Solar energy panels are an important investment for planet earth, but also for residential homeowners that want to cash in on attractive feed-in tariffs. Homeowners that invest in solar energy can feed the power they generate back to the energy grid and in time make money after their initial investment in panels is paid off.
Most homeowners in the United States won’t know their solar energy-producing potential unless they hire a contractor to come and survey the roof, or run a DIY solar energy potential calculator found online. And not all homes are suited for solar panels.
Maybe your roof faces north, is blocked by tree cover or has too many complicated angles to justify solar panels? In these scenarios an investment wouldn’t pay off to the planet or your pocketbook. But how would you know?
An Israeli company called SolView has a solution to the problem.
Typically what happens today is that large solar energy integrators will send out canvassers hoping to attract homeowners to buy into solar energy opportunities.
According to industry estimates a company can spend $4000 for each new customer acquisition –– money that can be saved if they used automated rooftop scanning technology, according to SolView founder and CEO Ofer Sadka.
With 15 years in image processing and software development experience behind him Sadka’s company SolView makes use of publicly available images like from Google Earth and applies a special algorithm developed to identify regions, cities, towns, neighbourhoods and even zooms in on individual homes that would benefit from solar energy panels.
Of course one could put solar panels anywhere, but whether or not the investment is worth the installation is what SolView is helping companies understand.
I scanned my parent’s house in Ontario, Canada and saw that solar panels would never work for them. They have way too many trees shielding the roof.
SolView, in business since 2013, has raised about one million dollars from VCs like Capital Nature to grow the business in the United States, and it currently has business with a few publicly traded solar energy companies there. Solview is raising $2.5 million series A round for growth and expansion.
Knowing on which homes the sun shines brighter
“The key issue of SolView is our ability to automatically identify the solar potential of rooftops,” Sadka tells Green Prophet. “Some companies are able to do a manual process and provide somewhat of a similar output. Our key benefits are of automaton which means we can do it on a massive scale.
“Instead of targeting a specific prospect, we can scan or ‘canvas’ entire areas. Based on that initial canvasing a company can change their marketing processes to target the right prospects and then not rely on specific market campaigns to pan out.”
SolView’s business is in the US residential market and they work on a B2B model with installation companies.
Until now companies had to work with human canvassers who would walk up and down the street and knock on doors, even on the doors of homes with roofs that are non-viable for solar panels. An appointment would be scheduled, and then the process which is slow and cumbersome starts.
“We can know before the first canvasser knocks on the door whether the home is viable for solar panels. We can ‘see’ physical constraints such as a roof divided into different facets, or if it’s facing the south, which is good in the northern hemisphere. Are there excessive amounts of shading or a roof that is built with too many planes?” Sadka says.
For now it’s hard to know a golden number of what roofs work best for optimizing investment. That is up to the company selling the panels, Sadka explains.
He says there is a booming solar energy market in the US for residential use. He is also getting requests from the UK, Brazil, India and China.
“All the big companies are looking for sales and a much much shorter and cheaper customer acquisition process.”
The payment process? For now per rooftop. The company has since scanned hundreds and thousands and millions of rooftops for every customer. SolView sells by regions and which areas should be targeted by sales personnel.
If this means faster sales of solar panels, and higher customer acquisition at a lower price then I’d like to speak on behalf of the planet, if you don’t mind, and say that this is an excellent idea.
More on Solview here