When is something efficent?

Updated: 9/17/2023
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13y ago

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Efficiency is usually a measurement of the input versus the output. But, it also has an element of comparing to all the competing technologies.

Is a solar panel that captures 19% of the sun's energy and converts it to electricity efficient? (See Sunpower Solar). Compared to the competitors that capture about 10%, it is very efficient. Yet, compared to the space technology panels that get about 40% efficiency (Emcore, Boeing), it still has some work to do.
But, with a solar panel, efficiency in many senses is just a measurement of how much space it will take up on the rooftop.

With a hot water heater, efficiency might be a measurement of how much electricity or gas you need to buy. And that is something that is easy to measure an input vs output, assuming we believe the estimates.

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Q: When is something efficent?
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