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Even if you live in an apartment, solar panels can power your house, enabling you to conserve electricity in an eco-friendly way. You might have to invest a little initially, but they quickly pay for themselves. This article covers the advantages, installation prices, and to determine if installing solar panels in your apartment building is a good idea.
What are solar panels?
Solar panels are light-to-electricity converters. They are named “solar” panels because the sun, known as Sol by astronomers, is the most efficient light source available.
The panel is made up of a grid-like pattern of photovoltaic (PV) cells sandwiched between two sheets of conductive materials. The panel converts the PV cells’ direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC). This allows the building to draw solar power whenever it needs it.
Solar panels can be used for many things, like telecommunications equipment, remote energy systems for cabins, remote sensing, and electricity for homes and businesses.
Can I set up solar panels in my apartment?
Yes, you can install solar panels to power your apartment. However, only a portable solar panel system is generally small enough to fit on a balcony, roof, or other sunny location.
In addition, smaller solar systems that are used for apartments have a low power output, ranging from 0.3 to 1.5 kWh daily. So, you have to look at the space and the amount of electricity sufficient for your apartment to buy the right size of solar panel and the electric grid.
Another consideration before installing solar panels in your apartment is management’s permission. Apartment owners do not own any section of the building’s roof, but it is owned by the owners’ management corporation (OMC) because it is a communal area. Therefore, OMC approval is needed before installation.
Can you put solar panels on a rental property?
Yes, you can install solar panels for rental properties. However, you’ll have to consider the landlord’s preferences. If you are a renter interested in using solar energy on your property, try the following options:
- Suggest solar panel installation to your landlord.
- If your landlord agrees, discuss the financial and technical details.
- Negotiate a rental agreement that includes the installation of solar panels.
- However, if your landlord is unwilling to install solar panels, consider alternative options, such as setting up a portable solar panel or connecting to a solar garden.
- Research the cost and technical requirements of the portable solar panel or solar garden connection and compare them to other solar energy options.
- Purchase the necessary equipment and hire a professional installer to set up the solar panel or solar garden connection.
- Connect the solar energy system to your rental property to enjoy the benefits of solar energy.
How do I install solar panels in my apartment?
You will need the following components for the installation::
- An inverter that transforms DC power into AC power.
- A voltage regulator (or “charge controller”) to maintain a constant output voltage.
- A solar battery that uses PV solar cells to collect solar energy for later use.
Once you have the items, follow these three easy steps:
- Attach the solar panels to the mounts or racking as directed on the packaging.
- Link the solar panel system to the rack.
- Lastly, put up a solar inverter to generate electricity.
How many solar panels are sufficient to power a small apartment?
The number of solar power panels needed for a home is not 100% related to its size. The following factors also play a role:
- How much power you use: The number of solar panels required will depend on your actual electricity usage.
- Enough sunlight: Homes in less sunny places will need more solar panels. For example, Malaysia has an average of six to seven hours of sunlight per day, giving solar panels enough daylight hours to absorb energy.
- Panel wattage: Wattage defines the amount of electricity your solar panels can generate. Thus, fewer panels are required if they have a high wattage rating. Nowadays, most solar panels have a voltage level of roughly 370 watts per panel.
- Expert’s advice: A professional solar installer can check your home to gauge how much solar power it will need.
To better estimate the number of solar panels, read How Many Solar Panels Does It Take to Power Your Home?
How much do solar panels for an apartment cost?
The cost of solar panels in apartments depends on various factors. This includes the size of the installation, the type and quality of panels, and the scheme or company you use.
Solar panels cost anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50 per watt, with the location being the main factor in the final price.
A 6 kW solar panel system would require around 15 to 18 solar panels to power a 1500 square feet apartment. It would cost an average of $16,500.
But this only includes the cost of the panels; installation costs must also be taken into account. Depending on the system size (often 3 kW or 8 kW), installing solar panels in a home can range from $9,255 to $28,000.
Is solar worth it for an apartment?
Solar panels are worthwhile if you want to minimise your carbon footprint by committing to renewable energy. However, if your goal is to lower your monthly electricity bill significantly, it might take some time to realise those savings.
A family-size apartment is about 1500 square feet. Between 15 and 18 solar panels would be needed to power this house. So if the monthly rent is around $120, you can pay it off within 6 to 10 years.
This is, of course, a broad but common estimate, as usage diversity, solar hours, location, and panel type can all affect this figure.
Types of solar panels for apartments
There is a misconception that solar panels are most suitable for larger properties. Generally, they have more space to accommodate it. However, there are panels now available for smaller settings, such as condos or apartments. Here are four types of solar panels for condos to help you understand which is best for your apartment.
1. Portable or plug-in solar panels
Portable solar panels are small, lightweight, and simple to set up, making them ideal for apartments. Considerably cheaper than standard solar panels but functions effectively using the sun’s rays to make electricity or heat. They can produce up to 320 watts of power. Also, portable and plug-in solar panels often come with a stand, cable, carrying case, solar charge controller, inverter, and battery.
- Low maintenance is required for portable/plug-in solar panels.
- Most foldable solar panels are compact enough to be carried in a bag.
- Reduce electricity costs (at home).
- Most portable solar panels are water-resistant.
- Mobile solar panel charge controllers provide overcharge protection.
- Output typically decreases when the weather is unfavourable.
- When the panels are made, a vast amount of toxic waste is produced, which is not good for the environment.
- The cost per watt increases as the size of the solar system decreases.
2. Window solar panel
Simply put, window solar panels are glass panels that double as PV panels. PV glass with solar cells is placed on them to harness the sun’s energy. As a result, it generates sufficient electricity to power the property’s electrical appliances.
- Window solar panels help make indoor spaces less sweltering.
- Reduces energy use and costs for utilities.
- Protects indoor furnishings from sun damage by filtering off harmful UV rays.
- Maintenance is cheap compared to the cost of solar panels.
- Costs to keep it running are minimal.
- The price is higher compared to standard windows.
- Low energy conversion rate.
- The removal of old solar panels might be hazardous to the environment.
3. Balcony solar panel
Solar panels for apartment balconies are wired into the mains with the help of an inverter.
- Suitable for rental apartments.
- Flexible, simple assembly.
- Small carbon footprint.
- Full performance is only possible with sufficient light.
- Relatively low performance.
- Reliance on the electrical grid.
- Inability to use it as an emergency generator.
4. DIY solar panel
DIY solar panels are another option for apartments. You may shop online for solar panel kits, that include batteries, inverters, and solar charge controllers. After that, construct a system that meets your particular needs.
However, remember that you must have a basic understanding of electricity to properly and effectively build a DIY solar system.
- Design your solar panel system to match your specific requirements.
- Save money on your power bill and installation of a solar system.
- Basic electrical expertise is required to set up a safe system.
- Product selection is limited.
Best solar panels for apartments
Monocrystalline solar panels are one of the best for apartments, with an efficiency rating of between 17% and 22%. This is recommended because it requires fewer panels to produce significant power.
Monocrystalline solar panels are highly efficient in their power production method. A monocrystalline solar cell is made of a single silicon crystal. As a result, electrons can move more freely across it, making the cell more efficient in producing electricity.
Besides, Monocrystalline panels today have an output rating of 320 watts or more; some even go up to 375 watts. This is sufficient to harness enough electricity for your apartment.
Installing solar panels in an apartment can be challenging, but the environmental and financial benefits are worth the headache. It will save a lot of energy costs in the long run and help you do your part for the environment. For more on solar panels, check out JustSolar.com.