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How good a deal are solar panels from Ikea?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 October 2013 at 10:46 am

Famous for flat-pack furniture and its clean, Scandinavian design, Ikea is a surprise entrant into the solar PV market. With 18 massive stores in the UK it's known for value for money household goods (some would say cheap) and jokes about Allen keys. So would you trust it to sell you solar panels?

Well the good news is that Allen keys are not supplied with the solar panels. The systems are designed and installed by MCS accredited installers in line with the regulations, and will be eligible for the feed-in tariff.

It's not new for major retailers to sell solar panels. Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury and others have been offering them for a while. The business model has generally been be to outsource the whole process while generating leads in their stores and on their websites.

Ikea too is doing this in partnership. However, its partner is with Hanergy, a large Chinese manufacturer of solar panels. Hanergy recently took over Engensa, one of the larger domestic solar installation companies in the UK. By keeping everything from manufacturing through to sales in house, it can keep its costs lower than the competition.

What does it cost?

A standard 3.36kW solar PV system will cost £5,700 (including VAT) if you are a member of Ikea's loyalty scheme (which is free to join).

How does that compare with the market?

For this size of installation you can pay anything between £4,500 and £10,000. At the lower end of the scale you will get unbranded Chinese panels and inverter of dubious quality. The warranties on these will probably leave you footing the bill to have them removed and sent back to China if anything goes wrong. At the top end of the price range, you're probably being ripped off.

As Chris Jardine explains in his series which solar panels are best, there's a lot more to choosing solar panels than just price. Firstly, do you trust the installer to do a good job? Secondly, what kind of equipment to you want. Is cheap, cheerful and unreliable like the a Fiat Panda, slick and fast like a Porsche or a nice safe Volvo? As with everything, you get what you pay for. 

The exception to this is the £10,000 system which you've probably bought because some smooth, persistant salesman tricked (or bullied) you into it. These tend to be the kind of people who don't bother your pretty head with kilowatts, but sell by number of panels - and often don't bother to tell you what brand of panels they are offering. Avoiding this is a selling point for the Ikea model. As Toby Ferenczi, co-CEO of Hanergy Solar UK says "It takes the sale out of living rooms. There are no pushy sales".

How can they give me a quote without seeing my home?

Since the advent of Google Earth, it's easy to have a look at the outside of a property online, and many companies do use it in their quoting. Hanergy's advisors will design your system in the store, but the quote will be subject to survey. 

Are solar panels available in all Ikea stores?

Not yet. Advisors are currently working in the Southampton and Lakeside stores, and they will be rolled out to all the stores over the next 10 months. Alternatively you can register interest or get a free estimate by visiting www.hanergy.co.uk/go-solar

Does Hanergy employ the installers?

It employs some and contracts out to others. It says that it keeps a strict eye on quality of service, with a "vigorous tender process and strict service level agreemements which [Hanergy] check and monitor". They also do regular site visits to check quality and ask customers for their feedback.

Is IKEA's entry into the market a good thing?

One of the biggest barriers to investment in solar PV recently has been awareness. People who were interested at the height of the solar boom at the end of 2011 have given up, thinking (wrongly) that it's no longer a good investment. Ikea's entry into the market has been covered in most newspapers and on the radio, which has brought a welcome bit of attention to domestic solar. Solar advisors in stores will also help to get the message across that solar PV is for everyone. However, as always, we still recommend that you get three quotes and consider more than just the price when you make your decision.

More information about solar PV on YouGen

YouGen guide to solar PV

YouGen guide to the feed-in tariff

10 tips for choosing a good solar installer

How do I get the most out of my solar panels?

Which solar panels are best

Photo Credit: slimmer_jimmer via Compfight cc   By

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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Comments

9 comments - read them below or add one

Rafal Sobczak

Rafal SobczakComment left on: 3 December 2015 at 1:20 pm

Hi,

I would like to just warn all of you against very poor installation service from Hanergy. As much as you can question the efficiency and cost of the ikea/hanergy deal it is often forgotten the afterservice.

In this case there isn't any. just only one month after installation my roof is falling apart. Ikeas has stopped the cooperation with Hanergy and Hanergy is not responsive to the problem.

I think it is an important and forgotten factor when choosing your installation to be sure that it is put up by a well rated tradesman. Unfortunetly there isn't one working for Ikea/ Hanergy.

Rafal

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MikelEthen

MikelEthenComment left on: 28 April 2015 at 11:07 am

Sun based is something to be thankful for and they appear to be really all around evaluated yet as they propose know for like framework which isn't generally simple. There are some great sites around for getting for sunlight based including SAVEONSOLAR  which gets great audits.

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SaveUKEnergy

SaveUKEnergyComment left on: 5 January 2015 at 1:10 pm

Ikea promoting Solar is a good thing and they seem pretty well priced but as they suggest you'll only know how good if you get a few quotes for a like for like system which isn't always easy. There are some good websites around for getting MCS quotes  for solar including SOLARGUIDE  which gets good reviews.

solarguide Solar is sill the best value return investment and most reliable in terms of clean energy production - no brainer if you have the cash.

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Jack Frost

Jack FrostComment left on: 26 July 2014 at 9:55 am

As a marketing consultant in Total Energy Installations, Janeymac, there is no need of protection for Solar panels. We have served our installation services around the UK and with the proper safety aspects.


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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 6 January 2014 at 10:28 am

Hi Janeymac

The feed-in tariff is not available in Northern Ireland. There is an incentive called NIROC instead. You can find out more about it here

I've not heard of panels needing protection from airborne debris, but if you have unusual heavy items blowing around in your area, it maybe worth asking installers about.

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janeymac

janeymacComment left on: 31 December 2013 at 12:13 am

does the feedin tarriff apply in Northern Ireland?

do the panels need protection form airborne debis?

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 31 October 2013 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for your feedback Peter. IKEA has made a curious choice to go with thin film panels - and for those with a small available roof space, it will always be a problem.

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peterglass

peterglassComment left on: 31 October 2013 at 12:14 pm

I had a quote from Ikea early September for a 2.16kw system with an SMA invertor for £3600 which was a very attractive price. This was at the very start of the Ikea Solar project and they still appeared to be sorting out some of their systems and proceedures. The sales and project are managed by Hanergy and was told the site survey and installation was outsourced via Solar Century. They have an online interactive portal for the customer/ installer to track the installation and store all the relevant documents for the life of the system. Saves setting up and keeping track on your own computer.

Although I would have been happy to have proceeded to order the system it fell down on the fact that the thin film panels, due to their lower output could not meet my minimum power I specified on the area available. 

I have now installed a system with Panasonic panels at of course a higher price.

The thin film panels look good but are heavy.

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Rudge Energy

Rudge EnergyComment left on: 7 October 2013 at 6:05 pm

Thanks for the background. So, it looks like the IKEA solar offer is just the same as any other large retailer. Lead generation either in store or online, then send it all off to a third party company to take over.

Its not an IKEA Solar PV system after all!. Though I must say the installed cost is about normal for a starting cost.

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