Welp, I've been employed in the solar
There's some realities people need to face going in. First is that it will probably take 15 years for these things to pay themselves off, not 12 as a lot of the hucksters are claiming. A lot of those return on investment figures are calculated using peak solar output and fudged energy rates and assume that none of the components will crap out during that time - and that is one BIG ass assumption!
The average solar module degrades over time, approx. 1% per year. In 20 years your string or array will be putting out 80% of the energy it does today at peak sunshine at noon - it'll taper off after that. The inverters - which convert the DC electricity generated by the panel to AC - generally crap out in 10~15 years. Most designs use one for every two panels - so do the math on that.
Payoff time is based on energy savings calculated by how much electricity will be pushed back on to the grid while you are at work and not using electricity. The idea is that those cells will still be producing voltage, and you will be credited for energy that, in effect, you are 'selling back' to the power company. That is how it works in a lot of places - except of course, the socialist hives like California. The greenies there just mandated that every new house built must now have solar panels when it is built. The commies there mandated that the state will no longer credit solar producers for the energy they push back on to the public grid! (I love it when leftist f-tards stab each other in the back).
Things get even more grim for the off-grid types: they need to store solar energy, so that means batteries. Very, very expensive batteries, with their own service life and costs. If you have a generator to back up the solar, you will need more switch gear to assure that the solar doesn't push power back onto the gen. $$$Ka-ching$$$ If you want to store enough energy to run your house for two or three days, you will need enough batteries to fill your average medium sized (and properly ventilated) garden shed. Once you are running on batteries, you can forget about running your microwave, your laundry machines, and other energy hog appliances.
The way it looks to me is that these systems are nothing more than a way for sanctimonious greentards to feel good about themselves, keep up with the greasy hippies next door, and signal their environmental virtue. They are the empty headed chattering skulls that will scream about the evils of oil, gas and tar sands - but have never seen a lithium mine.
I deal every day with rabid greentards and leftist meat holes in this business though - and it makes me feel good to fleece them because I am entirely honest in my dealings with them: they can do the math as easily as I can. They can do the research as easily as I can. I tell no lies, I lay it out and they are the ones that have to make the decision to buy. But most are not interested one iota in the environment - they are interested in keeping up with the times and appearances. You don't actually have to care about the environment - you just have to look like you care! HAR HAR HAR! I admit though, I see the fun in all this. Pushing technology to it's limits, and finding new ways to live frugally and responsibly are good things in the long run. And who knows where this will go... maybe one day we will have effective cheap alternate clean energy. But so far, alternate energy is just a way for rich stupid people to waste money. None of this is opinion, the facts, figures and math are all public record.
Of course, that won't sit well with the usual suspects - but who cares what they think?