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Friendly, detailed, and expedient, Sungevity offers a compelling and painless argument for private solar installation.  (Source: Sungevity)
New solar sales site is part internet maps, part environmental advocate, and part business planner

While big solar plants and high tech solar cells using high-efficiency or exotic materials steal all the spotlight, it is shameful to overlook the very real financial and ecological benefits of private consumer solar cell adoption.  Private adoption lets users cut their power costs drastically, and cut down on the burning of fossil fuels, which releases greenhouse gases, sulfates, nitrates, and toxic phenyl compounds.

It seems hard to argue the logic of such benefits, but there are the inevitable detractions.  First, even with government rebates which are available in most states, the process needs an upfront investment of anywhere from $7,000 to as much as $40,000 for very large homes.  Further, some areas get less sunlight then others, so not all of these investments are created equal.  Worse still, the planning process can involve weeks of quotes and uncertainty.

This is where Sungevity, a new company founded by enterprising entrepreneur Danny Kennedy, comes in.  Sungevity looks to take the pain out of purchasing private solar power.  Users simply log onto the site, submit their address and electrical bill information and within 24 hours they have a detailed individualized analysis that beats many private quotes taking 10 times as long to receive or more.

The quote starts with the basic price of installation after local rebates.  It continues with the prospective savings over 25 years (most cells have a life of around 25-30 years or more) and how much the system will increase the value of their home (green is considered a selling point, even in today's troubled economy).  The analysis even includes images of how your house would look with solar panels.  Traditional analysis would require physical examination of the roof and days of inspection, processing, and numbers crunching.

His new system takes a complicated system and makes it simple says Kennedy.  He states, "We do all that (the calculations for preparing the estimate) in about 10 to 15 minutes."

Pleased customers can put down a deposit after their quote and schedule an installation appointment.  It's hard to get much more pain free than that.  While the system currently only operates out of its home state, California, it plans to soon expand to additional states.

A CNET writer, Michael Kanellos, did an analysis on his grandmother's house as a test of the new system.  He found that the system would provide 25 percent of the home's power on average and cost $7,511 after government rebates.  The total savings over 25 years would be an incredible $27,360.  The quote easily beat the 24-hour guarantee, coming back in a mere 2 hours.  A deposit could be placed conveniently using Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, the writer noted.

The new Sungevity system not only helps the customer, but saves money for the seller as well.  The software eliminates the need to pay an inspector to come out and visit the house to develop an estimate.  According to Kennedy, only 10 percent of such visits end in the sale.  The result is the installation cost, typically half the cost of the panels themselves, is unnecessarily high.

The system cuts installation costs by around 10 percent, and reduces estimating costs by as much as 80 percent.  The system also includes software that coordinates installation and delivery, helping to further cut down on labor costs.

The "magic smoke" driving the whole engine is a complex amalgamation of the Internet's most advanced resources.  Sungevity uses Microsoft Virtual Earth's satellite data to derive its information on the house.  The company gave Microsoft a one up over rival Google, as Microsoft offers views from different angles, where as Google only offers a top-down view. 

From the satellite information Sungevity calculates the pitch of the roof (its angle), the azimuth (what compass direction it faces), and the amount of free space for the system.  The system also takes into account the user's electrical use and geographically based average levels of solar radiation.

The company will be showcasing its hard work, mailing free fliers to addresses in Albany, Calif., with free analysis, showcasing its prowess.  While the estimates need a bit of fine-tuning based on the owner's power bills, the fliers should contain reasonable estimates and help to show the customer what their home would look like in images that combine actual pictures of their house with computer generated images.

To cut costs, Sungevity offers 5 different size systems, rather than going for custom sizes.  These mass produced systems range from 1.4 kilowatts to 5.6 kilowatts and typically cost $7,500 to $38,500 after rebates.

Sungevity is currently working to secure solar installers as subcontractors in other states or to offer its estimating services to solar contractors in other states.

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RE: Cost and Savings
By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 12:25:40 PM , Rating: 2
Not that I would have rated him down, but I can see why. Who cares if you can invest the same amount of money and make 5% over 25 years. The point is you can install a solar system, and have it pay for itself. Its only half about the investment here, most people are not going to do this just because it saves them money on their energy bill, it is also in part because they want to do what they can to help the environment.

If I was merely trying to save money on my energy bill, I would personally look past solar panels and get new windows and make sure my house was energy efficient as possible. That would save you money in the short and long term, it will make your house look nicer, and it could possibly increase the value of your home. ( my parents got new windows before their sold our old house because they were not getting large enough offers and it got them around 2x in return.)

RE: Cost and Savings
By MozeeToby on 4/24/2008 12:41:01 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you completely (check my other comments in this article if you don't believe me) there are plenty of things that can't be given monetary value that are important to many people, myself included.

However, that being said, the article itself was very much focused on the financial aspects which is what I chose to address in my comment; under the circumstances I felt it was appropriate. Look at the title of the article, "New System Shows Customers Solar Savings".

The real point of my post that the article came off as a sales pitch and used misleading statements.
The total savings over 25 years would be an incredible $27,360

Not really that incredible if a no risk investment can match it.

RE: Cost and Savings
By omnicronx on 4/24/2008 1:48:13 PM , Rating: 2
The real point of my post that the article came off as a sales pitch and used misleading statements.
Very true, it does come off as a salespitch.But.. I find it is just a way to justify the means for doing your part to help save the environment. Where in the past doing so would cost you more than its worth, this arcticle is merely stating that it is not going to set you back, and infact you will get a return from your investment. Sure a no risk investment, will give you a higher return, but that is not what it is all about, 10 years ago solar panel prices just did not justify the means because it was too much money, and it took far too long to get any kind of return. At least this way there is an incentive, you get to help out the environment, without losing money in the long run. If there w

RE: Cost and Savings
By Spuke on 4/24/2008 5:22:16 PM , Rating: 2
So a 25 year return is not too long? What was it before? 250 years? Considering the average person spends 9 years in a house before moving on, 25 is NOT a good ROI. It would take three families before the cost was made up.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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