Solar lighting, also known as daylighting, brings sunlight from outdoors to indoors. Even a room with no windows can be lit by the sun!
Daylighting technologies such as solar tubes channel sunlight indoors, even to rooms that have no windows. A clear dome, usually on a roof, collects sunlight. The sunlight then travels into the home by reflecting off the mirrored walls of a tube—a solar tube. The solar tube connects the roof and the ceiling of the room to which it carries sunlight.
The concept of daylight harvesting is growing in popularity among architects and engineers. This means that light during the day can be captured – harvested – in order to reduce energy use. Daylighting techniques such as solar tubes or passive solar lighting design can be integrated with normal electrical lights by using a light sensor system that dims or brightens the electrical lights based on how much natural daylight is in the room.
Hybrid solar lighting
Hybrid solar lighting is a technology that was developed right here in east Tennessee at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This technology utilizes a parabolic dish to concentrate nature sunlight into a building through a bundle of optical fibers, and the nature light was then blended with the existing artificial lighting to provide comfortable and controllable interior lighting. Optical fibers can carry light much farther than regular solar tubes, so this technology is capable of bringing natural sunshine into deep interior of a building.