The whole solar power thing is a good example of misinformation gobbled up by the public.
First the solar cells: expensive compared to power output and bulky in the extreme. The expense can be directly attributed to corporatism, as the same
cells included in a low-power lawn light cost more than the light itself, even when buying the panels from surplus suppliers. The voltage produced by
a solar cell in direct sunlight is on the order of 0.5 volts; the higher voltage panels use several cells in series to achieve higher voltages (at the
expense of current). The maximum energy output of the sun at the Earth's surface is approximately 1366 W/m², and that includes all frequencies.
Solar cells absorb one range of those frequencies. Now consider that nothing is 100% efficient, especially solar cells, and you are lucky to get maybe
400 W of power from a square meter in direct sunlight.
Adjust that again for the angle of the sun and for the number of hours of nighttime you will encounter and you've got a perfect example of moving a
mountain with a spoon. Now remember that you have to store power to compensate not just for nighttime, but for rainy days, cloudy days, etc. Batteries
to store that kind of power are expensive and even deep-cycle lead-acid batteries only last a few years before they need replacing.
Second the AC power conundrum: We use AC power because transmitting DC power over long distances is an exercise in futility due to power losses (not
to mention the difficulty in changing voltages with DC power). The common household power in the US is a 60 Hz sine wave, dual-phase, 240 volts. The
first step is to transform low-voltage DC power into high-voltage AC power, and that means an inverter. Not the little boxes you plug into your car to
charge your laptop; an entire home can pull 44kW of power before tripping a 200-Amp main. Just a kitchen stove can draw a quarter of that, and the
water heater can pull over 4 kW by itself. A clothes dryer can top 6kW.
That's a lot of power to be converted. Someone mentioned Solectria inverters, and they will work fine. The
will peak at 198 Amps at
240V output... just enough to fully power a house. Look at the price in that link: almost $27,000. That's without batteries. It also requires a
minimum DC input of about 300V.... that's 600 solar cells arranged in a single series circuit in direct sunlight.
Thirdly, the tie-in to the grid. The grid uses AC power and is synchronized. In order to put power back in, you have to synchronize your power to the
grid. A 180 degree phase difference in AC power is a dead short. So yeah, you aren't allowed to short out the power company's grid and have to have
the correct equipment to perform that synchronization. And yeah, they're not going to pay you as much for your power as they charge for theirs. That
difference pays for the power lines, their equipment, the employees who keep the power up and working, and all the other business expenses. You want
paid the same as they charge? Provide the same service.
My advice if you want to get off the grid is to find something besides solar: running water, wind, geothermal thermoelectrics, something... and use
it. Separate your circuits into smaller ones so you can use a smaller inverter and give up the electric stove and clothes dryer and heat strips. Solar
is fine for isolated needs for low-voltage,low-power DC applications, but it is not easily scalable.
And give up trying to be a power company.