Saturday, August 16, 2008

Want Solar? Head to Sam's Club

Written by Hank Green

Getting a solar system installed on your house is decidedly complicated. There is no centralized system, only contractors who you may or may not be able to trust. Prices for installation vary wildly, as do prices for the modules themselves.

But in California, where things are getting a bit more consolidated and simplified, one retailer is trying to make solar easy. And it's Wal-Mart. Or, Sam's Club in nine California stores: Corona, Murrieta, Glendora, Ontario, La Habra, Chino, Long Beach, Fountain Valley, and Torrance.

The solar kiosks will hook consumers up with established solar sellers and installers including Borrego Solar and BP Solar. The kiosks also offer $100 off every kilowatt of installed solar power. Honestly, that's not very much, considering a kilowatt of installed solar can cost up to $10,000, but Sam's Club members expect savings they will have!

Borrego, however, is intent on selling the future savings of the system. According to them, a $35k system will save homeowners $96k over the life of the panels. I'm not arguing with their data (at least in California) but that's a big pill to swallow for a lot of folks. But exposing people to the potential benefits of solar is apparently half the battle.

We imagine that Wal-Mart gets some commission on sales that come through the Sam's Club kiosks, but the image it gives them may be more important in the end. But if these things will make it simpler and more common for Californians to buy personal home solar systems, we certainly aren't going to complain.

Original here

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