rooftops, thanks to a new feature in Google’s Project Sunroof. The free online tool has been around for a couple years, allowing users to check whether installing solar panels could cut their energy bill. Now, if you zoom in on the satellite map, a red dot will indicate homes and buildings that have solar panels.

Project Sunroof launched in 2015, even expanding outside the US earlier this year. The tool tells you how much sunlight hits your rooftop, how much you could save by installing solar panels, and gives you information on local panel providers to do the installation. The new feature now tells you whether your neighbors are already harnessing the power of the Sun.

The red dots show existing solar panel installations.
The red dots show existing solar panel installations.
Image: Google

The information is gathered by a machine learning algorithm that’s trained to recognize solar panels from satellite images. For now, the information is available on 60 million buildings in the US, but Google wants to add 40 million buildings in the next few years, according to The Atlantic.

The goal of the new feature is to encourage more people to take the plunge. Studies have shown that people are more likely to install solar panels if their neighbors have done so, especially if the panels are visible from the street. That information is now just one click away.