Almost every home or office has its dark corners away from windows. Until now, the only solution was to use electric lights to brighten things up. Apart from using electricity, electric lighting is never as pleasant as real sunlight, but now, an innovative start-up says it has developed a way to bring sunlight to any part of a building – without the need for structural changes.
The system, developed by Swedish start-up Solros (Swedish for “sunflower”), allegedly captures sunlight using a stainless-steel mirror. Like a sunflower, it moves automatically to follow the sun’s rays. Sunlight is then transmitted to a lightbox or luminary using a fiber-optic cable, bringing natural light to gloomy rooms.
Solros wanted its invention to be within the reach of ordinary people, so it has developed the system to work with either glass or plastic fiber optic cable. The glass fiber cable is costlier but can transfer light over a distance of 100 meters. However, Solros found that a sunlight transmission distance of 20 meters was more than adequate for most homes, and the plastic version of the cable is not only cheaper but able to transmit light over this distance.
As an additional cost-cutter, professional installation isn’t needed. Most home handymen and women will be able to install their system with a few basic tools and skills. The system can’t store light, so it doesn’t replace electric lights at night, but as soon as dawn breaks, the Solros dish “wakes up” and begins tracking and concentrating the sunlight once again.
Still, the physical operating principle seems to remain a mystery. What exactly is transported with the cable? What happens with the lightbox?
How it All Began
A pair of engineers, Jon Ramstedt and Daniel Johannsen, developed the first natural light harvesting and distribution system back in 2015. It was suitable for large corporates that wanted to create pleasanter office lighting conditions for their employees. However, the large-scale version was costly, and only affluent companies could afford it. But despite this, the idea gained traction and was put to work in several countries around the world.
The biggest obstacle to even more widespread adoption was the cost, so the two friends decided to investigate ways in which a similar system could be produced for an affordable price. If they could achieve this, they would have a sustainable lighting solution that would not only make homes pleasanter but also save electricity.
Their drive to cut the cost of sunshine-harvesting resulted in the invention of the light-gathering disc and the adoption of plastic fiber-optic cable to replace the more expensive glass cabling. With the new system almost ready for commercial production, Ramstedt and Johannsen decided it was time for some additional skills on the team. They appointed a team of designers to help with the finishing touches that would turn the invention into a marketable product and entered a partnership with an engineering firm, Essiq.
Next Steps will Lead to The Launch of the Light Transferring Technology
Solros is currently busy with a crowdfunding campaign and hopes to use the funds raised to finance the manufacture of its first batch of what it terms “reallight” systems. To keep prices accessible, the company will need to place a sufficiently large order with the factory it has chosen to manufacture the invention.
The team is also developing an app that will allow users to monitor energy savings and get personalized weather forecasts, adding a dimension of fun into the equation. Production of the system is scheduled for August 2018, and the product’s launch will occur in January 2019.