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?
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.