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The Sunflower focuses sunlight where you want it

By

February 28, 2012

The Sunflower is a heliostat designed for residential use

The Sunflower is a heliostat designed for residential use

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Some people have a cool, gloomy room in their house that receives little if any direct sunlight, even though it has a window. Should you be one of those people, and you want to save electricity, perhaps a home heliostat is what you need. Heliostats are motorized mirrored devices that move to compensate for the changing angle of the Sun as it moves across the sky, reflecting its rays onto a fixed target such as a window, photovoltaic panel, or solar oven. While almost all commercially-available heliostats are aimed at industrial users, Massachusetts-based company Wikoda is now offering what it claims is the world's only heliostat designed and priced for residential use.

Called the Sunflower, Wikoda's device incorporates a microprocessor, motion servos and sun sensors, all of which are solar-powered - no power cords are required. It can reportedly be installed using regular tools and no scientific knowledge, on a fence post or other perch in a sunny patch of yard. If no suitable mounting points are available, an optional PVC stand can be purchased.

Once it's set up, it proceeds to watch the location of the Sun throughout the day, constantly adjusting to reflect the light to a user-chosen location. Its reflective surface has an area of half a square meter (5.38 sq ft), and can redirect as much as 50,000 lumens of sunlight. Besides windows, other targets suggested by the company include icy roofs or sidewalks, wet woodpiles, flower beds, or damp laundry on clotheslines.

The Sunflower has a reflective area of half a square meter (10.8 sq ft), and can redirect ...

Practical Solar, also based out of Massachusetts, was making residential heliostats for a couple of years. Recently, however, the company decided to focus solely on commercial/industrial products, due to a lack of consumer demand.

The Sunflower Home Heliostat can be purchased via Wikoda's website for US$399, with the stand going for an extra $50.

Source: Wikoda

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
9 Comments

Great idea for those north-facing, under the overhanging deck, downstairs windows.

Now I won't have to go out and re-adjust that propped-up mirror in the yard.

BombR76
28th February, 2012 @ 04:14 pm PST

Anyone else start humming the starwars theme tune when they saw the picture of the device?

SamD
29th February, 2012 @ 02:28 pm PST

I think a roof mounted one of these, pointed at a sunroof or sunlight located on the dark side of the house would be well worth it, providing more hours of light to that space as the sun set for the night or rose into the sky in the morning.

Gene Jordan
29th February, 2012 @ 02:49 pm PST

Buy a dozen or so, then point them at that neighbour you've hated for years :-)

christopher
29th February, 2012 @ 05:45 pm PST

Nice but sunlight gives me migraines.

Slowburn
29th February, 2012 @ 11:34 pm PST

This is also a very useful product for hobbyists. They can direct quite a few at fixed solar panels, with the sunlight remaining steady. The mirrors themselves can be replaced with solar panels. If there is only one place available for placing solar panels cheaply, well and which is relatively large but does not have good sunlight, such a location can now be utilized with these as separate satellites, plus they are autonomous, self powered. The mirrors can also be slightly curved, to enlarge the projected area of sunlight.

Dawar Saify
4th March, 2012 @ 02:02 pm PST

On a larger scale the italian mountain village Viganella lights its main square during winter where they have no direct sun.

http://twistedsifter.com/2012/02/village-builds-giant-mirror-to-combat-darkness/

Henrik
16th March, 2012 @ 03:24 am PDT

I have a 4x4 foot sheet of plywood, painted white, leaning against a deck railing to bounce western light into an eastern double window. it works pretty well for a total cost of about $11.00. Focused mirrors would blind me when I look out. Still, this is a cool device, and I imagine there are practical applications for it.

Grainpaw
29th March, 2012 @ 06:30 pm PDT

I think they've changed this price because it's only listed as $299 on their website.

alison.contact
24th February, 2014 @ 09:03 am PST
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