The Home Depot now sells solar—and Colorado’s Sunflower Solar has the contract to install it. The program, which launched in August, 2007, is a three-way partnership: The Home Depot sells the package, BP supplies the panels, and Sunflower Solar installs them.
Sunflower has established this partnership at 17 Denver Metro Home Depot locations and other independent hardware stores. Co-Founder Will Sisk says there has been little competition for such contracts so far. But given their success, it appears likely that Sunflower is on the front end of a new trend.
“There’s a lot of relationship building involved,” notes Sisk. Standing contracts don’t work for every installer’s business model, especially since most of Colorado’s photovoltaic installers are still, essentially, start-ups.
The Home Depot program “shows how mainstream solar has been getting,” Sisk emphasizes—“and that’s something everyone in the solar industry has been waiting for.” Cells that turn light into electricity have been around for more than a century. First employed in only the most specialized uses, like the spacecraft, photovoltaics then moved into remote and off-grid markets. Today, we are witnessing solar’s move beyond early adopters and emergence into grid-tied, metropolitan applications everywhere.
It is stores like The Home Depot who will supply the mainstream revolution.
Some solar advocates may be dismayed at installers’ affiliations with big box stores, which have large ecological footprints. But, says Sisk, “our mission is to build more PV. We’re willing to work with stores like the Home Depot.”
“I was very happy to be shopping at Home Depot,” says homeowner Nancy Taddiken. Taddiken had thought about solar before, but dismissed it. When she found it at Home Depot, she found the same price the installers charged directly—only this time, it came with a 12-month, zero-interest loan.
Taddiken says she did not know at the time she purchased that Sunflower Solar would be her installers. Sunflower had been her top choice among installers when initially researching solar.
Sunflower has not seen groundbreaking sales increases from its partnerships, yet. But BP Solar Vice President of Sales and Marketing Geoff Slavin reports, “the BP Solar Home Solutions program, through The Home Depot, has become the foremost retail program for solar in the U.S.”
The Home Depot solar packages are also available in select stores in California, New Jersey, Arizona, Texas, and New York.
Sunflower Solar’s Kelly Whiteford poses with a 5.6 kW photovoltaic array purchased through the Solar Home Solutions program at The Home Depot. The Boulder, CO home is for sale (http://3390eastmanave.blogspot.com/) you can learn more about going solar in our Colorado Solar Guide