To work out which is the best solar energy calculator to use you first need to work out what information you need.
Some solar panels calculators focus on calculating solar energy production data and some are more focused on the financial aspects of going solar. This later type of solar calculator is sometimes known as a solar payback calculator.
There are two leading independent solar energy calculators available to consumers and solar installers in America who want to do solar calculations.
The first solar calculator is PV Watts from NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratories). This solar calculator is known to be strong on forecasting energy production for a specific array of solar panels on a specific roof in a specific location. In fact it is energy production data from this calculator that is used by many other solar calculators including www.solar-estimate.org.
Calculate how many solar panels you would need to power your home, the cost of the solar panels and your return and payback period
However, the limitation of the PV Watts calculator is that you need to enter a specific size of solar system it can not tell you what size of system you are likely to need based on the size of your energy bill. The PV Watts calculator also requires you to know how much you pay for electricity whereas the solar-estimate.org solar calculator is linked to the pricing schedules of each of the utilities and so once you enter your utility and average monthly bill the www.solar-estimate.org calculator can work out how much power you are using and what size of system you would need to cover that power usage.
The benefit of the PV Watts calculator is that it shows you energy production in each month of the year and also you can use this tool without having to enter your name or any of your contact details. The PV Watts solar calculator is often used by installers to produce a nice graph of solar production over each month of the year once the installer has worked out what size solar system they wish to quote a client.
The advantage of the solar-estimate.org calculator is that it uses the same PV watts solar irradiation and production data but it is linked to the pricing tables of each utility and to live pricing data provided by around 200 solar installers around America. This means with the solar-Estimate calculator you only have to know what utility you are with and your average monthly power bill and the solar-estimate.org calculator can tell you what size system you need and how much it will cost. With the PV Watts calculator you first have to know both of these things.
The disadvantages of the www.solar-estimate.org solar calculator is that to use this calculator you must be prepared to be contacted by a solar company and so we suggest that if you are just after production data you are best to use the PV Watts Calculator but if you are after more detailed financial intelligence and are at the point of wanting an estimate that will be confirmed with exact live pricing from solar companies then you are better to use the www.solar-estimate.org solar calculator.