Today's economic circumstances are making it more important than ever to find ways to harness renewable energy sources. Thanks to advances in technology, solar panels for your home are becoming a way to save energy and even free yourself from the power company monopolies in some cases. Although more development will continue, there has been sufficient progress to indicate to an astute observer that the future is indeed bright. Soon, almost everyone will be able to use the sun to generate their own electricity.

It used to be that solar panels could convert only about 1% of the sun's energy that they were exposed to into electricity. That along with high costs of production meant that they could never pay for themselves, thus making them economically useless. However, research and development is now making solar panels possible that convert sunlight into electricity that are considerably more efficient. In 2009, the highest efficiencies reported were in the neighborhood of just under 15%. Clearly there is room for improvement. The older silicon designs had theoretical efficiency limits of around 50%, but none have been developed with that degree of functionality.

Thanks to these improvements in efficiency and improvement in production costs, more people are now able to use solar panels to generate their own electricity. The time of practical home electrical generation is here now. People now have a choice of two strategies to follow. The first is to become completely independent of the power companies and go off the grid entirely and be self-sufficient. The other is to stay on the power grid, and sell the extra electricity that they generate back to the power company. The beauty of this second strategy is that the power companies have no choice but to buy that extra electricity from those who generate it. They are required to do so by law.

One of the main reasons for the new more efficient, lower cost solar panels is a new design that utilizes something called thin film technology. The way this works is that multiple layers are added to the solar cells that make up the solar panels. Each layer responds to a different frequency of light energy by converting that particular frequency of light into electricity. By using many layers, each responding to a different frequency, more of the sunlight is used and less is wasted. In this way, solar panels are continuing to be developed with higher and higher efficiencies.

Another route that you can try is to try to make your own solar panels. These panels are not very efficient, but they do have the saving grace of being considerably less costly to make than commercially available solar panels cost to acquire.

Either way, solar panels for your home can make a dent in your energy bill, or in some cases even eliminate it entirely. It's certainly worth investigating. Don't you think?