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Cost-Benefit Analysis: Is a Balcony Solar System the Right Investment for You?

2023-08-16

Cost-Benefit Analysis: Is a Balcony Solar System the Right Investment for You?

Often, so-called micro solar systems or balcony power plants are still seen as a novelty. Yet, they are an important contribution to the energy transition and offer many advantages for operators, especially in the context of ever-increasing energy costs. Moreover, hope is dwindling due to the unstable global political situation that the energy market situation could develop in the opposite direction. Quite the contrary. Countries with the richest energy reserves are currently not among our allies and are unlikely to become so in the medium term. Therefore, it is wise to take matters into our own hands as best as we can and make ourselves as independent as possible from the developments in the energy market.

 

What is a Balcony Solar System and How Does It Work?

A balcony solar system, as mentioned earlier, falls into the category of micro solar systems. Fortunately, the federal government has recognized the potential of these systems and has raised the cap on these systems from 600 to 800 watts. The functioning of these systems is remarkably simple and fundamentally no different from larger systems. Solar energy is captured by the solar panels and passed as direct current to the so-called inverter. This inverter converts the direct current into alternating current and feeds it directly into the household electrical circuit. This is done via a simple plug connection.

 

Advantages and Potential Returns of a Balcony Solar System

The benefits of balcony solar systems are numerous. The topics of purchase and costs will be addressed in the following chapter. Once the solar investment has been made, the system is installed. Here the first major advantage of the system is revealed, as you can install the system without the need for professional help. Simply follow the manufacturer's instructions step by step. While larger systems must be connected and commissioned by an electrician, micro solar systems are activated via a simple plug that is inserted into a socket. No building permit is necessary for mounting the solar panels, unlike larger systems, since they are exempt from building regulations. Here too, the usual safety regulations must be followed. If you are a tenant of a rental property, it was previously necessary to obtain the landlord's consent to install and operate such a system. Here too, the legal situation has changed in favor of the operators. The personal decision of the tenant to operate a balcony power plant can no longer be denied by the landlord. However, the landlord has a say in the manner of installation.

When it comes to the question of return on investment, this is relatively easy to answer. Generally, every solar system pays off for various reasons. Financially, a balcony solar system is worthwhile if the orientation allows for an adequate yield. Although it is unlikely to generate surpluses, a balcony solar system is sufficient to significantly reduce electricity costs. In addition, the system pays for itself after just a few years. Besides the personal return, there is also a broader one.

Every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced and consumed by oneself does not need to be generated by a power plant. This saving of electricity, usually generated from fossil fuels such as coal or gas, has a direct and positive impact on the environment and the climate. The effects of climate change have taken on dramatic proportions in the last four years. Temperature records are being broken one after another, droughts have persisted regionally for years, and large-scale wildfires around the world are increasing dramatically, exacerbating the problem. Investing in a solar system is thus a sensible investment in many respects, both economically and environmentally.

 

Initial Costs and Ongoing Expenses Overview

The initial costs for a micro solar system are manageable. Depending on performance and execution, it costs about 1,000 to 2,000 euros. It is advisable to fully exploit the legal framework for micro solar systems. The current limit is 800 watts. There are hardly any ongoing operational costs. The installation can be carried out by oneself, as well as the commissioning. Subsequent costs for maintenance and care are also minimal. Both can also be performed by the operator. To maintain the system, it is sufficient to check the surfaces of the solar panels for damage and the plug connections of the wiring. If both are in order, the system should function perfectly.

The ROI of solar systems, i.e., the return on investment or profitability, is calculated from the profit of revenues and the procurement and installation costs as well as the ongoing costs. Depending on the individual situation, balcony power plants can pay for themselves after five years. However, it varies depending on the income situation and the development of electricity prices. With higher electricity prices, the point can also be reached earlier.

 

Individual Factors That Might Influence Your Decision

The main question to ask is whether the installation of a solar system is possible in your particular case. If the answer is yes, the next question is whether such an investment is feasible in the necessary amount to save on energy costs. If the answers to these questions are affirmative, nothing should stand in the way of implementing the project.

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