Sustainability Hacks: Heliostats

Solar panels are a popular item among people who are trying to do more with less but, at least in the past, they have been pretty expensive to install. For some uses, you can forget using solar panels and use the sunlight directly with very little efficiency loss. A device that lets you do that is called a heliostat, which is really just a fancy mirror that you can set to reflect sunlight to wherever you might want it. You could aim it through a window so that it hits your ceiling and diffuses throughout the room or you could point it towards a location where you could collect the sun’s energy to heat something directly.

For a really good rundown on how heliostats work and how you can build one, check out this page where you can find all sorts of information. Heck, they even have an Arduino controlling some of them!

12 thoughts on “Sustainability Hacks: Heliostats

  1. Solar electricity is not expensive anymore. you can do a 6000 watt installation for under $10,000US and that is with a backfeed inverter that sells unused back to the utility and runs your meter backwards.

    Just 10 years ago the same install would have been $50,000…

    1. How much are the government subsidies for that $10k installation? You know if we increased the subsidies we could pay people to install solar on their homes.

    1. Actually, it is within 10 years for most installations, and within 5 years for corporate ones.

      Where have you been the last five years? Solar panel development and price drops have been crazy.

  2. Actually, what would be cooler would be mounting the mirrors on piezos and encoding datastreams in the vibration of the mirrors. could probably make some pretty long wireless links :)

    1. lol I really like that idea! I bet it would work great on a big ranch of some sort (like the one my family used to have in San Jacinto)!

  3. This is my job. I can definitely say that there’s more to solar than photovoltaics. Passive, thermal, and light harvest systems are all useful.

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