Setting up a 600W balcony solar plant for around 200 Euros?
From the beginning we have been amazed by the ease with which it's possible the produce your own
electricity from the sun these days. The balcony solar plants simply plug into any common outlet and
simply reduce the amount of electricity drawn from the public grid by the amount your solar panels produce.
Up to 600 W are legal in Germany.
We opted for a 810 W setup of panels with a 600 W inverter. That means even outside of peak sunshine we will be closer to the allowed 600 W output. We had done some research on these panels as we had considered selling them ourselves via our shop. We opted against that for now, since the logistics are quite challenging but still wanted to try one ourselves. The decision to actually purchase one was quite last minute as we saw one on sale for 650 Euro at Netto-Online of all places.
The package did not include any frame or support to attach the actual panels, we needed to buy extension cords and a separate measuring device but other than that the installation was quite smooth. We decided to place it on the garage that sits right in front of my balcony because the size of the panels was actually a bit more than we anticipated.
For measuring the produced electricity we decided to go with the cheapest smart wifi outlet thingy from Amazon for 27 Euros. This is not ideal from the data you get but at least you know the daily, monthly and overall amount of electricity produced. We will update some more usage data after a while. Stay tuned...
Carbon footprint amortization
As soon as we have some confident estimation on the amount of electricity produced we intend to also review how that compares to the embodies carbon footprint of the setup. With the financial subsidy it seems very likely that we will reach financial return way before actually reaching a return on the "spent" CO₂e for the embodied carbon footprint of the inverter and the panels.
Easter Update (April 10, 2023)
The first few weeks have passed, since setting up the panels and we now have a first indication of the performance. On completely rainy days we still collect around 0,5kWh (~25 cent at current retail prices). On a mostly overcast day this goes up 0,9kWh (~45 cent at current retail prices). The peak we have seen on a very sunny day in spring was 2kWh (~1€ at current market prices).
From these numbers it seems somewhat realistic to collect around 1kWh on average (a little more in summer, less in winter). With 365 days per year this amounts to 182€ saved on the annual energy bill. Pretty sweet considering the setup cost was only a bit over 200€ to start with.
We will of course keep this updated throughout the year and also will work on an analysis of the embodied carbon footprint vs. carbon savings compared to the current electricity mix in Germany.