If you live in an apartment, solar power may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking for ways to reduce your energy consumption and lower your utility bills. In fact, it seems impossible due to space constraints and you might not own the roof space 99% of the time. However, there are several ways you can use solar power in an apartment, whether it’s through a portable solar array or flexible solar panels.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering solar power for your apartment:
Consider The Feasibility Of Using Solar Power In An Apartment
There are several factors to consider when determining whether solar power is right for your apartment, including:
- The amount of area with sunlight exposure in the apartment
- The size and layout of your apartment
- Your energy needs
- The cost of installing a solar power system
Amount of Area with Sunlight Exposure in the Apartment
If you are lucky and you have a balcony facing south, then installing a solar power system for your apartment could be a good fit for you. Knowing the amount of area with sunlight exposure will help you determine how effective your solar panels can be in minimizing your electricity bill.
Solar panels will need a lot of sunlight exposure for them to work properly. If your balcony receives a lot of sunlight during the day, you might want to explore installing PV modules. Just make sure it will be safely and securely installed.
You may start with some lightweight solar panels that are flexible like the thin film modules. In this case, you may require at least 2 nos. of 200-watts modules in order for you to feel its effect on your monthly electricity bills. You can either install an on-grid inverter and directly use it with your appliances. Another way is to use solar charge controllers that will charge your batteries and use the stored electricity later.
Size and Layout of your Apartment
Depending on the size and layout of your apartment, you will know how many solar panels you will be able to install.
For example, if you are living in a studio apartment with an average size of 514 sq.ft., then you might have a side dimension of 20 to 25 ft only.
If luckily, you have a balcony then you might be able to install a maximum of 4 solar panels with a 200-Watt capacity each. Then you will have, let’s say, an 800-Watt solar PV system.
This is not a very huge system, but at least, you will be able to harness solar energy out of it.
Your Energy Needs
One of the main issues with apartments nowadays is the ever-increasing electricity bills. This is obviously tied up with how much the apartment owners use and what types of electrical appliances they have.
So, your energy needs will also determine if you really need to install solar panels or not. In most cases, people want to use solar panels to at least see a decrease in their monthly bills. It is indeed a good investment if you do it correctly.
If you are a huge power consumer, then installing solar panels for your apartment will be a very attractive option. If you don’t use electricity that much, which is a very rare case, then why are you reading this even, right? I mean, whatever reason you might have in mind, going solar is still a very recommendable thing to explore and do.
Cost of installing a solar power system
Installing solar panels will, 99.9% of the time, be not free. There will be a cost in installing a solar power system and it’s not that very cheap as well.
For apartments, it will be rare to install above 10kWp systems, so you might be installing only between 200Wp to 2kWp systems. And, depending on what components you buy, it can cost you between 500USD to 5000USD.
The majority of the cost will be from the solar panel itself, then from the structures that will hold it, then the electronic devices, and then the cables.
Regulations, Regulations, Regulations
Now, this might be a very tough reality for solar lovers who live in apartments. In many places and regions, installing solar panels in apartments isn’t encouraged or even not allowed due to certain reasons and restrictions.
However, if the utility company allows you to connect to the grid with solar panels on your apartment, then that is a sign you must go for it. If they don’t, you can deploy a small-scale off-grid solar system instead. This way, you are not connected to the main electric grid but you can still use solar energy by utilizing batteries.
Why solar is not allowed in apartments?
Here is a list of some hindrances why it might not be allowed:
- Aesthetics. Some communities do not allow solar panels to be seen from the roads.
- Safety. Improper installation of solar panels might cause some mishaps.
- Utility Approval. Most utility companies will require that you own the property before you can install solar panels and use their grid.
- The Building or Property Management. The owner of the building may not allow this type of installation or modification to their property.
Evaluate Your Needs And Find The Right System For You
Once you’ve determined that solar power is a feasible option for your apartment, the next step is to evaluate your energy needs and find the right system for you.
If you have a small apartment and only use a few appliances, a small solar power system may be all you need. However, if you have a larger apartment or use energy-intensive appliances, you’ll need a more powerful system.
Ways To Use Solar Panels In Your Apartment
Living in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t use solar power to your advantage. There are many ways to use solar power, even if you don’t have a lot of space. If you’re looking to use solar power in your apartment, here are a few ways you can do it:
1. Get some portable solar panels for your balcony or patio
If you have a balcony or patio, you can get portable solar panels installed. This is a great way to generate some of your electricity, and it can also help to offset your energy costs.
Solar panels on the balcony are simple to install. Usually, it may not require the services of solar installers. The balcony should face south if you live in the northern hemisphere to get maximum sunlight exposure.
Another advantage of such an installation is that the solar PV can be taken with us when we leave the apartment.
This system is simple because it is not linked to the apartment’s behind-the-meter electrical grid. This means that the system is clean and easy to set up.
2. Use solar-powered lights
There are now many different solar-powered lights on the market that can be used both indoors and outdoors. These are a great way to save on your energy bill, and they’re also environmentally friendly. You may install these devices on your balcony, patio, or wherever you want in your apartment.
Solar lights are simple to set up and maintain. The best part is that they will not increase your electricity bill. Solar cells are used as a power source in outdoor solar lighting systems. Sunlight is converted into electricity by these solar cells. Batteries are electronic devices that store electrical energy. To ensure that it only illuminates at night, it is usually equipped with a light sensor or a timer. Manufacturers most commonly use nickel cadmium, sealed lead acid, and lead acid batteries for their batteries.
Solar cells, which convert sunlight into electricity, are used in solar lighting systems. For use at night, the electricity is stored in batteries. Nickel cadmium, sealed lead acid, and lead acid batteries are the most commonly used by manufacturers.
3. Get a solar-powered charger
If you have a lot of devices that need to be charged, a solar-powered charger can be a great way to do it. There are many different types of solar chargers available, so you’re sure to find one that meets your needs.
4. Use solar panels for your windows
There are not many companies that do solar windows today. To generate electricity from the sun, you can still place your flexible solar panels behind your clear glass windows. This way, you will be able to still collect sunlight and turn it into useable electricity.
As they say, “if there’s a will, there’s a way!”
5. Ask your apartment building owner to install solar panels
Now, this might be your best shot at using solar power for your apartment. If you have special permission from the building owner, they might be convinced in installing your solar panels on the roof of your apartment and connect them to your appliances.
This will vary from case to case, of course, and the possibility of them agreeing with you might be very slim. However, if they agree and allow you to have solar panels on the building, then, that’s a great way to reduce electricity consumption from the local electricity company.
Get The Most Out Of Your Solar Power System By Following These Tips
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your solar power system:
- Use energy-efficient appliances: Energy-efficient appliances use less electricity, which means they’ll put less strain on your solar power system.
- Take advantage of natural light: During the daytime, open up the blinds and let natural light brighten up your apartment. This will help reduce the amount of electricity you need to use.
- Use solar power during peak hours: Most solar power systems are designed to generate the most electricity during the daytime when the sun is at its strongest. So, try to use appliances that require the most electricity during the daytime hours.
Conclusion: Is it feasible to use solar power in an apartment?
You may believe that solar is not an option if you rent a residential flat. However, in many cases, it can still be feasible to install solar panels in apartment buildings. You just need to be creative and think outside the box!
If you have even a passing interest in solar, don’t let your homeownership status or any other factors deter you. A solar power system, great or small, not only brings clean energy to apartments, but also helps eliminate the wrong perception that solar is too complicated.
I hope this piece of information will help you in your journey towards renewable energy!
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- Perlin, J. Passive Solar History (2005, January 1) California Solar Center. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- Flexible solar cell research (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexible_solar_cell_research)
- Development of a Portable Solar Storage Device (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337684611_Development_of_portable_solar_storage_device)