# How to graphically represent nonfinite values

I need to graphically display a real-time energy usage of a pump (monthly, daily), power, voltage, current, temperature and humidity. All but the energy usage can be displayed using a gauge graph because they all have their max value (ex. voltage 250V, current 100A, temperature 100°C etc).

Monthly and daily usage varies. On some days the pump doesn't turn on and on some days the pump runs all day. I have a bar chart displaying history of the energy usage but I need to display this month's and day's total energy usage.

What would be my options of graphically displaying nonfinite values, in this case the energy usage, that isn't pure text?

A fixed number of pumps running at maximum capacity at a given power level does have a finite, knowable maximum. I would argue that the real question is choosing an upper bound to the gauge. This assumes that you present textually the exact value displayed by the gauge, either by showing the current value:

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Let's say your absolute maximum possible power usage is 10 000 Watts for a single pump running at full capacity for a complete day.

If your users care about the usage in relation to maximum capacity, just give that gauge an upper bound of 10 kW. If the needle moves imperceptibly to 42 Watts, the user probably doesn't care because "almost nothing" is equivalent to nothing.

If, however, it is relevant to show that the pump was active at all, just scale the upper bound in order to keep the needle's position in a "reasonable" visual range (off the cuff, within the 80% of the total range). Only 1 kW was used? Set the gauge's upper bound to 2 kW and fill it to 50 %.

In the latter case, it may be relevant to indicate that the upper bound was scaled from the "real" maximum potential.

On an addition to the previous answer, you can go for the odometer using the values that are growing exponentially taking the lowest possible and highest possible values at both ends. But do show the exact value along with updating the odometer bar

This is what speedtest does

• That's kind of exactly what I was suggesting. Nov 6, 2017 at 17:51
• @msanford Yeah I read that. great explanation. Nov 6, 2017 at 17:53