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Mini solar devices: the power revolution from the socket

The smaller solar panels can also be connected directly to the home network via a socket. For tenants who only have a balcony or small areas, an easy way to produce and use green electricity yourself. Image: BOKU / CC BY-ND 2.0

The small solar panels can simply be plugged into an outlet. This means that many households can produce and use their own green electricity on the balcony, even in rented apartments

In typical city condominiums, there are only few opportunities for residents to produce green electricity for their own needs. Exceptions include plug-in solar devices.

In times of high electricity prices, it is becoming increasingly attractive for utility customers to produce at least some of their electricity themselves. An easy way for city dwellers to do this in an environmentally friendly way is with plug-in solar power devices.

Solar modules with a peak power of up to 600 watts can be installed or screwed onto the balcony or other suitable location and connected to the home network. There are some electrical and administrative regulations to be respected.

The user can then use some of the solar energy generated in this way in his own household. The extent of this self-consumption depends on the electrical devices the user has just turned on when the sun is shining brightly. What remains of the solar energy then flows into the general electricity grid.

Plug-in solar devices are still in a rapidly growing market niche. In particular, in the first months of this year the demand has grown considerably and the suppliers have run out of modules. This growing market, while still small, is dominated by a few large and many smaller suppliers.

There is still no significant statistic at the national level. A market study recently estimated that around 49,000 devices with a total power of 17 megawatts were sold in 2020. In 2021, there could be 80,000 devices with 34 MW.

The study also used currently available data to extrapolate how many plug-in solar devices have been sold in Germany by the end of 2021. As a result, this number is expected to be between 140,000 and 190,000 devices, their possible total power between 59 and 66 megawatts.

Small power packs were formerly known primarily as “balcony solar systems”. A surprising finding from the study, however, was that only just under a third of plug-in solar devices are actually sold for mounting on a balcony.

Some other devices were delivered with a suitable support for the garden or a flat roof for the garage. The devices are also quite often fixed on pitched roofs.

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