Amortization – calculate the costs and yields of your balcony power plant

Mini solar systemssmall photovoltaic systems, also known as “balcony power plants” – cost less and less. Since 2006, purchases have been reduced by a considerable 75 percent! At the same time, the devices are getting better and better. You get more and more electricity for less and less money. This means that a solar system pays for itself much earlier (amortization), from then on you make a profit by selling surplus electricity via the feed-in tariff.
In addition, such so-called plug-in solar devices are subsidized in most cities and municipalities, which further reduces the acquisition costs. And of course you not only reduce your costs, but also CO2 emissions. In combination with an electricity storage system, you are also very independent.
With your own mini solar system, you can kill three birds with one stone: you save money, make yourself independent of the electricity price and reduce your ecological footprint. Of course, this doesn’t all happen overnight. We therefore want to give you a brief and clear explanation of exactly how long you have to wait before a small, lightweight photovoltaic system for your balcony, garden or mobile home really pays off.

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Calculate costs for solar systems

A mini solar system / balcony power plant costs around 500-600 euros, depending on the quality. However, you should calculate the costs over a certain period of time and taking into account savings factors such as subsidy, location, orientation, electricity consumption, etc.
Many use the price per kilowatt peak as a normalized value – you can find out exactly what this is here. The number and size of your solar modules are also crucial. You can find an overview of costs here.

Cost overview for our solar systems

We offer two types of mini solar systems: Classic complete kits and ultra-light kits, especially for balcony railings. These are available in 400 and 800 watt versions.   With optimum alignment, electricity consumption by 4 people and average subsidies, the whole thing pays for itself(amortizes) after a good 4 to 5 years. In the table you can see how the costs of balcony power plants differ and what the main influencing factors are.

Cost table for ultra-light solar panels

Ultralight panels --- in wattsInverter --- in wattsStorage --- in kWhAmount of electricity generated --- in kWh per year4 people consume per day --- in kWhElectricity generated by the sun --- in days per yearSavings in euros --- at an electricity price of 35 ct/kWh
8008002,58801180 308,00 €
10008002,5110011100 385,00 €
12008005,0132011120 462,00 €
16008005,0176011160 616,00 €
20008005,0220011200 770,00 €

Cost table for classic solar panels

Classic panels --- in wattsInverter --- in wattsStorage --- in kWhAmount of electricity generated --- in kWh per year4 people consume per day --- in kWhElectricity generated by the sun --- in days per yearSavings in euros --- at an electricity price of 35 ct/kWh
8208002,59021182 315,70 €
12308005,0135311123 473,55 €
16408005,0180411164 631,40 €
20508005,0225511205 789,25 €

What do the components of a solar system cost?

Solar module

Depending on the type and quality of the solar cells, a solar module costs around 600 euros per kWp. A 400 watt solar module, which is often found in mini solar systems and balcony power plants, can cost anything from 100 to over 1,000 euros. It is difficult to give exact figures, as material prices and manufacturing costs fluctuate, among other things. There are also huge differences in quality.


An inverter converts the direct current from the solar modules into standard household alternating current. Depending on quality, features and size, it costs approx. 100 euros for the 300 watt version and approx. 130 euros for the 600 watt version.


With the mini solar systems from Plug the Sunshine, the inverter is always included in the complete package and does not incur any extra costs. Because an important relay is missing in Deye brand inverters, we do not offer devices of this brand.

Current meter

An electricity meter for small PV systems costs from 15 euros and is only used as an option for smaller systems up to 7 kWp. It records household electricity consumption and feed-in power in real time and transmits the data to an intelligent energy management system. The legislator has set upper price limits. The costs are up to 60 euros per year for an installed output of up to 7 kWp, and a maximum of 100 euros per year for an installed output of 7 to 15 kWp.

Metal framework

A metal frame for a balcony power station costs around 80 euros, although there are different prices due to the variety and quality. Our ultra-light solar modules, especially for balcony railings, are attached using Velcro fasteners developed for this purpose. A metal construction facilitates installation and enables optimum alignment of solar systems. For solar installations on the roof, it is also mandatory to use scaffolding from a working height of 3 m. This does not apply to plug-in solar systems / balcony power plants, but makes sense, for example on the ground, in order to make better use of the sun’s rays.

Mounting (optional)

It costs around 300 euros to have a solar system installed on a balcony or similar. Our balcony power station sets are specially designed so that you can manage without a tradesman.

Each of our classic balcony power station kits contains a weatherproof metal support system with which you can easily attach the solar modules at different angles (35°, 65° or 90°) to your balcony, balcony railing or to the ground. Each ultra-light balcony power station kit includes a support for inverters and special cable ties for easy attachment of the solar panels to the balcony railing.
The installation of a large-scale solar system on the roof, including cabling, fuses, connection to the power grid and commissioning of a 7.5 kWp system costs between 800 and 1000 euros. The exact costs depend on the type of installation and the conditions on site (roof access, etc.).

Tax & business registration (only for large-scale PV systems)

Since January 1, 2023, a VAT rate of 0 percent has applied to private solar systems. Photovoltaic systems up to 30 kWp will no longer be taken into account for income tax purposes with retroactive effect from January 1, 2022. A tax is only due for large-scale photovoltaic systems from 10 kW. It is not yet clear what the situation will look like in 2024. An extension of the tax exemption has not been announced.

When does a solar system pay for itself?

Mini solar systems pay for themselves after around 4 to 5 years(see table above). Then your investment will have paid for itself. How quickly your balcony power plant pays for itself depends on the purchase price, the number of solar modules, the electricity price, your electricity consumption, how much subsidy you receive and, of course, how well your solar system is positioned.

To the solar calculator

Calculate with just a few clicks whether a mini solar system is worthwhile for you. Click here for the calculator from the Berlin University of Applied Sciences.

Minimize costs for mini solar systems

You can make sure that your balcony power plant runs as optimally as possibleby paying attention to the perfect location, the best orientation, shade and your power consumption:


Solar radiation varies depending on the location and plays a key role in the yield. In Germany, the average annual solar radiation is 1,000 kWh/m², in southern Germany it is up to 1,200 kWh/m², whereas in northern Germany it is only 950 kWh/m². The number of hours of sunshine also increases the further south you are. To ensure that your mini solar system pays for itself quickly, the solar radiation is also sufficient in the north.


A solar system generates the most electricity at a tilt angle of 35 degrees above the ground. The further the angle deviates, the lower the output. Many balcony power plants are mounted at an angle of 90 degrees – i.e. flat on the outside of the balcony railing – and are still efficient enough to quickly pay for themselves.


Photovoltaic systems of any size should not be located in the shade of buildings or trees, or at least not very much. Also check whether leaves regularly fall on your solar panels and whether you can clean the modules easily and safely.

Power consumption

A photovoltaic system only produces electricity when the sun is shining, mostly at midday. Electricity consumption in private households mainly takes place in the morning, at midday and in the evening. In Germany, the average annual solar radiation is 1,000 kWh/m², with the peak load occurring from around 17:00-22:00. Although this does not ensure immediate – and therefore optimal – electricity use from PV, our experience shows that around 80-90 percent of solar power is actually used and only 10-20 percent is fed into the grid. So the better you can adapt your electricity consumption to the sun, the higher your yield.
This can be increased by integrating an electricity storage system, as this allows you to use the electricity produced during the day for your fridge, freezer and so on at night.
You should also be aware that a balcony solar system is not enough to cover all your electricity needs. Especially not in winter. Your mini PV system covers around 15-25 percent of your annual electricity consumption.

Reduce costs for solar systems through subsidies

Subsidies and grants

There is no uniform subsidy program for solar systems in Germany , and not all federal states subsidize the purchase. Local authorities also subsidize with different funding rates and conditions. You can find out which federal state and which city or municipality provides how much funding here.


The bureaucratic effort for solar system loans is quite high, but can be really worthwhile! KfW, individual federal states and energy suppliers grant particularly favorable loans for sustainable energy generation. As the KfW provides a loan with low interest rates through a bank, your bank may either charge higher interest rates and / or shorter terms for small loans, or refuse them altogether. Loans are therefore usually more worthwhile for large-scale photovoltaic systems. You can find out more about solar loans here.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

A kWp (kilowatt peak) measures the maximum (theoretical) output of a solar module. Measurements are taken under ideal or standard conditions (e.g. without fluctuating solar radiation), making different solar modules comparable. 1,000 watts of rated power correspond to 1 kWp. Our classic complete balcony power plant 400 W kit has 0.41 kWp, for example.

Amortization is when an investment pays for itself. This is the case, for example, if your balcony power station has saved electricity costs equivalent to the purchase price since it was commissioned. If your balcony solar system costs 1,000 euros and you save 200 euros in electricity costs per year, your system will have paid for itself after 5 years.

If we take the average annual energy yield of solar radiation per square meter of surface area in Germany (between 950 and 1,150 kWh/kWp), a 600 W micro solar system would generate 0.69 MWh at 1,150 kWh/kWp. An average family of four consumes around 4.5 MWh of electricity per year. The calculation shows that a mini solar system / balcony power plant with 0.69 MWh saves around 15 percent of electrical energy per year, which currently amounts to around 350 euros in Germany. However, as electricity becomes more expensive from year to year, your annual savings will also increase.