The development of ruthenium-free sensitizers which absorb light over a broad range of the solar spectrum is important for improving the power conversion efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells. Here we study three chemically tailored porphyrin-based dyes. We show that by fusing the porphyrin core to an anthracene unit, we can extend the conjugation length and lower the optical gap, shifting the absorption spectrum into the near-infrared (NIR). All three dyes were tested in dye-sensitized solar cells, using both titanium dioxide and tin dioxide as the electron-transport material. Solar cells incorporating the anthracene-fused porphyrin dye exhibit photocurrent collection at wavelengths up to about 1100 nm, which is the longest reported for a porphyrin-based system. Despite extending the photon absorption bandwidth, device efficiency is found to be low, which is a common property of cells based on porphyrin dyes with NIR absorption. We show that in the present case the efficiency is reduced by inefficient electron injection into the oxide, as opposed to dye regeneration, and highlight some important design considerations for panchromatic sensitizers. © 2012 The Royal Society of Chemistry.