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Small solar plant for self-consumption: how does a balcony power plant work and is it worth the purchase?

If rising electricity prices are getting to you, you may want to consider making the transition to solar energy. Homeowners who have a solar system installed can reap numerous benefits: lower electricity bills, a lower CO₂ footprint, and potentially higher home value. Even tenants can already produce their own electricity, using compact solar modules for the wall socket. Small PV systems are all the rage right now and are suitable for anyone with a balcony or terrace. Here you can read more about how mini solar systems work and whether they are worth buying.

Solar panel for a sunny balcony is worth buying

It is not necessary to cover an entire roof with PV solar panels for the installation to be both economically and environmentally viable. The idea of a grid-connected solar system on the balcony is gaining momentum, and tenants are not excluded. With many office workers and freelancers now working from home, any energy input from sunlight can help offset additional household electricity consumption during daylight hours. And as long as there is an electrical outlet nearby, small PV systems can be installed on balconies, garden sheds, patios, etc.

What is a balcony power plant and how does it work?

Worth a small solar plant for balcony

The balcony power plant is a small photovoltaic system for balcony or terrace, which is connected directly to the house grid via a plug. As soon as the sun shines on the solar modules, the solar energy gained is converted into usable household electricity. South-facing, sunny balconies are best suited for this purpose. There, the electricity yield is optimal.

A mini PV system consists of at least one solar module, an inverter and all the necessary connections and wiring. Unlike large PV systems, the solar system for balcony has a maximum power of 600 watts. In terms of safety, the Photovoltaic Institute of Berlin has decided that this power is safe in a household with circuit breakers.

This is how the system works:

The solar panels of the small PV system are mounted either on the balcony parapet or on the house wall. For this purpose, one uses special brackets, which are usually included in the kit. The solar system is then connected to the power grid via a SchuKo or Wieland socket.

When the sun shines on it, the PV module converts the solar energy into direct current. The inverter is used to convert this direct current into alternating current so that it can be used directly by the electrical appliances in the house.

The electricity generated is thus used for self-consumption, with the surplus being fed into the power grid. However, this is not remunerated, which is the case with a large photovoltaic system with several modules, but “donated” to the grid operator.

How to choose the right PV system for the outlet

Socket on the balcony for mini PV system

To determine which balcony PV system is suitable for you, you can use the annual electricity consumption of your household as a guide. If this is more than 2,000 kWh, then the balcony power plant with maximum power of 600 Wp (Watt Peak) will serve you well. If your annual electricity consumption is less than 2,000 kWh, a mini solar power plant with maximum power of 300 to 400 Wp would be optimal.

Is a mini PV system worth it?

Small solar system with plug for terrace

Both owners and tenants can purchase small PV systems for self-consumption with a maximum power of 600 watts for the socket. Before doing so, they are required to register the system with the grid operator and then register it with the Federal Network Agency free of charge. If the plant is not registered, then fines threaten.

Mini solar power plants are quite inexpensive compared to the larger versions and although there is no nationwide funding, many cities in Germany subsidize the purchase of balcony power plants. Such a module can usually be obtained from about 500 euros and the subsidy can be up to 200 euros.

Whether the balcony power plant is worthwhile depends on various factors. Both the number of sunny days per year and the local electricity prices play a role. Furthermore, the incidence of light on the solar module should also be taken into consideration. With favorable conditions and rising electricity costs, the small solar system for balcony is considered a worthwhile investment, the purchase of which will pay for itself in about 6 to 9 years.

Small solar power plant with storage tank – is it possible?

In the case of balcony power plants, it is important that the solar panels are used exclusively for household power supply and reduce the consumption of electricity from the public grid during the day . The combination of a mini PV system with electricity storage is usually not profitable, because the generated surplus is very small. The generated electricity is best consumed directly in the household by electrical appliances such as TV, PC, refrigerator, etc..