One of the biggest misconceptions about the "green power" movement is that the whole process of converting over to an alternative energy source has to be expensive. Massively expensive. Since it's still such a "new" technology, and so advanced, at least according to some, then it's only accessible to the people with vast amounts of money.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. When converting a home to solar power, whether it's full "off the grid" power, or supplementing the energy you get from the electric company to reduce costs, cheap solar panels are out there and waiting for you to invest in them.
The first thing you need to throw away is the idea that "cheap" is the same as low quality. On the contrary, there are various reasons that a company might be able to sell quality solar panels at a lesser cost. They might have a special deal with the manufacturer that allows them to pay a lower price, so they pass the savings on to you. They might be overstocked so they want to clear out excess inventory. They might have a shipment of newer and more advanced panels coming in, so they want to clear old the older stock to make room. Any way you slice it, it means saving you money.
Used Solar Panels
Another way of finding cheap solar panels is scour the internet and your local phone book for used panels. People upgrade technology all the time, and solar panels are no different. They might trade them in as part of a deal in getting their new ones, or they could sell the old ones once they upgrade just to get some money back. Either way, again, more money you save. And if you think you're going to buy a lemon just because it's used, realize this: dealers need to make sure that technology of this kind works like it should, because returns are bad for business. It's not like returning a toy to Wal-mart, this is an investment for a dealer.
Also, used solar panels will generally be bigger than modern ones, since the solar panels of yesteryear were build much bigger than they are now. However, if you have the real estate on your roof or in your back yard, then going the used route can be a good bet. More than likely, the previous owners took care of the solar panels so they could get as much quality power out of them as they could. Taking care of something makes for better quality.
Thin Film Panels
In the future, thin film solar panels will drive the prices down even farther. These are panels that are made much like a newspaper. A sheet of steel or plastic is sprayed with silicon or other such material. This material can replace a steel roof or shingles, and some varieties can even be overlaid on a window without any loss of visibility. As technology advances and gets better, it becomes smaller, and solar panels are following that trend. You can expect prices to go down further in the next decade.
With a little checking around, you can begin the process of converting your home into a solar paradise for less than you think by installing cheap solar panels, and your wallet will thank you for it.