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SunTracker: Leveraging GPS to Radically Optimize Daylighting

| Friday September 30th, 2011 | 2 Comments

ban-startup-friday

In recent years, much has been made of the energy savings and emissions reduction associated with switching to CFLs. What if every moment the sun was out you could go completely without electric lighting?

Daylighting is an often touted solution. In my case, having skylights in our office meant hiding from it as the sun was directly overhead to avoid sunburn, squinting into my computer at other times due to glare, and unworkably low lights in the winter.

Other options such as the light tubes have improved upon simple skylights. Light tubes reflect light that lands on a roof down a tube and into whatever space, even on another floor,  that needs illumination. Yet here again, when the sun is not shining on it, the lighting quality degrades.

Ciralight has come up with a brilliant solution: SunTracker. The product uses skylights with a series of mirrors, oriented by GPS, to maintain lighting throughout the day, coupled with solar power to run them. They are built in such a way so as to not convey the heat along with the sunlight, so temperatures remain the same inside, reducing expenses and energy use associated with air condition to compensate.

The difference as compared to regular, passive skylights is substantial. Up to 300% more light, the equivalent of an 800 watt bulb, according to Ciralight.

Is there a downside to SunTrackers? Yes, they do not work on multi-story buildings. While this is an unfortunate limitation for office towers and other such structures, there are a plethora of places such as retail outlets, airports and the like where SunTrackers could be widely used, resulting in substantial energy and money savings, while creating a more pleasant environment. Currently, Whole Foods, IKEA, Office Depot and Boeing are among Ciralight’s clients.

The video below compellingly demonstrates the difference in usage of smart vs. passive skylights.

Readers: What lighting/daylighting innovations are you seeing that are worth noting? Have you used Ciralight products in your business?

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Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.


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  • Nick Aster

    Pretty cool. With all those moving parts, however, I wonder if there’s a downside in terms of it breaking down, and requiring energy to power the rotation?

    • Paul Arthur Smith

      It’s solar powered Nick.