These days, you can order just about anything online, from dinner to Saturday night's date (although the latter is not recommended).

But what about solar panels for your home? Much of the buzz surrounding solar energy has focused on the environmental and long-term cost benefits of going solar, but the process of outfitting a residence with solar panels doesn't get as much attention.

And it’s a process that’s rife with difficulties and expense; analysts say about half the total cost of solar-power systems are nonpanel costs, including installation.

How does a homeowner figure out what kind of a system to buy and how much it will cost?

A Berkeley, Calif.-based startup wants to streamline the conversion to solar power and make it cheaper and easier for the average Joe Suburbanite to go green.

Sungevity, which launched last week on Earth Day, uses satellite imaging and proprietary software to give users a quick online quote of the best solar-power systems for their homes, rather than requiring a customer to pore over the yellow pages only to bring a crew over multiple times to measure a roof by hand and calculate what kind of system is needed.

The company says its remote appraisal system can save a customer up to 10 percent over other solar companies because of fewer site visits.

Once a user enters a home address online, Sungevity e-mails back a suggested set-up from among five different solar-system options, which range in cost from $7,500 to $38,500, including the installation.

The estimate also includes information about the financial returns for the customer, and then the system is delivered via the United Parcel Service and a provider will come over to install it.

Sungevity was founded by Danny Kennedy, the former manager of Greenpeace Australia and Pacific and spearhead of the organization's California's California Clean Energy Campaign in 2001.

After more than a decade of exposure to and advocacy within the industry, he said he saw a shortage of economical ways to deliver solar on a small two- to three-kilowatt scale. "We want to see solar uptake through the middle class," he told Greentech Media. "I know the industry very well. I knew that there was a deficit of strong business models that can really deliver on the mass distributed model on a large scale."

Sungevity raised a first round of funding last year from German solar companies Solon and Isol, along with a few angel investors including actress Cate Blanchett, who is a friend of Kennedy.

The company also wants to revolutionize that way solar power is marketed to customers. Jst a few days ago, it created and delivered customized leaflets with quotes for how much it would cost 2,000 homes to go solar to in Albany, Calif.

Sungevity also hopes to expand direct marketing to other municipalities and encourage homeowners everywhere to adopt the technology.

"Basically, we need to ramp up and innovate, and the Internet is going to be a key channel to getting to customers and making it easy and low cost," Kennedy said. "Even if they don't take the quote from us, at least they'll have their eyes open to the benefits of solar and go with a local provider."

Sungevity is not the first to try to simplify solar installations. Verde Energy, which provides a bidding service for renewable-energy installations, uses Google Earth – as well as a survey its customers fill out online – to gather information for projects that contractors then bid on, although it still requires an on-site consultation afterward.

But if Sungevity succeeds in making it as easy to order solar power online as it is to buy music, books and clothes, it could ease its way into a larger solar market.