SunTracker One Brings The Sun Inside
SunTracker One is an active solar lighting fixture that follows the sun to direct more of its rays inside a building. It uses the same principles as a heliostat, a device used by astronomers to direct the sun's light in a constant direction. The word 'heliostat' was coined in the mid-1700's.
SunTracker consists of a Plexiglas acrylic dome placed on the roof; light passes through to Optix Acrylic panel mirrors with reflectivity of over 90%. A controller is used to keep the mirrors properly aligned; the motor itself is powered by capacitors that are charged by a photovoltaic cell.
According to the manufacturer, SunTracker produces up to nine times more light than a passive skylight and distributes it more evenly and over a wider area. Its illumination is equivalent to 800 watts of fluorescent lighting. In addition to saving on lighting costs, HVAC needs are also reduced due to the waste heat produced by standard electical lighting.
I'm certain that I read about similar devices in science fiction novels of the 1980's, with light gathered on the roof and then sent via fiber optics throughout the building. This system is more direct, and probably has less light loss.
The basic idea for this has been around for a while; see this interesting article on
Light Tubes for similar effects. I found out about this product here.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/27/2006)
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