The energy calculator is very simple, and many assumptions are made to make it easy to use. You can try different sizes, orientations and efficiencies for solar panels, and see what the equivalent small petroleum generator would be, and also what the equivalent pedal generator would be. It is interesting to enter a size approximately equal to the total area of your sunnyest south-facing roof, and see how much power you could generate right on your own property. Many houses could generate all the solar electricity they need, and even generate a surplus for their neighbors.
You can also compare solar panels to generators - including the approximate amount of fuel that would be required to generate the same amount of power as the sun. It's fun to see how many AA Alkaline batteries it would take EACH DAY to provide the same amount of power. It makes Solar look cheap in comparison!
Experiment with the energy calculator.
David Butcher davidbu at www.los-gatos.ca.us Tel (408) 978-5495 Los Gatos, California 95030