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Consumer Technology heliostat

Published on April 19th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan

4

Home Heliostats — Say What?!

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April 19th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
 
 
home heliostats

CleanTechnica readers are probably most familiar with heliostats related to concentrated solar power (CSP) projects — they’re the mirrors that direct sunlight at the solar power tower. However, heliostats can be used for other purposes as well. A heliostat “is a device that includes a mirror, usually a plane mirror, which turns so as to keep reflecting sunlight toward a predetermined target, compensating for the sun’s apparent motions in the sky.” So, any time you need to continuously direct sunlight somewhere, you probably need a heliostat.

Now, apparently, one company has gone and manufactured heliostats for home use that can help you to increase the natural daylight reaching into your home and decrease your artificial lighting needs.

The company notes that “heliostats traditionally have been expensive, costing thousands of dollars each, and only suitable for government research” — it does seem as though they would be a tad more expensive than the energy-efficient lighting options we have today. But this team of engineers and manufacturers at Wikoda Inc. in Concord, Massachusetts thinks it’s produced some heliostats that are truly practical and cost-effective enough for home use (I’ll let you decide).

“A single heliostat reflects up to 50,000 lumens of sunlight and can completely transform the mood of a room (one 60 watt bulb provides 1000 lumens),” the company writes. The Sunflower Home Heliostat sells for $399 USD.

“Based on a typical $0.15 per KWhr cost of electricity, the Sunflower Home Heliostat provides the equivalent of $2 per day of free natural lighting each sunny day. On a yearly basis, the Sunflower Heliostat provides $200 to $600 of free lighting per year depending on local sky conditions, making it a form of alternate energy with an unusual rapid payback.”

The product was first available in the US, but the company says that it’s been seeing high demand for this new product in other places as well, especially in countries such as Australia, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. The demand has been so high that “Wikoda Inc. pushed for, and received the European CE certification on an accelerated schedule to allow shipping into those regions with full government approval.”

What Does the Home Heliostat Need?

You’re probably wondering what kind of setup or programming this home heliostat needs. The company writes: “Unlike heliostats intended for industrial purposes, a home heliostat from Wikoda Inc. does not require any programming or scientific knowledge to set up. The computer, motion servos and sun sensors are all on-board and self contained.  It doesn’t even need batteries or a power cord because the heliostat itself is solar powered. All that is required are typical homeowner tools, like a screwdriver and wrench, and a sunny patch of yard. Once set up and operating, the heliostat tracks the sun every day and pumps sunlight in through a window providing free light and warmth.”

Aside from increasing natural lighting in houses or rooms, Wikoda notes that customers have used its heliostat for “grow indoor plants, provide warmth, melt icy roofs, dry clothes, dry woodpiles, discourage moss or mildew and jumpstart spring flowers.”

More info and heliostat videos via the Sunflower Home Heliostat site.

Source: PR Newswire
Images: Sunflower Home Heliostat website

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



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  • Bob

    seems like a Fresnel lens could do the same thing? And there have been passive tilting devices for many years that allow solar panels to track the sun.

  • sola

    This could seriously improve solar collector efficiency and positioning possibilities since with appropriate heliostat positioning one could use the collectors for much longer periods within the day.

    In this case the heliostat would focus on the solar collector.

  • sola

    I have been wandering about this so many times.

    Sun is so powerful and sunshine only needs to get inside your house in the heating season (if you have sufficiently large windows)

    With sufficiently low-cost heliostats ($399 sounds way too expensive, but $100 would be acceptable) one could seriously reduce heating costs of a properly designed house (big windows again)

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