While a complete solar electrical system for the home usually requires a considerable investment, there are still other solar power solutions which are much easier to implement.
Solar lights are relatively simple to acquire and install, and are powered by clean energy. Since they usually require no wiring, they are very simple to set up.
Solar garden lights (or solar landscape lights) are one example of this. Solar garden lights have solar panels embedded into them at the top, facing the sun. Of course one drawback of these is that they might not stay lit forever. The amount of sun they receive will influence how long they last. The specifications of these lights can give you some idea of how long they will stay lit in the dark. But 8-12 hours is not an unusual estimate for a reasonably priced light, which should be plenty of time to get through the night in most circumstances.
Furthermore, these lights usually have sensors so that they turn on automatically at dusk and turn off when the sun starts shining again. This means that you don't have to run your lights the whole night through, if you don't need to. Motion sensors are also used in some solar lights, such as those that would be placed along pathways or near the front door, so that the lights turn on when an person or animal is present. This is good for security, and its also good for just seeing where you are going when you walk in a garden or path, or approach a home in the dark.
Solar lighting can also be used in Christmas lights. One might not think that December is the best time of year to utilize solar energy, but I suppose Christmas lights don't require too much voltage. Since solar powered Christmas lights are not hard to find.
Solar powered spotlights and floodlights are used in gardens and landscaping, among other things. These are used to set out and highlight the best features of a garden or landscape, and again, no wiring required means they are much easier to install than electrical lights. Not to mention cleaner and cheaper.
Again, with solar powered lights, one disadvantage can be the fact that they only stay on for as long as their stored solar electricity permits. In most cases, however, they should last throughout the night if they are receiving sufficient solar energy during the day. You could run into trouble if they are placed in a shady area or if you live in a cloudy climate. They will probably still work, but not as well. Snow can also block sunlight when it covers any photovoltaic surface. But solar lights are often sloped in such a way as to let snow fall off of them more easily.
There are plenty of other uses for solar lighting. And they aren't all for the home owner.
Street lights can be run with solar power. It will be interesting to see how that concept develops, as the world turns its attention more and more toward clean alternative energy solutions. Admittedly, it would be dangerous if street lights went out early, on days when the power of the sun wasn't sufficient.
But a simple solution would be to use a hybrid system, with a backup battery, a backup power generator, or the like. That way, if the energy from the sun weren't sufficient one day, the lights would continue to shine nevertheless.
For more information on Solar Lighting and how it works, see this article on Solar Lights
Anna Williams is a photographer and a traveler, with an interest in green energy solutions. She educates others online, on alternative energy and solar power solutions.