Firstly, once the installation is complete, power bills are much less, meaning long-term savings. Selling electricity to the grid is the other financial benefit - any extra electricity your panels generate can be directed into the grid, and you'll be paid for it. So, although installation costs can be very high (unless you make your own panels), over time, solar power certainly pays off.
In just 60 minutes the sun transmits to the earth's surface, more energy than the whole planet uses in a whole year. Passive solar power can be harnessed by designing (or redesigning) your home to make the most of the sun's light and heat. Two ways to benefit from the sun's heat: add an extra south-facing window and extra insulation to your roof - this will improve the amount of heat and make it last longer. When the house is initially built, or when it undergoes a major refurbishment - those are the times you could include these passive solar elements. Adding solar panels would be called active solar power.
Solar panels will still work with an east/west facing roof and are not reliant on a south/north one. Another option is a ground-mounted system, placed in an un-shaded area which is flat.
Poles which have been cemented into the ground hold ground-mounted solar panels. Lights and appliances used after dark can be powered by batteries which have been charged with surplus electricity produced by the solar panels throughout the day.
The sun delivers an overall average of 164 watts of solar energy to every square meter of the Earth's crust. In other words sufficient electrical power could be produced to power the entire planet, from solar panels covering just one square mile for every hundred in the Sahara desert. That's what makes solar power so extraordinary - we'll never use the amount that is available, it's more than enough. However, the energy the sun sends out arrives on the earth as a mixture of light and heat, and we can't use either of those directly to run a car or a computer. This is the point of solar panels, to take the sun's energy and adapt it into electricity.
Here's a step-by-step description of how sunlight is turned into electricity using solar panels. When the sun shines onto a solar cell, photons (light particles) flood the upper surface of the cell. Each light particle then carries its energy down through the cell. Electrons in the lower layer of the cell receive the power after it is transferred by the photons. The electrons, in turn, utilize this energy to make their way into the circuit. Our lights and appliances are driven by these electrons flowing through the circuit.
Countless homes are now fitted with home-made solar panels. DIY panels are a preferred option to avoid the high costs of solar system installation. Lots of people find they're easier and less complicated than they may have thought. With the right instruction guide, your home-made solar panels will be safe and very effective. Going with the DIY solar panel option means not just long-term utility bill savings, but it's a way to save thousands of dollars in initial outlay.
Using sun panels can help to reduce your carbon footprint since solar electricity is green (renewable) power and does not release harmful carbon dioxide (CO2) or other pollutants. Around 2650 pounds of CO2 per year can be saved by a typical home solar power system, which works out to about 30 tons over its lifetime. The next industrial revolution will be based on these clean green technologies, according to Tony Juniper, director - Friends of the Earth.
DIY Solar Panels and Windmills Building Guides
Earth 4 Energy
Make your own solar panels or wind turbine.
More info here
Home Made Power Plant
There are some other guides for DIY wind and solar generators, but all of those that I've read don't get into the same details.
More info here