Gel nails are very similar to solar nails. The process is a little different. Both cost more than acrylic and hold up a little better and longer. I've always had mine done at the salon. The one time I tried them at home didn't work out so well.
The only thing that makes getting a gel manicure worth the little extra money is that it last about 10 days. Compared to regular nail polish, maybe a few days if not less. They set the gel using a uv light, so when your done there is no waiting for your nails to dry.