Can I Install Solar Panels in an Apartment?

The owners of houses and cottages are very lucky. They can install full-fledged fields of solar panels on the roofs of their houses, combining centralized electricity with independent solar systems. This allows them to save a lot of money and help fight climate change. Those who live in standard apartments aren’t so lucky. What should they do if they want to install solar panels? Is it possible at all or it is a utopian dream? Let’s take a look.

Setting Up

Of course, setting up a full-fledged solar system in a standard city apartment will be a troublesome affair. The first problem you’re going to face is how and where should you position the panels. The size of solar panels will not be your only concern; their positioning will also matter. The sun rays should touch the panel under a certain angle, or the panel won’t work at all. But how can you do it in a standard apartment?

You’re lucky if your balcony points to the right side. Then you’ll have no troubles. However, if it’s not the case, we’ll have to take a look at another options. For example, you can install the solar panels on the roof. But this option is only viable if you live on the upper floor. In other case you’ll lose a lot of energy because of lengthy cables.

Let’s take a look at one more option. You could opt for flexible thin-coated batteries. They can be glued to the window – just like how you’d apply a window tint to your car. This is quite a viable solution if your windows are quite large (the thin-coated modules are quite large in size). Yet again, everything depends on the windows’ placement.

Solar panel at an apartment balcony //

Solar panel at an apartment balcony //

Additional Equipment

If you don’t have any counterindications to installing solar panels in your apartment, you might have to think about the additional equipment. You’ll have to store the generated energy somewhere, so you’ll have to buy a battery. We recommend Li-Ion batteries, as they have a higher amount of recharge cycles. You’ll also have to buy a charge controller and a DC to AC power inverter.

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Now about the panels. You’ll have to calculate your average daily power draw to know the needed capacity of your system. For example, let’s say your apartment’s power draw is 200 kWt per month. This means you’ll need around 6,6 kWt per day. Now you know how much your system will need to generate daily. Two 240-250 W modules will generate around 5 kWt daily. You’ll need two 12V / 220 A/h batteries (for example, Li-Ion) to store that energy. Don’t forget to buy the charge controller and DC to AC invertor!

Economic Viability

Let’s see how much you’ll have to pay for the whole system. One 25 W battery usually costs around 170-250 dollars. Let’s assume you need two batteries – so, the batteries alone will cost you about 500 dollars. Add the cost of other equipment, and you’ll see that installing solar panels in an apartment will be an expensive undertaking. It will be viable only if you encounter frequent and long power outages.

If you’re looking for a more optimal solution, our advice is to opt for the combined system. This means you’ll have to buy panels and batteries with lesser capacity, as you’ll use the solar system as a backup power solution. This option will provide you with a few hours of emergency power should the outages occur.

Solar Power For the Whole House

The best option is to install a large solar system for the whole house. You’ll need to cooperate with your neighbors for this option to work. It will cost a lot more than an individual solar system, but if you distribute the total cost among all inhabitants, it will be a very viable and much more powerful solution.

Read also:  10 Things to Know Before Going Solar

This option also has several additional advantages:

  • No problems with installing the panels. You’ll have the whole roof and the southern wall at your disposal;
  • Easier to install, especially if the apartment complex features a flat roof;
  • No problems with shadows, as the roofs are constantly exposed to sunlight;
  • Stored energy can be used to power the elevators and night lamps.
Solar panel on the roof of an apartment complex //

Solar panel on the roof of an apartment complex //

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