What if you could light your entire building using no electricity, or artificial lights – but just the natural light from the sun? Conventional sky-lights do this well in certain types of single-story spaces, but are not very adaptable, powerful, and often have problems with excessive solar heat gain and heat loss. Enter the Sundolier, a powerful sunlight transport system that’s like putting a solar robot on your roof to pump sunlight indoors! The manufacturer claims a single Sundolier unit can provide enough light to illuminate a 1000-2500 sq. ft. area without any other sources.
Daylighting has taken an important role in green building, with benefits ranging from lowered energy bills to happier occupants. Many architects have struggled with making daylighting effective without the cost of glare and heat gain. The Sundolier daylighting system is a new way to gain the benefits of natural light without the drawbacks.
They do this by using an active two-axis tracking mount with a couple of reflectors that look like a big banana peel. The concentrated light is then reflected down a two foot tube and distributed using a “sun chandelier”. They are offering a few chandelier models now with more designs on the way. A roof penetration of only 3.3 sq. ft. is an industry best for the lumens output. Lighting levels at full sun are stated to be 40-50 foot candles at table top with minimal heat gain in a 1000 sq. ft. room. Here is a great video of an installation at a public library.
Now that we got the stats taken care of let’s talk about why natural light is such a hot topic in the land of green building. Studies have shown that retail sales go up, productivity increases, and school grades improve thanks to natural indoor light. But the biggest gain is in the occupants’ health. Link your lighting to a photo sensor and you save a healthy amount of energy as well. An even greater energy reduction is realized because air conditioning is reduced or eliminated by keeping those heat-producing artificial lights off.