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Indoor light energy harvesting for battery-powered wireless sensors using small photovoltaic modules



Andrew M. Shore, John Roller, Jennifer Bergeson, Behrang Hamadani


As interest in Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices like wireless sensors increases, research efforts have focused on finding ways for these sensors to self-harvest energy from the environment in which they are installed. Photovoltaic (PV) cells or mini-modules are an intuitive choice for harvesting indoor ambient light, even under low light conditions, and using it for battery charging and powering of these devices. Characterizations of battery charging, for small rechargeable batteries from low charge to full charge, have been investigated using PV mini-modules of equal area. We present battery charging results using three different PV technologies, monocrystalline silicon (c-Si), gallium-indium-phosphide (GaInP), and gallium-arsenide (GaAs) under a warm color temperature (3000 K) LED lighting at an illuminance of 1000 lx. Battery charging times are shortest for the more efficient GAInP and GaAs mini-modules whose spectral response is a better match to the LED test source, which contains mostly visible photons, and longest for the less efficient Si cells. As a demonstration, a wireless temperature sensor mote was attached to the charging circuit and operated to determine its power consumption in relation to the available charging power. The mote's maximum power draw was less than the charging power from the least efficient c-Si mini-module. Our findings affirm the feasibility of utilizing PV under typical indoor lighting conditions to power IoT devices.
Energy Science and Engineering


indoor light, energy harvesting, photovoltaics, wireless sensor, battery charging


Shore, A. , Roller, J. , Bergeson, J. and Hamadani, B. (2021), Indoor light energy harvesting for battery-powered wireless sensors using small photovoltaic modules, Energy Science and Engineering, [online],, (Accessed June 22, 2024)


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Created August 15, 2021, Updated October 14, 2021