Updated: December 11, 2022

Daylight Harvesting is a control strategy for interior lighting that uses natural light to offset the amount of electric light needed to illuminate a space at a preferred level.

Although common in commercial architecture, daylight harvesting is increasingly being incorporated into residential design for energy cost savings, as well as to address lighting issues caused by weather, geography, orientation and overall building design. Daylight harvesting functionality can also be expanded with additional products to shut off electric lights automatically when a space is unoccupied.

Here’s a basic overview on how you can begin utilizing Daylight Harvesting techniques in your home.

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Benefits of Daylight Harvesting

  • Energy Efficiency
  • Cost Savings
  • Improved Productivity
  • Enhanced Wellness
  • Convenience

Automation is Key

Imagine the day starts off overcast and cloudy. You turn on a few overhead lights to provide ample lighting to illuminate your work space, then go about your morning routine. As the day progresses, clouds slowly give way to increased sunshine, although this is imperceptible to you since the lighting level in the room has been improved, by available sunlight coupled with electric lighting.

Daylight harvesting systems continuously and automatically adjust lights throughout the day to take advantage of available sunlight, thereby reducing overall energy consumption.


How Daylight Harvesting Works

Ceiling mounted photosensors (also referred to as photocells) are installed and calibrated to automate the optimal recommended light levels based on the needs and uses of a particular space.

The sensors are positioned to measure all photometric light, both natural light and work surface lights, into consideration. A signal is then passed from the photosensor to the lighting control switch, which then reduces the electric light levels to meet the optimal levels set during calibration.

These types of systems work best with dimmable lighting versus on-off switches, as light levels can be set with precision based on weather conditions, position of the sun and other factors. A well-calibrated dimming system is imperceptible to the room’s occupants, as the dimmable lighting changes would be subtle, unlike that of an on-off or step switch.

An example of this would be a kitchen at the breakfast hour during the winter months. Photosensors would cause under cabinet task lighting, as well as overhead recessed lighting, to adjust as the early morning sun rises and begins to infiltrate the room.

Here’s a simple explanatory video from PG&E that quickly explains the concept of Daylight Harvesting in an office setting:

Daylight Harvesting


Residential Daylight Harvesting Products



Lutron’s Radio Powr Savr Wireless Daylight Sensors save energy by directing compatible wireless lighting controls to reduce the level of electrical lighting based on available daylight. This product is designed for easy installation, convenient light control and optimal energy savings.

The Radio Powr Savr Daylight Sensor works with Lutron’s Maestro Wireless Switches and Dimmers and requires no new wiring, as it communicates via radio frequency. Installation only takes a few minutes.

Lutron’s Maestro Occupancy/Vacancy Sensors automatically turn lights on when you enter a room and off when you leave, a convenient way to easily reduce energy usage. They are also ideal for rooms that often need hands-free lighting, such as a laundry rooms or supply closets.

Lutron’s RadioRA2 Select is a repeater that enables you to control your lights and shades from a smartphone or tablet, from anywhere in the world using the Lutron app. The Pico remote control can also be used throughout your home. The repeater can support up to 100 devices.

RA2 Select Modern Home Tour (2 mins) - English

HomeWorks is Lutron’s fully integrated lighting and temperature residential control system that provides the following functionality and benefits: stylish aesthetics; refined daylight control; transformative & personalized lighting environments; automated smart living to efficiently control lighting, shades and temperature; and voice-command integration.

A Lutron Home is Sanctuary



Leviton manufactures multifunctional sensors that encompass both daylight sensing, as well as motion detection into self-contained units primarily suited for commercial applications. The pricing and infrared range of the ceiling mounted O2C04-IDW Occupancy Sensor, however, makes it suitable for typical indoor residential applications.

Leviton’s Residential Motion Sensors come in two types: Occupancy Sensors and Vacancy Sensors. Occupancy sensors automatically turn on when entering a room and shut off after you leave. Vacancy sensors, on the other hand, must be manually turned on, but will automatically shut off once motion is no longer detected.

Leviton also makes a popular LED Ceiling Occupancy Sensor Lampholder. When motion is detected, it automatically turns on and turns the lights off three minutes after the room has been vacated. The product is ideal for closets, workrooms, basements, storage areas, utility rooms and attics.



Solatube is a leading innovator that provides daylighting solutions (AKA tubular skylights) for both residential and commercial settings. Their creative solutions can combine the utility of delivering passive natural daylight to hard-to-reach areas of the home, while leveraging solar energy to provide additional control over the amount of light emitted.

For homes, Solatube offers three types of innovative lighting products:

  • Core Daylighting System
  • Daylight Dimmer System
  • Solar NightLight System

Tongue-in-Cheek Explanation of Solatube Passive Lighting Solutions

End Dark Times in Your Home, with Solatube.


Solatube Solar Powered Daylight Dimmer

Solatube Solar Powered Daylight Dimmer

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Daylight Harvesting Resources


Recommended Energy Efficiency Articles


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