Design Your Own Rooftop Solar Panels

How much would it cost to get you into solar power? You don’t have to wait for an estimate anymore. A new website lets you see exactly how much a system would cost.

When solar leasing company Sungevity quotes you a price for rooftop solar panels, it takes into account information from a system that uses aerial photography and satellite images to generate a rendering of a solar photovoltaic system, installation costs, and potential savings.


But that’s a proprietary system; there’s no simple way for homeowners to design their own solar panels online or figure out their cost. If there was an easy way to visualize panels on your roof, wouldn’t you start thinking just a little bit more about putting real panels on there?

The Playboy Mansion could save $4,904 each year with solar panels.

SOLarchitect, a New Orleans startup, just scored $50,000 during a New Orleans Entrepreneur Week competition for its product: a web application that lets users put virtual solar panels on their homes and automatically calculate energy savings and tax credits.

SOLarchitect theoretically makes money at the end of the virtual panel process, when users are offered three bids from local contractors to install the solar system. If one of the bids is accepted, SOLarchitect takes a cut.

The startup was part of the 2012 IDEAxcelerator, a New Orleans-based accelerator for local startups that helped participants with business plans and mentoring for six months. Other participants included a contaminated water treatment system and an IKEA design, delivery, and furniture-building service.

As we mentioned in a recent post, New Orleans has a burgeoning sustainable startup scene that was spurred at least partially by the environmental havoc that the city has endured in the past decade.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.