Google has entered the solar market with it’s Project Sunroof, and now we often get asked some variation of the same question: “What’s the difference between EnergySage and Google’s solar map?”
This type of question isn’t all that surprising. While EnergySage’s online Solar Marketplace has been helping people research and comparison-shop for solar since early 2013, it wasn’t until Google Solar made a splash in late 2015 that most media outlets really started to sit up and take notice. And many of these Project Sunroof-focused reporters came to the same conclusion we did several years before: the Internet can play a (really) large role in helping spread solar adoption by making the buying and selling process more efficient for all parties involved. In fact, this belief is why the U.S. Department of Energy awarded EnergySage with our first of two SunShot Awards in June 2012.
At EnergySage, we believe that residential solar actually needs more Internet technology platforms like ours to help grow the industry in a healthy way. Solar-interested homeowners deserve more companies that help explain otherwise-complicated subjects, transparently provide information on prices and quality, and seamlessly bring together buyers and sellers in an easy-to-use website. Unfortunately, Google Project Sunroof just doesn’t check all of these ‘must have’ boxes. While there are a few similarities between their tool and our platform, there are substantial differences as well.
Top similarities to Google’s solar project
Both websites offer free solar calculators to help homeowners understand their solar economics.
The decision to go solar is increasingly an economic one: how much can a solar panel installation reduce your electricity bill? And when will you break even on your investment? Solar calculators are a great (and free) way to find out. Both EnergySage and Google Solar’s Project Sunroof use a combination of satellite imagery, user-provided data, and proprietary formulas to help homeowners understand the costs and benefits of solar adoption. A key difference, however, is that EnergySage’s calculator provides cost estimates based on real-time prices from its Marketplace data.
Both websites help solar installers find and connect with interested homeowners.
The truth is that it’s hard and expensive for most solar companies to find enough homeowners interested in installing solar. While customer referrals are usually a solar installer’s preferred way to find new business, they’re also too unpredictable to rely on. Knocking on doors and cold calling around dinnertime – a solar industry norm – is increasingly ineffective today, and turns more homeowners into skeptics than customers. The result: new Internet-based solutions like EnergySage and Project Sunroof offer solar installation companies much more efficient, online ways to locate solar-interested homeowners.
Google Project Sunroof – EnergySage Comparison Table
|Free Solar Calculator||Yes||Yes|
|Access to current solar prices and economics||Yes||No|
|Top 5 highest-paying solar installers are recommended to customers||No||Yes|
|Comprehensive solar informational content, including profiles, ratings and reviews of hundreds of solar installers, manufacturers and lenders||Yes||No|
|Standardized quotes from pre-screened solar installers||Yes||No|
|Competing quotes displayed online; key metrics calculated for consumers to facilitate easy, apples-to-apples comparison||Yes||No|
|Live decision-support from solar advisors||Yes||No|
|Number of states with active solar installers||32||6|
|Number of pre-screened solar installers||Over 350||Does not pre-screen installers|
Top differences from Google’s sun roof solar map
EnergySage runs an online marketplace where solar installers compete for a homeowner’s business.
The single most important distinction between EnergySage and Google Solar’s Project Sunroof is that EnergySage runs an online marketplace where multiple, pre-screened solar companies compete for the business of the homeowner. This sort of free and fair competition results in win-win outcomes: homeowners access installation prices 20% below industry norms, and installers access homeowners who are 5X to 10X more likely to go solar. Quotes are submitted on the Marketplace, standardized, and then presented in a format that’s easy for homeowners to compare. Users can easily evaluate the quality of solar installation company, quality of equipment offered by each installer, and understand the costs and benefits of each financing option. EnergySage empowers people to make informed solar purchase decisions, with confidence.
Google Project Sunroof doesn’t run an online marketplace, and doesn’t pre-screen its solar installers, either. Instead, the site simply sells people’s contact information to the highest-paying solar companies.
EnergySage lets solar companies of all sizes and marketing capabilities compete on an equal footing.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a challenge for solar installers to find solar-interested homeowners. This challenge is even more acute for small solar businesses with limited marketing budgets. On Project Sunroof, smaller businesses are at a disadvantage because they have to bid for advertising space against some of the country’s largest installers. Because the big companies can drive up the price, most of the country’s small and mid-sized solar installers don’t actually use Project Sunroof. On EnergySage, all sizes of solar installers pay the exact same (low) price – no matter what.
EnergySage provides homeowners with some of the most comprehensive, objective information about solar.
While a solar calculator is a useful way to help homeowners understand solar, it’s insufficient by itself. Unfortunately, this tool is all that Google Solar’s Project Sunroof offers to today’s homeowner. On EnergySage, the solar calculator is just one tool in a very large toolbox. Consumers have access to an unparalleled array of comprehensive, objective solar information that includes:
- Hundreds of articles about solar hardware, financing, and more
- Directory and detailed profiles of thousands of solar installers, equipment manufacturers, lenders
- Ratings and reviews of hundreds of solar installers & solar loan providers
- Hundreds of case studies from people who have installed solar across the U.S.
- An image gallery of photographs of solar installations
- Comprehensive collection of solar related videos and presentations
- An online Q&A discussion forum
This sort of difference makes sense – EnergySage is a company that’s entirely committed to helping consumers learn about solar without any sales pressure, in a convenient online format, so that they can go solar with confidence. On the other hand, the version of Project Sunroof available today is just another way for Google to increase its advertising revenue via solar.
EnergySage is a trusted brand that was developed with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy, and is recommended by some of the country’s leading organizations, including state and local governments, utilities, non-profits, and private businesses.
Going solar is a big decision for homeowners, and it’s important they work with a company they can trust. While Google’s search engine is an accepted part of today’s digital ecosystem, many Americans are increasingly skeptical of providing the Internet technology giant with more and more of their personal information. With EnergySage, homeowners can rest assured that they’re working with a small company trusted by today’s solar industry leaders – including the U.S. Department of Energy, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), National Grid, Connecticut Green Bank, and many more.