Sept. 30, 2013 -- Ikea is selling solar panels to customers in a dramatic shift for the Swedish do-it-yourself furniture store.
The company has a roll-out plan for the panels in its UK stores. "We will evaluate the success of the UK roll out before making this decision on a market-by-market basis about rolling out in other countries," an Ikea spokesperson said.
The home furnishings chain, known for its simple, cheap furniture, said it hopes to make solar energy an "affordable reality" for everyone. Customers can purchase a standard 3.36kW photovoltaic (PV) system for a semi-detached home for as little as £5700, or about $9,200, or choose a solar finance package and pay nothing upfront.
The company says the solar panels resemble flat screen televisions. But don't expect Ikea's wordless step-by-step directions and wooden pegs to hold the equipment on top of your house.
Full installation is offered in collaboration with Chinese energy giant Hanergy, Ikea says. "Highly trained Solar Advisors" will design a system for a home using a simulation tool from the store. Then there is a "straightforward nine-step installation process, fully managed by a personalized Hanergy Web Portal."
The service will be rolled out in all 17 Ikea stores in the United Kingdom in the next 10 months.
A pilot program began in July in Ikea's Lakeside store in the U.K., where a solar panel system is now sold almost every day, Ikea said.
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"We know that our customers want to live more sustainably and we hope working with Hanergy to make solar panels affordable and easily available helps them do just that," said Joanna Yarrow, head of sustainability IKEA UK and Ireland, in a statement.
Yarrow points to evidence that shows that installing solar panels allows homeowners to cut their energy bills by up to 50 percent, while it can take an average of seven years to recoup the money spent on the solar units.
"We want to make a greener, more sustainable way of life attractive and easy for as many people as possible, so in addition to our collaboration with Hanergy, we're dedicated to expanding our range of sustainable products that help customers save energy, water and sort waste four-fold by 2020," she said.