Within SUN IS FUN project we have developed two tools – one for calculation on needed solar equipment in order to move to solar energy supply and one for users that already have solar panel systems in place which allows them to predict energy output and plan their activities. In this phase these are two independent tools but in future can be merged into one pre and post installation solution.
GO SOLAR is a tool that in an easy and fun way allows people to check if and how they can switch their current household electricity consumption to solar energy. The only thing user needs to do is to enter information about city they live in and size of home.
Based on this input information, model finds relevant weather data for entered location and calculates sun exposure this household has over the year. Additionally, model uses average consumption per household based on location. As an output, size and type of solar panels and number of batteries are recommended. Tool as well estimates total cost of that investment and calculates return of investment based on electricity bill savings. As a nice to have feature, tool displays how recommended solar panel system looks like when implemented on the roof. In future versions of the tool, there might be an option for user to upload his home picture and tool would show how solar panel system would look like on his home. Additionally, tool educates user on peak hours of solar energy production and recommends optimal time to use certain household appliances.
Model prediction and recommendation can be further improved by allowing user to provide more details regarding its household such as: answering more detailed questionnaire on usage habits and appliances used or by allowing entering average monthly electricity consumption in his household, available rooftop surface etc.
In order to popularize solar energy and its affordability and power, we recommend promoting this tool to both adults that may be ready to buy, as well as to youth that will be planning their homes in next decade. Popularization of the tool may be done through games such as “Did you know” quiz after which we would launch app version of the tool. This way they may see that solar may work on their home as well, and build self-awareness about it for future.
Link to demo app: http://gosolar-com.stackstaging.com/ (Note that this web app is still not fully functional)
SUN PLAN is intended to be used as a solar energy levels prediction tool based on meteorological data and solar system in use, as well as a tool for detailed planning of daily activities based on expected energy levels and appliances in home/science station. In some situations it can be a real life saver.
Once user has the information about available solar energy for upcoming day, they may use planning features of this tool to determine which activities they would be able to perform and when.
Prediction model produces graphs of hourly and cumulative energy levels for certain number of days in the near future. After the day is selected, detailed consumption plan may be tested and decided upon. Based on battery capacity, and energy levels, night and daytime activities are planned in details. The consumption of each device/appliance is plotted on the energy bar, separately for day and nighttime activities.
After the decision is made about device/appliance usage for particular day, tool also may be used to remotely control devices on remote unmanned or manned scientific stations
Link to demo app: http://sunshine-com.stackstaging.com/ (Note that this tool is still not fully functional)
Tool is currently web-based, but in the next phase there should be user friendly app developed to improve usability and user stickiness.
Meteorological Data from the HI-SEAS Habitat have been used for calculations and presentation.
SpaceApps is a NASA incubator innovation program.