Making Power-Added Efficiency (PAE) Measurements

Application Notes

Power-Added Efficiency (PAE) is a measure of the power conversion efficiency of power amplifiers. Ideally, all supplied power to the amplifier is converted into output power. However, that is not the case in reality.


Between linear and saturation regions of operation, there is a point where the power amplifier is most efficient. Up to a certain point, output power is improved while input power is increased. Beyond that point, increased input power will only generate more heat for the device. The objective of PAE measurement is to find this optimal point, the point where the power amplifier is most efficient in transferring input power into output power. Until recently, measuring this conversion rate was not possible with the PNA network analyzer because it was not possible for the network analyzer to perform DC measurements on the amplifier.


With the N5242A PNA-X, it is now possible to perform PAE measurements along with other power amplifier measurements. With one setup and connection, the following measurements (and more) can now be performed:


– S21: gain versus frequency

– S21: gain versus power (gain compression)

– AM-PM: phase versus power

– IMD: intermodulation distortion

– PAE: power-added efficiency (New! Power (RF_out)

– Power (RF_in) Power_dc


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