Thought I might toss my two penny's worth in here.
I am 100% off-grid, have been for coming up on 5 years. I have 8.8kw/hr of solar panels installed (that's 36 of them) and have never had a problem with the panels themselves. The one annoyance (which Al Gore never seems to mention) is the royal Pain in the Ass it is to clean snow off of them. Mine are a ground mount so it's not terribly difficult, but one is quite exhausted by the time one is done with it.
My biggest problems with the system have been two other components -- energy storage (batteries) and energy usage (the house). A lesser problem has been backup energy generation (a generator) for when snow/clouds prevent the system from harvesting much from the sun.
On the usage side I've been on a crusade to replace all of my many incandescent and CFL lights with LEDs and am now on the downhill side of that struggle. There's a lot more work than I thought there would be to swap out some types of bulbs (such as tube CFLs) but it's doable with a bit of electrical knowledge. Certainly my mother wouldn't be able to manage it, but I'm relatively handy with such things so other than being annoying working over one's head it hasn't been too bad. I expect to have all 225 bulbs in the house (big house) replaced by year's end.
Backup generators have been a bit of a mixed bag for me. My first generator got sold out from under me (I didn't own it....long story) and my second worked great for about a year before its stupid oil filter fell off its holder and it seized up. Grrrr. My third worked for about 6 months and then began throwing bizarre errors; the techs had to nearly completely disassemble it to discover that the rotor was in slightly crooked and had damaged the stator windings. I'm now on my FOURTH generator in five years and genuinely hoping I won't have to deal with any more for a long, long time. I can't blame this on the system overall, though it is indicative of the fragile nature of the hardware.
The truly big problem has been the batteries. They 100% absolutely have been nothing but a massive PITA since about 6 months in. The first problem was I didn't really have enough amp-hour capacity (675AH) -- a mistake my solar guy made -- so I quickly bought another set to up my capacity to 1350 AH. The problem then was that these were Gel batteries, and Gel batteries are both charging sensitive and don't like being drawn down to 50% or so every night as I was doing. As a result they quickly began to degrade, and despite some efforts to rejuvenate them, rotate them around, etc. they got so bad that by last October I literally only had three actually holding power into the night. I temporarily replaced them all with 8 L-16 lead acids which are honestly doing a very fine job and got me through the winter, but I decided the only way to solve this problem was to go for gross overkill -- and so I've ordered a 2300AH battery stack. It arrives in a couple of weeks, and I anticipate that once it's operational that 4th generator won't get a lot of use. Fingers crossed!
Honestly if I wasn't a tech guy and willing to work at it my wife and mother would have been hosed about a year after we moved in. I've finally gotten tired of spending all my spare time up there which is why I bought the big-ass battery stack, and at expected usage levels that should be good for 25-30 years.
Solar is a great technology but if you're doing anything at all besides just putting them on your roof to feed power into the grid during the day and pull power from the grid during the night it'll be a lot more work than you probably think. My older neighbors down below me are already complaining about how much their generator has been running and there are a couple of obvious reasons for that -- their panels are on their roof (so they can't get the snow off) and their batteries are lead acid (which means they need to be inspected and refilled with distilled water so often, which I'm wondering how much they are doing). Joe Sixpack would have similar problems -- it would work great for a year or so and then Stuff Would Happen.
So there ya go. My experience anyway.