Are solar panels becoming consumer electronics? While the majority of devices at the local Best Buy suck more and more of the energy in your home—albeit more efficiently if you opt for Energy Star products, the store is starting to offer solar arrays so homeowners can power their new toys and tools with the sun.
Through a partnership with SolarCity that’s now coming out of its pilot phase roughly 65 Best Buy shops in the U.S. now offer solar arrays to their customers. The company’s solar-as-a-service offerings allow homeowners to go solar with little or no up-front costs.
"The services we offer, it tends to be a conversational sale," SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive told The L.A. Times. "Meaning most people don't understand the value proposition until they spend two or three minutes listening to it, and the value proposition is cheaper, cleaner energy."
SolarCity said it is now offering its solar services in select stores in Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon. Oh yeah, and then there’s the award for going solar (a full listing of participating stores is available here: http://www.bestbuysolarcity.com/). “To celebrate the new offering, SolarCity will give every customer a $100 Best Buy gift card, valid for any other purchase in the store, if they sign up for solar service through Best Buy before Earth Day (April 22nd, 2014),” SolarCity said.
The company has kiosks manned by SolarCity representatives in each of the applicable stores. “As the first national consumer electronics retailer to offer a solar service option in-store, Best Buy is helping to make solar power more accessible,” the company said. “A SolarCity representative at each participating Best Buy location will be able to provide Best Buy customers with a satellite-based assessment of their home’s solar power potential in minutes.”
It’s not the first time that SolarCity and other companies that offer third-party ownership options (TPOs) like leases and power-purchase agreements have partnered with retail outlets. Indeed, last year SolarCity partnered with Home Depot at certain locations to offer its solar services there. Likewise Sungevity partnered with Lowe’s to offer its similar services.
As solar becomes more affordable and more popular for homeowners across the country and as companies continue to compete for marketshare it’s likely that solar installers will look for more diverse ways to reach homeowners. Vivint Solar, for instance, uses its direct sales approach and builds on the extensive customer list that use other home services such as security and energy efficiency services. Other solar companies have opened up showrooms and mall kiosks to reach customers.