By Roy L Hales
Sungevity was the first solar company to use remote satellite design (RSD) technology through the internet. They could produce quotes in 24 hours. Their most recent version does this in seconds. Sungevity’s Instant iQuote lets customers see solar panels on their home.
“We have taken our years of experience of people using our RSD tool to design hundreds of thousands of systems and using LIDAR data … and a lot of very specific software and technology, we can basically now design systems at city scale, state scale and potentially country scale,” said Steve Atherton, Sungevity’s Chief Technical Officer.
The pilot project has focused on the area serviced by Lowe’s stores in the Bay area and Greater San Diego. This is being extended to California and Sungevity is adding New York, Delaware and Massachusetts.
Customers from those areas type in their address, so that the computer can gather all the relevant data. They can choose from dozens of predesigned systems.
“Homeowners can instantly view a 3D model showing the most optimal solar designs for their home based on roof pitch, sun angle and other key variables,” said John Ordona, vice president of communications at Sungevity.
“From that we can derive estimated costs, estimated savings, estimated offset,” Atherton added.
It also lets customers see how solar panels will look like on their roof and make the choices that are important to them.
“As long as we predesign these systems, the results are instant,” Atherton said. “You can walk into a Lowe’s store, you can type in your address on this fancy iPad ap that we built and literally, within one to two seconds, you will be presented with a number of designs of solar panels sitting on your roof.”
“It’s all about providing customer choice and enhancing their experience,” said Ordona.
He emphasized Sungevity’s existing partnerships with Lowe’s, the Sierra Club and the European utility E.ON.
“This technology that Steve and his team developed can be deployed within all these partnerships,” Ordona said.
“The pilot is exceeding expectations,” Atherton added, “Lowe’s is loving it because of the extra attention customers are giving to solar in their stores. We’re loving it because the customer experience is so much better.”
This invariably led to the question of Instant iQuote’s accuracy.
“Software is not infallible, but the anecdotal evidence we have is that it is pretty darn accurate,” Atherton said. “Most of the inaccuracies come from using imagery that is slightly out of date.”
Homeowners can change the layout of their roof by adding an addition.
They can increase the amount sunshine by cutting down trees.
These are the kind of errors that will disappear as the availability of up to date satellite imagery improves.
Instant iQuote is one of the keys that can help the US unlock its solar potential.
While the residential application is important, I’m even more interested in its usage on a large scale.
Sungevity’s partnership with E.ON is a union in which their software can be utilized by one of Europe’s leading utilities. E.ON solar also promotes battery storage and tells its German customers “You should be your own electricity producer.” This partnership is pregnant with possibilities.
The audio of this interview is one of the upcoming programs on the ECOreport, which is broadcast on Cortes community radio, and will also be available @ http://www.theecoreport.com/category/media-2/radio/
You can learn more about Sungevity by visiting their website www.sungevity.com/