SolarCity Works With Google Nest to Spur Solar in Homes

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SolarCity Corp. will join Google Inc. to install smart thermostats and monitoring software that increases energy efficiency in homes powered by solar panels.

SolarCity, the largest provider of panels for homes in the U.S., will deploy Google’s Nest thermostat for 10,000 new rooftop-power customers in California, the company said Monday in a blog post on its website.

Nest thermostats program themselves based on owner preferences and schedule, reducing energy use. Combining the thermostats with rooftop solar will allow a home to be cooled during the day using power only from the solar array, reducing power purchased from the grid, according to the blog post. That will become increasingly valuable for homeowners as utilities seek to cut the amount they pay consumers for the excess power produced during the day.

The initial deployments will help the companies better manage energy use and eventually run other appliances like pool pumps, hot tubs and clothes dryers off solar power, according to San Mateo, California-based SolarCity.

Declining solar panel costs and leasing programs that offer installation with no upfront customer payment has led to a boom in U.S. rooftop systems, which have climbed more than 50 percent annually the past three years. Utilities in some states have sought added fees from customers who generate their own power, saying the funds will support a grid that users sell excess supply to and rely on when the sun isn’t shining.