I have been in the solar field for 14 years and lived off-grid
very comfortably for the last four years. With a properly designed system
there are few compromises to make. Learn your loads and your limits.
Batteries have been the weak part of the system and L-ion batteries are
head and shoulders better than FLA (flooded lead acid) much easier to
maintain, much deeper depth of discharge before damaging the batteries,
and most importantly, up to 3-5,000 cycle-lives (10+ years).
Use common sense with them. Don't short circuit the terminals, charge and
discharge residential L-ion batteries at a capacity/2 (C over 2 hours) rate or less. Cars
and planes have a cooling system that permits faster rates. Slow rates
are easy with solar charging.
Inverters make AC power from DC and determine the rate at which you can power devices.
Batteries determine the overall capacity of your system in kWh. FLA batteries can be discharged to 50% depth of discharge and remain viable for 3-5 years. Lifetime depends on caring for them, keeping plates covered with electrolyte, using distilled water to refill them, and don't allow ANY batteries to
remain at a low state of charge for long periods of time.
Use LPG, propane, or natural gas for heat applications, furnace, water heater, clothes drier, or cooking as much as possible. Fossil fuels are still more cost effective than electricity for heat. Solar is good for water heating and space heating but needs backup for cloudy days. Living off-grid requires a generator backup for cloudy periods.
Buy the most efficient appliances you can find, like LED lights. Seal windows and doors as tightly as possible. Have as much insulation as is practical. We use 13-17 kWh per day, even with a big-screen TV, two full sets of office equipment, and a booster pump for well water.
The Powerwall will make living without grid power much more practical, and early adopters will begin to erode the nearly 100% market share of traditional central power plants. US utilities complain about >5% penetration of solar as a "non-dispatchable" (intermittent) energy supply while Germany and Denmark already have 30% penetration.
There is plenty to learn.