Could Ikea one day be SolarCity and Sunpower’s biggest competition?

It hasn’t hit the U.S. but Ikea is going after the residential rooftop market in the United Kingdom. Ikea will be selling a 3.36 kilowatt system for a detached home for 5700 pounds ($9200) at all of its 17 stores. The package can also be financed. The reported payback period will be 7 years. The installation itself will be done in collaboration with Chinese energy player Hanergy. No DIY solar installations I guess on the top of you roof. It’s one thing to put together that dresser, quite another to put solar panels on a roof and hook them up to an electrical line.

But if this comes to the U.S. I think this could be a pretty big deal. One of the biggest costs for solar installers like SolarCity and Sunpower relates to marketing. Ikea has tremendous reach and a reputation for selling cheap at large scale. Tens of thousands of customers trust Ikea and move through the company’s stores every day. And even though a 3.36 kilowatt system strikes me as too small for the larger American home, seeing a system under 10K is very interesting because it’s such a reasonable price point.

Should Sunpower and SolarCity be worried. Not yet. Even if Ikea succeeds, it could help the companies in further legitimizing putting solar panels on your home’s roof. But no sane company really wants to go head to head with a company that has the marketing prowess and the customer relationships of Ikea.

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Adam Lesser

Analyst Gigaom Research

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