Clean Power

Published on December 20th, 2012 | by Thomas Gerke


Plug & Save – New DIY Solar Systems from Germany

December 20th, 2012 by  

Some call them “Balcony Power Plants.” They represent the first generation of what may be the future of micro/small residential solar systems. They are off-the-shelf DIY solar systems that require little to no technical skills nor any permits for their installation.

“It’s as simple as putting together IKEA furniture,” says Holger Laudeley, the engineer who developed this new kind of modular all-in-one solar system.

Sun Invention Plug & Save – Balcony Mounting System

The radical new concept is as simple as it is brilliant. It consists of a rather regular-looking 195W solar panel that has all the necessary electrical equipment (inverters, wiring,…) mounted to its back. Up to 18 of these modules can be linked to form a 3.51kW solar system. The only thing the owner of new system has to do is: 1) point the panel toward the sun, and 2) plug it into a normal socket in the house or apartment.

One More Thing

Laudeley’s new solar concept is marketed under the label “Sun Invention — Plug & Save,” and the best part of this story is: there are already two “Plug & Save” products available in solar PV online shops here in Germany (delivery time 5-7 days).

Direct Marketing in front of a DIY Store

“Plug & Save – Optimus” includes a 0.25kWh lithium-ion battery pack (+ battery management system), whereas “Plug & Save – Light” comes without a storage component. Additionally, there are several different mounting systems available for the DIY installation on flat roofs, on the ground, on walls, or as a balcony power plant.

The Price

In one online shop, they offered a 0.975kW / 0.5kWh balcony-set (2xOptimus + 3xLight-modules) for €2,805 (excluding the German VAT: €2360). That’s $3–3.60/W for a system that even includes storage.

A “Balcony Power Plant” in northern Germany

In Germany, this system is expensive compared to multi-kW, roof-mounted systems, even small ones below 10kW. But it’s still a great offer with a lot of value for all those who don’t own a roof.  Especially since this system could generate electricity below the residential electricity rate in Germany (roughly $0.32/kWh – including 50% taxes & fees).

And, of course, there are many other reasons to install solar, that go far beyond a simple cash incentive. For example, the simple concept of self-reliance, taking marketshare away from energy corporations, and protecting the enviroment / future of human kind. Small things….

But since money rules the world, here’s a little “What If” graphic putting the generation costs of this system into an American context.

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About the Author

is a close observer of the scientific, political and economic energy debate in Germany and around the globe. Inspired by the life's work of the renewable energy advocate Hermann Scheer, Thomas focuses on spreading information that showcase the possibilities & opportunities of a 100% renewable energy system. Though technology is key for this energy shift, he also looks at the socio-economic benefits and the political, as well as structural barriers.

  • Dimitar Mirchev

    That’s what I’m talking about.

    And this is only the beginning – these are going to be HUGE in the third world.

    • Abinash Shrestha

      I am part of the third word and we don’t have access to it.

      • Bob_Wallace

        What part of the less-developed world do you live in?

        There are micro-solar programs operating in many countries. I’m sure we’re a long way from reaching everyone. But that says that there are some good business opportunities for those with the drive and desire to start and run a business.

      • Dimitar Mirchev

        Than start selling them! 🙂

  • Is it UL listed for the states and how can it work if you are just plugging it into an outlet?

    • Ronald Brak

      I presume that If I plugged in the panels into one of my power points and the panels produced more power than I drew, my electricity meter would run backwards. And then I might be charged with tampering and fined $53,000.

  • These look like an option renters. If you have a small porch, you can then take it with you if you leave.

  • Jason

    There is an outfit out of Rhode island, USA, which offers a very similar “plug and play” product.

    If you’re interested, check ’em out at

  • jburt56

    This is going to be big.

  • Ronald Brak

    This type of “stealth solar” could be useful for thousands of Australians who have very small solar PV systems and are unable to upgrade them without losing their feed in tariff. Of course, in Australia, if the motivation to get a system like this is purely environmental it would currently make more economic sense to pay for an installed rooftop system for someone who is not locked into a tariff.

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