Most of us like the idea of saving money on electricity by using solar energy, but few of us realize just how easy it is to find out if solar energy is a good idea at our particular homes. Even though we don’t have any of the equipment an installer would use to find out the energy savings, most of us have smart phones in our pockets fully equipped to do the job.
Most of these apps rely on GPS, compasses and tiltometers. They don’t measure the actual sunlight available. For this reason, you should consider the weather conditions where you live when making your calculations. You’ll have to climb up on the roof with your phone and possibly a measuring tape to figure out the available area for solar panels. Working on the roof can be dangerous, so only use one of these apps if you are physically fit enough to climb up on the roof. If you fall from the roof, your phone may not fall within your reach once you hit the bottom, so have someone available to make a phone call in case of emergency. In addition, follow ladder safety guidelines to avoid injury.
Now that you’re properly prepared for the job, let’s move on to the apps that can help you figure out energy output, play around with the optimal angles of your panels and determine your cost savings. Not every app does all of these things, but these are the main functions available.
iOS Apps for Solar Panel Planning
Solarchecker – This iPhone app establishes solar radiation at your position and does the math to figure out what your financial return would be if you install solar panels. You’ll need to energy the square footage of space available for panels. It determines the potential energy output as well, giving you a figure in kWh/kWp/a. You can even figure in financing and maintenance costs for the system to see just how much you could save.
Photovoltaic – There’s little to say about this app that would set it apart from Solarchecker. Knowing we all have personal preferences when it comes to easy-of-use, it seemed wise to include another app that does the same thing as an alternative.
PV Test – Just the name says, PV Test helps you test the photo voltaic output available in your area. With a free basic version, you can get more detailed data by subscription plan. The pro version figures in weather data and automatically gathers geographical data.
Android Apps for Solar Panel Planning
Onyx Solar – Use this app like other solar apps to figure the output of energy from a given installation. You can save your results, making it easy to tinker with different installing ideas and share your plans with others for their input.
PV Solar Calculator – lets you to figure out how much area you need for a given output or how much output you can expect from the area you have available. The app figures in the weather, assuming it’s bad 40 percent of the time. You can play around with this number based on weather information for your area. Wunderground is probably the best place to find that information.
PV Plant – This Android app offers a few simple functions, but it’s only worthwhile if you have a light sensor on your phone. It will tell you the sun’s illumination value in Lux, the amount of electricity you should expect to produce, how much money you’ll save and the value of carbon emissions savings.