Some daylighting solutions are available in the market that use collectors and large diameter optic fibre cables to transfer sunlight to interiors of residential or underground dwellings.

Below are images of: Large Collector, Transfer Cables, Indoor Lighting

One of the largest collectors enter image description here enter image description here

My question is this: do these solutions provide enough luminous intensity that a solar panel can be charged indoors?

If yes, then it will be useful not only on Earth (for daily needs in ever congested urban areas), but, also in space missions!


  1. Highly concentrated optical fiber-based daylighting systems for multi-floor office buildings
  2. Fiber Optics for Daylighting
  3. Daylighting by Optic Fibre - Erik Andre, Jutta Schade
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    Interesting question, but why would you want to put a solar panel indoors in space? Space capsules are usually rather small, and on the outside there is plenty of ... well...space. Or do you mean in future housing on the moon or Mars?
    – THelper
    Jan 28, 2021 at 14:00
  • 1
    @THelper for the space usecase, I was thinking on the lines of mitigating dust issues for Martian settlements. Solar panels are relatively delicate compared to sunlight collectors. But, for the use case on Earth, think of a facility that is underground, or even the lower floors of High Rises.
    – anurag
    Jan 28, 2021 at 14:36

3 Answers 3


I found this interesting article that takes this idea one step further. Instead of using 'regular' optic fibres to power a 'regular' solar panel, researchers are combining the two.

They are aiming to achieve this feat with the help of zinc oxide nanostructures grown on optical fibers and coated with dye-sensitized solar cell materials. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have built up a new kind of three-dimensional photovoltaic system

So basically the fibre optics have become solar panels.

Using this technology, we can make photovoltaic generators that are foldable, concealed and mobile. Optical fiber could conduct sunlight into a building’s walls where the nanostructures would convert it to electricity. This is truly a three dimensional solar cell

The article states that the researchers achieved a 3.3% efficiency which is fairly low. Today's photovoltaic panels generally have a 15-23% efficiency and the first 'modern' solar panel built in 1954 already had 6% efficiency. However the researchers hope that with further modifications they can achieve 7-8% and they think the costs will be relatively low.


Actually a molecular photoswitch has been recently developed that can capture sunlight. This could make light bulbs a thing of the past and bring a whole new way if thinking about photovoltaic cells

  • Welcome to Sustainable Living! I'm curious about this photoswitch. Is there an article you could share?
    – THelper
    Jul 18, 2022 at 6:55

Oh no that won't work.

Those are intended to replicate typical indoor light levels by replacing electric lights. Electric indoor lights typically produce 100 - 500 lux. Sunlight is 100 000 lux.

You don't necessarily realize this because your eyes lie to you, but it's darker indoors than what you think. Every photographer knows that.

So at best you are getting half percent of the power output you would be getting in sunlight. At worst, 0.1%.

Install the solar panel where it should be installed, next to that solar collector over the roof.

  • Could you please also share what the luminous intensity is of the solar indoor lighting? I understand that the collector and transfer cables will induce some loss, but, is it significant? If not, I think a solar panel based system may be charged indoors!
    – anurag
    Feb 10, 2023 at 4:20

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