When the space and resources are available, your best bet for maximum solar energy gathering is a panel system with sun tracking. This type of system tracks the sun's movement across the entire day, and even the entire year. This may cost you a little more at first, but the results in the end are worth it.
DIY – Do it yourself solar elipse viewing glasses. NOTE: This is NOT tinfoil. Please make sure you are using a proper solar viewing film from an astronomy store.
Cars that operate on solar power can cut down on carbon emissions a lot, but this system is not perfect yet. Having said that, small power machines that run on solar energy are available. Solar powered generators can be purchased, and are a great source of energy in emergencies.
Keep your solar panels out of the shade. It might seem obvious, but your solar panels do need sun. Make sure that you are not installing them in the shade. Trim back the branches on surrounding trees if you need to. Failing to do so could cost you more than half your energy output.