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Sundolier Solar Lighting Glows Inside

Credits: ©2010 Sundolier / Ross McCluney

Traditional daylighting involves architectural building design to introduce sun and sky illumination with little glare while producing modest heat gains and losses. The process adds cost and complexity to design and construction phases but has historically resulted in some outstanding daylit spaces offering all the wonderful attributes of good daylighting design: high color rendering, energy savings, and a variety of psychological and other beneficial human factors. Sunflower Daylighting has developed a new daylighting system that supplies these attributes in a simpler “package” system requiring no special building design, with the added advantage of lower conductive heat transfers due to smaller glazing areas. It can be added easily to an existing building or included in a new design with little effort. It is currently available only for single story buildings or the top floor of multistory ones, but solves two important problems of alternative systems. The daylight illumination provided is relatively constant all day long, works as well with low sun angles as with high, and is essentially glare free. The Sundolier® accomplishes these objectives without the expense of high quality large dish mirrors, two-axis tracking systems, and complicated and inefficient light piping systems.


Sundolier Library

A Sundolier™ solar light was installed in the Phillip S. Miller Library in Colorado as a retrofit project in February 2009. After installing the Sundolier™ the library was able to remove two or three lamps from the light fixtures—reducing energy costs from lighting needs by 67% for this same area. ©2010 Sundolier

Sunflower uses proven systems for two-axis tracking from active solar and satellite communications industries. They offer a robust system with very low roof penetration (<0.4 percent) that is capable of meeting general lighting requirements for 1,000 to 2,500 square feet of space. Natural daylight is proven to improve the general wellness of building occupants—daylight increases the speed or learning for students, increases productivity of workers, and increases sales in retail environments. Plus, low roof penetration means miniscule heat transfer costs through the small glazed area.

The Sundolier™ is a chandelier that distributes sunlight to interior rooms by washing ceilings and walls with daylight which creates the highest quality natural lighting experience available. It requires minimal roof penetration, is easy to specify and delivers high quality indirect daylight. Sundolier delivers sunlight so effectively that electric lighting can be turned off when the sun is out offering excellent opportunities to save electricity while reducing heat generation through cool indirect daylighting.

Sundolier units can work in low bay (eight to twenty feet ceilings) environments and can provide a solution for large open spaces, bringing natural light to up to 2,500 square feet, possibly more depending on your needs.

This system is suitable for new and retrofit construction and can be applied to education, office retail or industrial applications.


• One Sundolier™ lights >= 1,000 square feet of space delivering 40 to 50 foot-candles at desk level

• It is capable of lighting a single classroom with high quality indirect light

• It can light large office and retail space to lower ambient levels

• Roof penetration is only 3.13 square foot per 1000 sq feet (one 2’ round hole)

• Multiple Sundolier™ systems deliver quality light to larger spaces

• Greater spacing between systems delivers better ROI for office and retail if lighting demands are lower

Advantages that include:

• Concentrates and collimates daylight that can be re-directed, and evenly distributed across ceilings and walls to create a lighting experience of the highest quality.

• Eliminates traditional problems of discomfort with direct beam and hot spots that skylights create in the middle of the day when the sun if directly overhead, and redirects light evenly across the ceiling for a warm, inviting, and productive environment.

• Changes the paradigm “Electric lights first, and add Daylight wherever you can.” Sundolier will deliver enough daylight to displace electric lights in blue sky conditions, and then adds electric lights when needed.

• Four-to-twelve times reduction in the number of roof penetrations and total area required by skylights, thereby reduces the potential for leaks when compared to traditional skylights.

• Fewer holes in the roof translate to better energy efficiency as Sundolier reduces energy lost through traditional skylights.

• Easy to integrate with electric lighting to provide a hybrid “daylight / electric light system.” Soon, Sunflower will offer hybrid solutions that ensure the electric lights are turned off that prevent occupant overrides when they are not needed.

Peer-reviewed scientific studies have proven that daylighting improves human wellness and productivity. Students learn up to 21% faster. People in offices are up to 23% more productive. The improved interior environment created by daylight leads customers to purchase more in retail environments—1-7% sales increases on average, with proven results of up to 40% greater sales for spaces converted from no daylight to the best daylight conditions.


Relevant book:
Heating, Cooling, Lighting: Sustainable Design Methods for Architect


Sundolier by Sunflower Corporation