Eco-Living Magazine

IKEA to Sell Solar (Assembly Required)

Posted on the 07 October 2013 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev


Though best known for selling cheap, unassembled furniture, IKEA will soon begin selling solar panels at 17 of its U.K.-based stores. The limited rollout is due to what the company sees as limited and unpredictable demand, even in markets where solar panels are popular. While the U.K. isn’t exactly known for being sunny, IKEA believes it’s worth taking a shot at, in part because of the region’s solar subsidies.

While there’s a large potential market for solar panels, the Wall Street Journal reports that the biggest obstacles will be overcoming perceptions that solar panels are ugly and, of course, the cost. According to the Guardian, the minimum purchase is 18 thin-film PV panels for £5,700 (slightly more than $9,200).  As a general reference, that figure is more than 100 times the average spend-per-visit at IKEA stores in Sweden. While IKEA would like to make a “real business” out of selling solar panels, the company is also planning to sell them at lower margins, which has so far scared off its competitors.

On the upside, IKEA is advertising the solar panels as having an ROI of just 7 years, though it’s unclear how closely this is tied to the U.K.’s notoriously dreary and rainy weather. Fortunately, IKEA will direct customers to use Google Maps to see what their particular savings might look like. And while IKEA might trust you to assemble a night stand, they don’t trust you to install your own solar panels. An installation service will be arranged by IKEA, though it appears it will cost extra.

I hope IKEA’s venture pays off, but I’m not completely convinced. Sure, lots of people buy big screen TVs and appliances at Best Buy and Walmart, but it’s still a bit strange to me that someone ready to cough up nearly $10,000 for solar panels would do so in an IKEA store rather than just order them online directly from the manufacturer. Then again, maybe I’m completely wrong.


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