The first silicon solar cell, the precursor of all solar-powered technologies, was produced by Bell Laboratories in 1954. It was claimed to be “the beginning of a new era, leading eventually to the realization of one of mankind’s most cherished dreams — the harnessing of the almost limitless energy of the sun for the uses of civilization” by The New York Times (April 26, 1954).
As exciting as the technology may appear, it has taken us almost half a century to lower the cost so that large scale deployment becomes commercially viable. During the last decade, solar-powered homes have changed from a thing of rarity to common scenes. The entire solar energy for home system is actually not particularly complex. It includes (1) the solar panel module, which collect the sunlight and turn it into electricity; (2) the DC/AC converter, which converts the DC into grid-compatible AC power (used by household appliances); (3) various switches for safety reasons; and (4) the utility meter, if the solar power system is connected to grid (this allows you to sell unused solar energy back to the electricity company).