The LightCatcher brings the sunlight indoors, without the heat, and claims to reduce the need for artificial lighting for about 10 hours per day, using just 1% of the roof's surface area.
Advances in energy-efficient lighting are coming fast and furious, and innovations in LED and CFL technology are gradually shifting the way we light our homes and businesses. However, while CFLs seem to be far ahead of incandescent bulbs, as far as efficiency and lifespan, they aren't a magic bullet for lighting, and LEDs, which have a much longer lifespan and better energy efficiency (lumens/watt), are still fairly expensive.
A far better solution might be to use as much natural (and free) sunlight as possible during the day, only using LEDs or CFLs after dark, and a new variation on active daylighting using automated sun-tracking solar domes promises to deliver big savings, with no upfront investment.
The LightCatcher, from EcoNation, uses a dome with sensors and a motorized mirror and lenses to optimize the harvesting of sunlight for use inside the building, and claims to be able to provide sufficient light for up to 10 hours per day, using just 1 to 3% of the roof surface area.
According to the company, the device's impact on the environment and energy costs is "eight times higher than solar panels," and thanks to an innovative business model, organizations can start saving money with them on day one with no upfront costs, because EcoNation covers the entire investment for their customers.
EcoNation, a finalist in the 2014 Zayed Future Energy Prize, says their LightCatcher technology, which also features UV and heat filtering (allowing light, but not heat, to enter the building), can save companies a considerable amount of money on lighting energy costs each year - up to 70%. An integrated monitoring technology in the LightCatchers provides a daily record of energy savings, which EcoNation then uses to invoice the customers, at a fraction of what their "normal" lighting costs were before.
"You lend EcoNation a small part of your roof (usually 1 to 3% of your total roof surface will suffice for providing the maximum amount of daylight) to install LightCatchers via a ‘Light Investment Company’ (LiCom). The latter finances the entire operation and then the smart daylight starts work. The LightCatchers provide wireless control of your light fittings, the integrated monitoring technology holds daily records in real time of the energy output and we quantify the light outputs together with you." - EcoNation
Currently, this business model is only available for industrial, public and commercial buildings that have a roof surface area of 5,000 square meters, but according to the company, group purchase deals are available for businesses with smaller roofs.
For more information about this daylighting solution, see the company's website.