Lowe's, the home-improvement chain, will begin selling do-it-yourself, 40-pound solar panels nationwide for $895 each.

The panels are designed by Akeena Solar, Inc., based in Los Gatos, Calif. Akeena says installation is doable for a novice, but applying for government and utility permits might take some expertise.

You put solar panels on your roof without a permit, bad things (will) happen to you, said Jeff Wolfe, CEO of solar installer groSolar. The utility could shut off the power.

Akeena panels produce 175 watts of electricity, enough to power a flat-screen TV. Most purchasers will want more than one. Lowe's also is offering software that allows homeowners to use their home computers to monitor the performance of each panel.
Source: Associated Press, Chris Kahn (12/10/2009)