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Group: Heliostat

I live outside the USA – can I order a heliostat?

Yes!  But understand:  mirror size makes a big impact on shipping costs.

  • If you order a standard 4′ x 4′ (1.5m x 1.5m) mirror, international shipping cost alone will likely be @ $2000* because we have to ship the order as ‘Palletized” freight.    Note that Canada and Mexico costs are probably less, because they can be reached by ground shipment.
  • We can ship a smaller 30″ x 30″ mirror (76cm x 76cm) by parcel post.  For most of the world shipping cost is @ $600*.
  • Another option: we ship the gearbox system only, and you supply the mirror.  Shipping costs via USPS Priority Mail @ $350*.   We recommend an Aluminum Composite Panel (ACP) mirror, 3mm thickness, similar to Dibond Mirror Material ( https://www.display.3acomposites.com/dibond.html ).

* Disclaimer:  shipping prices are estimates only and are not guaranteed, and were provided as of 5/2020.  Do not rely on these figures – get a formal quote from us!

Where Can I Install a Heliostat?

We’re often asked where heliostats can be installed.   While there are some great software tools to help ( https://www.suncalc.org/ ), there’s a simple process anyone can follow.

  • Do you have an often-sunny location where you plan to put a heliostat?
  • Stand in that location at the time of day you want to reflect light to your ‘target’ (that is, your home’s windows, a porch, etc).
  • Using a hand mirror, attempt to reflect light onto your desired target. 
  • If YOU are able to reflect light onto the target, so can our H1 Heliostat once correctly adjusted.

Note that you should check morning, midday, and afternoon to be sure you can reflect light throughout the day.

Note also that the sun’s path will change with the seasons – remember how the sun’s path differs at other times of the year.  Use a tool like https://www.suncalc.org/ to check the path for different pats of the year.

DISCLAIMER:  This process depends on you doing it correctly, is for informative planning purposes only, and we don’t guarantee results without a formal, paid solar survey.   This said, for most projects the above method is a useful preview of the H1 heliostat’s performance at your location.

What’s a Heliostat?

An apparatus containing a movable or driven mirror, used to reflect sunlight in a fixed direction.    As the sun moves across the sky, a heliostat makes small adjustments to the position of a mirror in order to keep reflected light on a target.   The larger the mirror mounted on the heliostat, the more energy and light is delivered to the target.  Multiple heliostats can reflect light onto the same target to deliver large amounts of heat and light.   LightManufacturing manufactures the high performance H1 Heliostat.

Heliostat Array

How Much Energy does the H1 Heliostat Capture?

The standard H1 heliostat ships with a 1.21M x 1.21M (48″ square) aluminum composite reflector. 

  • The 48″ square mirror reflects over 1000 watts onto a target in optimal conditions, or over 115,000 lumens if used for lighting applications.   This is the most energy/light captured by a commercially available heliostat.

In contrast to the H1, some smaller / consumer-oriented heliostats offer a mirror only .5 square meters in area, reflecting @ 425 watts of energy.  It would take 4 or 5 of these small units to equal one H1 heliostat.

I Read About a Less Expensive Heliostat. Is the H1 a Better Investment?

The LightManufacturing H1 heliostat is a powerful commercial-grade heliostat, with a number of advantages over ‘home heliostat’ systems.

  • The H1 heliostat uses safe, aluminum composite mirrors which are shatterproof and tough, not glass like other heliostats.  The H1 mirrors shrug off impact.
  • The H1 heliostat uses only aircraft-grade aluminum structural elements for maximum durability, not plastic like other heliostats.
  • The H1 heliostat can be aimed exactly using your web browser, unlike other heliostats which require you to hand-aim the mirrors at a target.
  • The H1 heliostat can change target easily between multiple targets you define, unlike other heliostats.
  • The H1 heliostat is MUCH larger and captures more light and heat than small ‘home heliostats’.  A H1 with 4′ square mirror has a mirror area of1.5 square meters, as compared to consumer heliostats with mirrors only 0.5 square meters or less.
  • The H1 costs less per watt/lumen than any other heliostat on the market.  Purchase price of the H1 may be higher, but when you calculate the cost / square meter of mirror you’ll quickly see the advantage of the H1.
  • You can combine multiple H1 heliostats to deliver unlimited heat/light to targets you define, and you can switch all of your H1s from target to target with a single command.

Can I Heat a Home or Office with Heliostats?

Yes. Heliostats are a low cost way to capture light and heat and direct it into a building through windows. In many buildings, some rooms never get direct sunlight at all – they face the wrong way. Heliostats placed outside these cold /dark rooms can direct warmth and light into the rooms, transforming them into enjoyable, comfortable spaces. Each H1 Heliostat can deliver over 1000 watts to a room, or over 115,000 lumens of light. Multiple H1s can be combined to warm a single room faster, or you can use several H1 heliostats to warm different spaces simultaneously. Applications include schools, office buildings, homes, industrial workspaces, farm buildings, and many other architectural uses.

Do you make Solar Furnace / Solar Oven Systems?

LightManufacturing H1 Heliostats are ideal for solar furnace, solar oven, and similar applications.  Each H1 heliostat captures up to 2000 watts of solar heat, and directs it to a cooker, water heater, roasting enclosure, or other solar oven/furnace design.  Multiple H1 heliostats can target the same enclosure to deliver very large amounts of heat. Depending on your application, LightManufacturing  can supply ISO shipping container based sun furnace target enclosures, or you may construct your own target from locally available materials. Similar terms:  sun furnace, solar furnace, solar oven, sun oven.

Note:  Solar Rotational Molding is covered by our several US and international patents. SRM systems are available for sale, and the technology may be licensed to qualified partners.

Do LightManufacturing Heliostats Require a Computer for Tracking?

No.  The H1 heliostat has an internal microprocessor, and no external computer is needed for regular heliostat operation.  A computer or smart-phone browser IS used for initial setup – eg entering heliostat location (lat/long) time of day, time zone, etc – and for defining the heliostat ‘targets’ – where you want the light and heat from the heliostat to go.   After this initial setup, which is done wirelessly, the heliostat operates totally autonomously.  All it needs is 12V DC power – which can be provided by our optional P1 or P2 solar power supplies if you’re installing the heliostat somewhere without available local power. Autonomous heliostat operation is very important if you’re managing multiple units – you don’t want your entire heliostat array taken offline because of a central computer failure, or because of a wiring problem.  LightManufacturing H1 heliostats are robust and failure-resistant in part because each one operates autonomously.   This is important both for heliostat architectural / green building applications and for heliostat solar thermal manufacturing.