Living without connection to electric grid was new to me 4 years ago, but I took the leap of faith and moved to the forestland with no utility grid. Now I'm very happy and would not go back to grid. Yes, it has its downsides and it was a bit hard to get used to "I might run out of electricity, go and check battery levels".
I've also upgraded and rebuilt my system adding PV panels and batteries. I started with AGM (lead+gel) batteries and switched to Li-ion later on.
Here's a video about my set up and my thoughts about off-grid living:
The hardest part is to figure out how much power do you need. To calculate that, you need to make a list of electric appliances you use, add their power requirement and approx. time you use it per day. For example Diswasher > 1,5 kW > 1h = 1,5 kWh per day. When you sum those kWh's you can ask the supplier of the solar system to quote you. The rule of thumb is that your power inverter should be 1,5 times more powerful than a peak demand and battery bank should provide energy for 48 hours of normal usage.
I have 4 kW inverter, 1,5 kW of PV panels and battery bank storing 5 kWh. I need to add some more batteries as batteries will get fully charged by noon if there is sunny day.
For dark winter days I have 6 kW diesel generator to charge my batteries.

Solar PV panels have been around for quite some years now and many created a lot of interest. Still many people abandon the idea after some research. Why? In the minds of many there's an overly simplified picture of going solar: just get the panels on the roof. Unfortunately this is the easiest part of the process. Hardest part is dimensioning the system, choosing the right set of equipment ( panels > inverter/charger > battery bank) and most of all - getting used to the idea that electricity is NOT the infinite source. You might run out of it sometimes.

Now you've probably understood that going solar is not easy. So why should you do it? Here are some points:
  • Independence from grid companies
  • No power outages
  • No electricity bills
  • Higher energy rating on the new built home
  • Warm, fuzzy feeling from using green energy
  • Security from rising energy prices