There are an increasing number of small scale solar collectors on the market. Harbor Freight markets a popular kit, and even Home Depot and Costco have entered the market. The way those kits work is that a solar panel is attached to a deep cycle battery. After the battery is charged, an inverter is hooked to the battery to convert the DC power to AC, and you utilize the power in whatever manner you choose.
I'd like to find a relatively high efficiency kit with good durability which can be sold in the $200 range. I'm in the process of contacting wholesalers now. While I don't want to get my hopes up too much, that's a product I could get behind enthusiatically. It isn't a perfect product (batteries wear out and have to be replaced, cloud cover can make them inefficient, and to provide electricity for the average American household one would have to have an unrealistic number of these kits). But it's a good way to introduce people to the advantages of solar energy.
So I'm continuing to work on it.