Aldi balcony power plant: That’s why we wouldn’t buy it
The hype surrounding small photovoltaic systems with an output power of up to 600 watts has been unbroken for a year now. The sets have been available in hardware stores or in the online shops of discounters for a few months now. On June 1, however, there is another premiere: Aldi-Nord then wants to sell a balcony power plant – and unlike its competitor Netto, who only offers the systems in the online shop, Aldi has them on the market. For the package price of 469 euros, everything you need for installation and commissioning on the balcony railing should be included.
scope of delivery
The Aldi package includes two 116 × 75 centimeter solar modules with 175 watts each (together 350 watts peak, peak power), matching MC4 extensions, a mounting kit for balcony railings and a 600 watt inverter with a 5 meter cable. Aldi is anticipating the current debate about the standard-compliant connection and is equipping its set with a protective contact plug that does not yet conform to the standard and fits into typical outdoor sockets.
The inverter comes from the US manufacturer NEP and, according to Aldi, offers free yield monitoring via the NEPViewer smartphone app for iOS and Android. However, there must be WLAN reception at the installation site for this to work. Aldi does not give the specific name of the device in the online description, but the importer calls the name “MMI 600”. A certificate of conformity according to VDE-AR-N 4105:2018 from TÜV-Süd also exists for the device. The VDE-AR-N 4105 is the connection guideline currently valid in Germany for power generation systems – including solar inverters.
Short and opaque
However, the complete package does not appear to be completely balanced. Aldi only includes two 175-watt solar modules with the 600-watt inverter. The inverter is only used to half capacity, and the achievable 350 watt output power does not do justice to the price either. With a view to other offers, 300 to 350 euros would be appropriate. In its offer, Aldi points out that other modules will later become available as individual parts – but only in the online shop.
More problematic: Where the solar modules come from and who offers a 25-year performance guarantee remains vague despite lengthy research. Aldi states that the set was put together by “Solovoltaik”. It is only the brand name of the German import company monolith GmbH, not a manufacturer of photovoltaic modules. Solovoltaik stickers are attached to the back of the panels – at least on Aldi’s website.
The guarantee information in the Aldi offer is just as unclear: 25-year performance guarantee on the solar modules, 10 years on material and workmanship, but only 3 years “manufacturer’s guarantee”. To what extent the latter differs from the other guarantees and who to contact in the event of an emergency is not clear enough for us.
According to the label, the manufacturer of the solar module is “Solovoltaik”. However, the brand belongs to an import company and not a module manufacturer.
Balcony power plants are not toys and also not something that you should buy in passing in a discount store. The excessive price for a 350-watt system and the opaque manufacturer structure for the solar module are good reasons for us not to hit the Aldi offer. The offer on the market is only interesting for customers who have difficulties installing bulky modules.
You should also invest some brain power in a small photovoltaic system and do some research before buying and installing it. The bid for the solar modules in particular needs to be well thought out, after all, they have to survive decades in the sun so that the investment is really worthwhile. We have summarized in detail which planning steps are important here. (amo)
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