IKEA's Next Bright Idea: Sell Solar Panels

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IKEA has installed solar panels on nearly 300 stores worldwide, and will begin selling home solar panels in the U.K. in 2014. Photo: Volodymyr Kyrylyuk/Shutterstock

IKEA has installed solar panels on nearly 300 stores worldwide and will begin selling home solar panels in the U.K. in 2014. Photo: Volodymyr Kyrylyuk/Shutterstock

The world’s largest do-it-yourself home furnishings retailer is about to put something new on the shelves: solar panels. IKEA recently announced that it will begin selling solar panels in the U.K. through a partnership with Hanergy Solar Group, a Hong Kong–based company that produces thin film solar panels. But don’t worry, the panels won’t be a DIY adventure accompanied by IKEA’s famous illustrated, wordless instructions: Hanergy will also provide consultation, installation and maintenance services.

IKEA has already made its commitment to solar very clear, installing more than half a million panels on nearly 300 stores globally, including about 40 in the U.S. The company — which has previously shown its commitment to green initiatives by selling energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs and offering consumer recycling programs — says it will source all its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The U.K. provides a logical starting point for IKEA’s solar panel sales. Solar energy there has become more mainstream and installations have more than doubled since the end of 2011, according to government figures, thanks to a combination of lower prices and state subsidies. IKEA began a “test run” of solar panel sales in July, and based on the success of that program, decided to launch its solar panel division in mid-2014. Presently, the store sells about one solar panel system every day, according to IKEA.

The standard 3.36-kW systems will power an average three-bedroom home and slash its energy costs. The systems will sell for about $9,200, and it will take an average of seven years for the system to pay for itself, according to the information released by IKEA. A leasing option will also be available.

At this time, IKEA has not announced plans to begin solar panel sales in the U.S. However, in June, it announced plans to add two dozen charging stations for electric vehicles at U.S. IKEA locations, bringing the total number to 55.

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