Heliostat offers up new residential light source

As a writer, I spend a lot of time at home, typing away in my office. My favorite time of day is when the sun is perfectly positioned to provide all the natural light I need to work.

My motivation to be productive diminishes drastically when it’s a cloudy day, and I have to rely on shadow-casting artificial lights instead of sunlight. 

Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t stay in that perfect position for very long. If only there were a way to get that room-illuminating effect no matter where the sun happened to be in the sky.

Turns out, there is a way to harness the sun’s natural light as it moves across the sky. Using a heliostat, which is really just a giant reflective mirror, mounted on motors, the sun is tracked throughout the day, reflecting its light on the same spot, like a window or solar panel. 

Unfortunately, heliostats usually cost thousands of dollars, making them impractical for residential use. Until now. A team of engineers and manufacturers at Wikoda recently released the SunFlower, said to be the first and only heliostat designed and priced for residential use at around $300.

The word “heliostat” comes from two Greek words: “helios,” which means “sun,” and “stat,” as in stationary. It creates the effect of a “stationary sun” by reflecting the sunlight with a flat mirror to a particular place, and compensating for the sun’s movement by moving the mirror to keep the sunlight there.

According to a Wikoda statement, a single heliostat can reflect up to 50,000 lumens of sunlight (the equivalent of fifty 60 watt bulbs), completely transforming the mood of an otherwise shaded room, and adding warmth as well. 

All of this free sunlight can mean some home energy savings. Based on a typical $0.15 per KWhr cost of electricity, the Sunflower home heliostat is estimated to provide $200 to $600 of free lighting per year depending on local sky conditions.

Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling