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Balcony Solar Modules vs. Traditional Solar Systems: A Cost-Benefit Analysis


Balcony Solar Modules vs. Traditional Solar Systems: An In-Depth Cost-Benefit Analysis

These days, many people facing ever-increasing energy prices are contemplating optimizing their energy costs or reducing their electricity bills. In addition to the different potential performances and initial costs of the two models, there are also legal differences and requirements to consider. Before making a decision, certain factors need to be considered, such as whether you are renting or own your home. Are there, for example, situations where a balcony power system is worthwhile for homeowners?


The Basics: What Exactly Are Balcony Solar Modules?

Balcony solar modules are a type of micro-solar system. Other terms used for this type of solar system include balcony power plant, mini-PV, or plug-in system. These systems are defined by their power limit of 800 watts and are connected to the household electrical circuit via a plug. Unlike larger PV systems, balcony power systems do not fall under building regulations. Therefore, no building application is necessary, only a notification to the network operator is required. Moreover, the installation does not need to be carried out by professionals, whereas larger PV systems must be commissioned by an electrician.

The operation of a balcony power system and a larger PV system are identical. Solar energy is captured through the solar modules and delivered as direct current to the inverter, which converts it into alternating current and feeds it into the building's power circuit for household appliance use. Excess power produced is fed back into the utility grid. It is often said that this makes the meter run backward. For balcony power systems, there is no reimbursement for the electricity fed back into the grid, as the amount is not considered significant. However, it is noteworthy that since January 2023, VAT has been removed from balcony power systems.


Cost Breakdown: What Are the Actual Expenses for Both Options?

The cost of a balcony power system is relatively low. For instance, purchasing a complete set from OneStep.Solar provides a full balcony power system for self-assembly and self-commissioning. The bureaucratic effort ends with notifying your energy supplier that you have commissioned the balcony power system. Balcony power systems cost between 600 and 1,200 euros, thus defining the financial outlay.

Setting up a PV system to reduce energy costs and achieve energy independence is somewhat more complex. The basis for calculating the price of a PV system includes the number and quality of the modules, necessary cabling, the appropriate inverter, the installation, and possibly a wallbox. A 10-kWp system without a storage unit costs between 10,000 and 20,000 euros. However, prices vary depending on the region, type of installation, and quality of the components.


Efficiency and Performance: How Do the Two Systems Compare?

A balcony power system is not designed to generate as much electricity as possible but to reduce monthly energy costs. This energy cost saving is achieved in a very simple and cost-effective manner. As the output of micro-systems is limited to 800 watts, such a system typically produces about 2 kWh/day. However, this is just an average value and your actual output may vary depending on location and orientation.

While a balcony power system is very limited in size, private PV systems can have up to 30 kWp before they become subject to income and business taxes. Thus, it is possible to install comparatively large systems. However, due to the location, a separate calculation must be made. The issue with the size of PV systems is that they generally produce a lot of electricity in the summer months, while the amount produced in the colder months significantly decreases.


Amortization of a Balcony Power System

With acquisition costs of about 1,000 EUR and an average yield of about 2 kWh/day, the total annual yield is about 800 kWh. Theoretically, at an electricity price of 30 cents, savings of 240 euros would result, so the system would amortize after about 4 years. However, electricity that is not self-consumed goes to the energy supplier and is not credited, and thus lost, which can amount to up to 30%. Calculating an average loss of 15%, a balcony power system would amortize after about 5 years. This fact is often omitted by some manufacturers, but it is part of the truth.


Long-term Benefits and Sustainability: Which System Offers the Best Advantages?

A good investment in reducing energy costs is one that ultimately pays off for you. A significant advantage of the balcony power system is that it can be commissioned immediately for little money and without external help, helping to reduce energy costs. Those who can install a larger PV system will enjoy a higher degree of electrical self-sufficiency but face a much larger initial investment and significantly greater bureaucratic and maintenance effort. Both systems have their advantages, and neither is inferior to the other. Combining both systems is also an option. For an easy start, the balcony power system is recommended.

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