There's a new trend among today's eco-friendly, renewable energy conscious people. Many have become interested in solar panels. Solar panels for your home are a smart way to save out precious energy and for some, a way to do away with energy bills forever. There are still some technological issues that require further development before they will be a viable alternative for everyone, but progress is being made, and it won't be long before everyone will be able to if not eliminate their energy bills, at least lower them.

Until just a few years ago, solar panels were not efficient enough in converting the sun's limitless energy into electricity to be very practical. And that along with their enormous cost meant that they could never pay for themselves. But that is changing. Where in the past they could convert only about 1% of the energy that fell upon them into electricity, thanks to research and development, conversion factors of over 30% are common, with efficiencies of over 40% just beginning to be realized.

What this means is that it has now become practical for ordinary homeowners to install their own solar panels and run their homes without the need of a hookup to the local power monopoly. Of course, if you want to stay connected so that you can sell your extra energy back to the power company, that's fine too. And the best part of that is that the power company has no choice but to buy it from you. It's the law.

One of the reasons for some of the progress being made is advances thin film technology. The way this works is several layers of material are added to a solar cell. Each layer responds to a different frequency of light, so that more of the sun's light energy is being used to produce electricity from the same surface area. This results in much higher efficiency. That is, more electricity is made from the same square footage of solar cells as compared to older methods.

Did you know that it is possible to make your own solar panels for your home for much less than it costs to buy commercial solar cells? I found out how by searching the term, "make solar panel."Once you have your home made solar cells it becomes a relatively simple matter to assemble them into solar panels and start generating your electricity.