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How does a balcony power plant work?

How does a balcony power plant work?

The popularity of balcony power plants is continuously growing, which is hardly surprising given the increasing electricity prices. These small solar systems offer an elegant solution for generating your own solar power. This not only leads to noticeable savings on electricity bills, but also actively contributes to climate and environmental protection. With their simple installation method and prices ranging between 500 and 1200 euros, they are an attractive option for anyone who wants to make their contribution to the energy transition in a cost-effective way. What is particularly advantageous is that you do not have to be the owner of the apartment or house to use a balcony power plant - tenants can also benefit from this innovative energy source.

A balcony power plant is a compact photovoltaic system that is ideal for installation on balconies, roofs or flat floors. It is simply plugged into an existing socket and connected to the home power network. This allows you to produce your own electricity, both saving costs and contributing to environmental protection. These small solar systems are made up of a few basic components: photovoltaic modules, an inverter, a mounting kit for mounting the modules and the necessary cables. In addition, some manufacturers offer special apps with which users can monitor the electricity production of their balcony power plant and the associated CO2 savings at any time.

How does a balcony power plant work?

A typical balcony power plant is made up of one or two photovoltaic modules, which together produce an output of around 700 to 850 watts. A compact microinverter is mounted on the back of these modules. This inverter is responsible for converting the direct current produced into the alternating current required for household appliances. A cable leads from the inverter and is connected to a power plug, which can then be plugged into a standard socket, be it on the balcony or in the apartment. In this way, the balcony power plant is connected to the in-house power grid. As soon as sunlight hits the solar module, it begins to generate electricity, which is then fed into the home network and used by the currently running devices.

This slows down the running of your electricity meter, resulting in less electricity being drawn from the grid and therefore cost savings. If there is enough sunlight, the meter can even stand still while devices such as refrigerators, internet routers and computers continue to use electricity. If the system produces more electricity than is currently required, the excess is fed into the public power grid.

The module is flexible to install and can be done in different locations: on the balcony, on the balcony railing, on the wall of the house, on the terrace, on a flat or pitched roof, on a gazebo or even on a garden table. Depending on the chosen location, manufacturers offer suitable brackets or stands. The installation can usually be carried out independently; only when installing on pitched roofs is it recommended to commission a specialist company to attach roof hooks and mounting frames. LORENZ-Montagesysteme GmbH has been offering high-quality substructures for photovoltaic systems for over 20 years. The company develops and manufactures its versatile aluminum assembly systems in Frechen near Cologne. Lorenz focuses on fastening solutions for balconies as well as pitched and flat roofs.

Balcony power plants with a solar module and an output of between 380 and 405 watts are available starting at a price of around 500 euros. With such a system you can save around 50 to 100 euros in electricity costs every year. A more extensive balcony power plant, equipped with two solar modules that produce between 600 and 850 watts, could give you annual savings of 100 to 200 euros. Rediscover the power of the sun with our high-quality bifacial solar modules from Meyer Burger and Solarwatt – Made in Germany. Manufactured using the latest technology, our modules offer unmatched efficiency. They are not only robust and reliable, but also optimized for maximum energy production.

The extent to which you can supply yourself with solar power depends on your personal electricity consumption and the yield of your solar system. The higher your electricity needs are during the day when the balcony power plant is actively producing electricity, the more you can use the electricity you generate yourself. Overall, it is possible to achieve a self-sufficiency rate of around 10 to 20 percent.

In an optimal scenario, the balcony power plant should have paid off the initial costs within five to ten years. The operating life of such a power plant is at least 15 years, which often corresponds to the product guarantee of manufacturers of non-European solar modules. While the inverter may need to be replaced after some time, the solar panels can often last for another 15 years. Therefore, when selecting solar modules, it is worth looking for a long product and performance guarantee as well as a contact person in the DACH region. With the bifacial modules we offer from Meyer Burger and Solarwatt, you can rely on a 30-year product and performance guarantee and the experience of various local contacts.

The electricity yield of your balcony power plant

The amount of electricity a solar module produces depends on various factors: the orientation of the module to the direction of the compass, the angle at which it is tilted to the ground, the position of your installation site, and the amount of sunlight at your location.

Interestingly, balcony power plants are not only found on balconies, but are also placed on floor frames - for example on flat roofs, terraces or in gardens. This was the result of a survey among suppliers of balcony power plants by the market research institute EuPD Research. This result is not surprising, as electricity yield tends to be higher when the module is mounted in an inclined position on a rack rather than vertically on a wall or railing. However, if there is only one balcony available, operating a balcony power plant makes sense there too. A solar module works most efficiently when it faces south and is set up at an angle of 36 degrees, measured from ground level.

Inverter performance: A crucial factor

It is not just the solar module that determines the efficiency of a balcony power plant. The inverter plays a key role. Starting by converting the direct current (DC) generated by the solar panels into alternating current (AC), the inverter adjusts the voltage and frequency of the electricity to the standards of the local power grid, typically 230 volts and 50 Hz in many countries. This adjustment is essential because most household appliances and the public power grid operate on alternating current.

In addition to the basic conversion function, the inverter also meets important safety standards. It is designed to automatically shut off in the event of a power grid problem, such as a power outage, to prevent damage. Another important feature is

maximum power point tracking (MPPT), which ensures that the solar modules always work at the most efficient operating point to achieve the maximum energy yield. This is particularly important because the power of the inverter in balcony power plants is often limited in order to comply with the legal requirements for plug-in solar systems. With a high European efficiency of 96.2% and integrated surge protection, the micro inverters from the manufacturer HERF provide the optimal basis for efficient and safe operation of your balcony power plant.

Once the alternating current is generated and adjusted, it is fed into the home network via a cable connected to a socket. The inverter ensures that the electricity is seamlessly integrated into the home network, whereby the electricity can either be consumed directly in the household or fed into the public grid. Modern inverters often also offer communication functions such as WiFi or Bluetooth, which enable users to monitor the performance of their balcony power plant and make settings using appropriate apps. The DCU measurement & throttling including app from the manufacturer HERF enables real-time monitoring and control of your PV system from anywhere. By connecting to your smartphone, tablet or computer, you can conveniently view detailed data on your energy production and consumption via the app. With this unit you have full control over your PV system.

Overall, the inverter is an indispensable part of a balcony power plant, which is not only responsible for converting solar power, but also for its efficient and safe integration into domestic use.

Climate balance: Which solar modules have the best CO2 balance?

Solar energy contributes to CO2 savings and supports climate protection. But what about the carbon footprint of the solar modules themselves? Studies by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) show that the CO2 emissions caused by the production, transport and disposal of solar modules are around 40 times lower than the emissions that would arise from generating electricity using lignite .

According to a study by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, solar modules manufactured in the EU are particularly environmentally friendly. Production in Europe, especially in Germany, causes 40 percent fewer CO2 emissions than production in China, which is mainly due to the different energy mixes of the two countries. The modules from the manufacturer Meyer Burger have a minimal CO2 footprint thanks to a regional value chain (developed in Switzerland, produced in Germany) and production completely covered by renewable energies. In addition to the place of manufacture, the construction of the modules is also important: glass-glass modules that are completely embedded in glass have a longer service life than modules with a backing film. The latter also have an aluminum frame, which has a negative impact on the CO2 balance. If you care about the environmental compatibility of your solar system, these aspects should be taken into account when selecting the modules.

Conclusion

Balcony solar systems offer an uncomplicated solution for operating household appliances with renewable energy. Both tenants and apartment owners who do not have space for an extensive solar system can use a compact mini solar system to generate enough electricity to power devices in standby mode, for example. This is also an option for homeowners, especially if installing a larger photovoltaic system is not possible. Even household appliances such as televisions or

Refrigerators can run on this energy. This not only leads to cost savings, but also actively supports the progress of the energy transition.

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