The idea that light can be turned into electricity (the process is more scientifically known as the
photovoltaic effect) is nothing new, but the efficiency of the process has always been a little off.
In the beginning, the first solar cell had a conversion efficiency of 1%. This means that only 1% of the light that is absorbed is actually turned into electricity.
Today, that rate has come a long way, about 40%. It really isnt comparable (yet) to the way fossil fuels can generate electricity but there are a number of advantages to sourcing electricity from the sun than from fossil fuels, like being environmentally friendly and easily installed.
However, the initial expense in creating the solar panel array can be quite high, especially if one buys a prefabricated panel, and become a victim of shameless profiteering.
A single solar panel can go for around $500 to $800, with the most expensive parts being the solar cells (but only because you really need a lot of them).
After the solar panel is up and working, maintenance cost is quite low.
The problem is that an ordinary house will need more than just one panel.
For every problem, there is a solution. The answer to lowering the costs of installing a solar panel would be to build one from the ground up.
There are hundreds of Do It Yourself kits in the market, and these come in different sizes.
Should one feel doubtful about their building skills, they could always buy the smallest ones first, which are usually used as educational tools.
They cost a lot less and the task would not be as overwhelming.
The next size to try would be the type of solar panels that will power only specific equipment or appliances, like the water heater or the Jacuzzi.
After a while, the builder will probably get the hang of it and be churning out panels to cover the roof.
A school DIY kit often costs less than $100, and a full solar panel will cost about $200.
Even if they mess up one kit and be able to succeed only on the second kit, they would still be able to save at least $100, though it really is not as hard as it seems. With a bit of practice, anyone can do it.
Another advantage of building the solar panel is the satisfaction of being able to create something useful with ones own hands.
It may not be a work of art in the first few tries, but its really not a beauty contest anyway.