Published on April 19th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan4
Home Heliostats — Say What?!
April 19th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
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