I've done a pretty good amount of research with alternative energy sources. Solar is more efficient now than in the past, but it's still pretty inefficient. There are convection systems that you can use to heat water (which will heat your home and which can be used for bathing) that are entirely solar. Of course, you can get solar panels to charge batteries. But I would also recommend a combination wind turbine and/or microhydroelectric since solar only helps charge batteries in the daytime.
Every electricity-generating a/e system I've seen charges a large bank of batteries. An inverter changes the D/C to A/C and steps the voltage up to 110 so a home can run off it. Smarter systems will draw from the mains as needed.
What you should do sooner than later is determine how much power you use each day and what sort of setup you would need to meet that need. Even buying used solar panels, batteries, inverter, etc. you won't get away cheap; this is an effort that pays for itself over a few years.