The most efficient solar photovoltaic (PV) panel on the market today is capable of turning about 20 percent of the sun's energy into electricity. This number is slowly but surely increasing, as technology continually improves. But in an ideal world, solar panels would convert a larger portion of the sun ray's into useful energy.
On this topic, EchoFirst may be onto something. In addition to using sunlight to generate electrical power, as conventional PV panels do, the company's energy system captures the sun's thermal energy, which may then be used for heating water and home air conditioning.
The result, according to the company, is a system that operates at around 50 percent efficiency. Here's more on how it works: