The two PV panels on the back wall are linked into a battery-backup system which powers one of the two ring-mains in the house. One ring main feeds the kitchen with all the heavy-duty appliances like the cooker, hob, washing machine etc. The other ring main feeds the rest of the house, so we have loads on it like central heating pump, the solar hot water system, desk lamps with low energy lightbulbs, cordless 'phone cradles, cable modem, wireless router, radio alarm clock etc. The PV panels are connected into the second system via an inverter/battery charger and a bank of deep-cycle leisure batteries.
As well as getting free electricity from the sun, the battery bank means we have electricity (except for the kitchen) for a few days in the event of an extended power cut - which means lights, warmth, communications etc, which go a long way to making life in a power cut more bearable.
November 2006: System up and running. There is a full commentary about it on this thread on the Powerswitch forum.
October 2006: Only just managed to get my PV panels mounted on the back wall of the house! Just have to hook them up to the inverter and batteries next!
June 2006: I have bought 2x165Wp "Schuco" PV panels to go as a sunshade over the guest room window at the back of the house. Combined with a battery of batteries and an off-grid inverter/charger, this should one one of the two ring-mains in the house in the summer and in the event of a power cut, giving me some small life comforts. Might get a small wind turbine to supplement it in the winter months!
August 2005: Green Cottage has a solar hot water system installed, which gives free hot water during the summer months, and also takes some of the load off the wood stove during the winter.
The solar panel is set into the roof, and looks very neat - much like a large 'velux' window!