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Continued: Sun Number rates homes' rooftops for solar panels

  • Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 19, 2013 - 4:50 PM

One challenge is that Lidar imagery isn’t often updated because it requires expensive flyovers. As trees grow and new buildings rise, the static 3-D snapshot won’t reflect the changes. Miller said he is working on this shortcoming, including using updated imaging data from other sources.

Sun Number isn’t the only company with a landscape approach to solar. Geostellar, a West Virginia-based firm, also has a Web-based tool that analyzes properties for their solar potential, but has different technical and business models.

So far, the Sun Number revenue stream from fees and referrals isn’t enough to make a profitable business, and its founders say they eventually will need more private investment. For now, the $1 million grant allows them to push toward a goal of mapping 40 million properties.

“That is kind of a game changer for us,” Herrmann said.

David Shaffer • 612-673-7090 Twitter: @ShafferStrib

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    Monday November 18, 2013

    Ryan Miller, the CTO of Sun Number, a company co-founded by tech whiz from Minnesota whose web portal using...

  • Sun Number has created Web-based tools to help homeowners and solar installers assess whether a building’s rooftop is suitable for solar panels. The company’s technology relies on aerial 3-D imaging data, called Lidar, that allows Sun Number to consider roof angles, nearby shade trees, tall buildings and other factors.

  • Ryan Miller of Deephaven is chief technology officer of Sun Number, a company that produces ratings for millions of buildings that might be candidates for solar power panels.

  • Ryan Miller is planning to hire more employees in Minnesota to expand deployment of Sun Number’s solar panel rating system.

  • Sun Number

    Founded: 2012

    Headquarters: Virtual company, based in Deephaven

    Founders: Ryan Miller, David Herrmann

    History: A start-up that has benefited from two U.S. Department of Energy SunShot grants totaling $1.4 million.

    Product: Web-based tools to analyze rooftop solar panel potential for 7.5 million buildings in San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson, Phoenix, Denver, Honolulu and Washington, D.C.; plans to analyze 40 million buildings, including in the Twin Cities.

    Employees: 2, plus contractors; plans more hiring.


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