Can a social network, crowdsourced performance data, and collaborative analysis of home solar power systems lead to smarter solar power, and more of it?
If the direction that Generaytor is heading is any indication, then the future of wiser solar will come, at least in part, through connecting people, data, and insights from real-world solar homes, into a virtual community of solar homeowners.
The increasing adoption of solar power for homes and businesses is being driven by a number of factors, including the cost of the solar panels themselves (which keeps dropping), energy prices (which keep rising), solar incentives from both federal and state governments, effective net-metering rules for ‘selling back’ surplus electricity, and increased solar panel efficiencies. However, another of the most compelling reasons for going solar doesn’t have anything to do with the economics of solar, but is rather the age-old tradition of wanting to ‘keep up with the Jones’.
For example, if my friend or neighbor chooses to get a home solar power system installed, and it’s easily visible to me, chances are it will grab my attention and I’ll ask them about it. If they then explain to me how and why they came to the decision, and can lay out exactly how solar works for them, I’m much more likely to consider going solar than I would be if I didn’t know anyone with solar panels on their roof. After all, home solar isn’t exactly mainstream (yet), and while there is plenty of information available about how to go solar in general, there isn’t a an easy way to get detailed info about home solar performance from actual solar homes and homeowners or to compare similar systems.
There are a few solar ‘simulators’ available on the web, which take into account the size and orientation of a home’s roof, along with other regional solar data, to help the solar-curious see what size solar array would work for them, and what its potential cost and generating capacity would be, and Generaytor has a similar “Virtual Solar feature.” But what sets Generaytor, a Tel Aviv-based startup, apart from other similar offerings, is their online solar community, which allows solar homeowners to compare their performance data with others, and to not only help inspire people to go solar, but to help homeowners optimize their existing solar power system.
“Our crowdsourcing platform enables collaborative analysis by transparently collecting and integrating performance data from the systems in our solar community. We aim to provide users with smart yet simple insights into their electricity production, and ultimately ways to optimize their solar return on investment.” – Generaytor
If you’re already a solar producer at your home, you can join Generaytor and compare your system’s performance with other nearby solar arrays, and use the site’s social tools to show off your solar stats. If you’re not a solar homeowner, but are curious what that would look like, the Virtual Solar option allows you to ‘try it before you buy it.’