Ikea To Carry Solar Panels In UK Stores

Ikea, which has put oodles of solar panels on top of its buildings, now wants to sell you panels for your own house.

This is a United Kingdom thing, right now at least, as Ikea rolls out solar panels in 17 stores over the next 10 months, according to a variety of reports. But the company said it could spread if it goes well.

ikea solar

image via Ikea

In some ways, this isn’t big news. In addition to its vast use of solar power, Ikea in recent years has launched a collection of home lighting solution powered by the sun and wind, and vowed that by 2016 it will sell only LED bulbs and lamps.

Plus, in the United States at least, it’s not like it’s hard to find a place to buy solar panels. Home Depot carries them – and there are nearly 2,000 Home Depots in the country.

But Ikea is a furniture store, not a home improvement warehouse, and we can safely say that Ikea is more a trendsetter – or at least social barometer – than Home Depot. So in that sense, you could view this is a sign of solar PV becoming an entrenched part of the culture.

“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.

Hanergy is the Chinese company whose thin-film panels (made in Germany, according to Reuters) Ikea is selling. And no, unlike most everything else at Ikea, the panels won’t be sold in a box for you to tote home and cobble together yourself. Instead, for £5,700 ($9,200) for a 3.36-kilowatt system, buyers get an initial consultancy, installation, maintenance and ongoing energy monitoring. Financing is also available.

The U.K. doesn’t have a lot of sunshine, particularly outside its southern latitudes, but it does have a feed-in tariff that can help make a home solar system economically viable.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.