• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

ways to make better use of natural light

 
gardener & author
Posts: 2020
Location: Manitoba, Canada
621
cattle hugelkultur monies duck forest garden fish fungi earthworks building rocket stoves homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What are some ways that we can make better use of the free light coming from the sun to light our homes?

Having walls and floors with a lighter color comes to mind as a good starting point.
 
gardener
Posts: 1126
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
323
duck books chicken cooking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
1. Having surfaces outside that bounce and reflect the light through windows to inside.
2. Using shiny paint on indoor walls rather than eggshell or mat. We're so cloudy all winter that I did that when I repainted the boys rooms and have no regrets. I used Kitchen and Bath high gloss scrubbable  paint.
3. OUR Eco-village has a skylight and they decorated the tunnel with glass tiles and sections of mirrors to help bounce light. A solid mirror might blind people, but they used a bunch of strips and it seemed fine.
4. I wish solar tubes weren't so ridiculously expensive. I have a friend who installed a couple and was very pleased with them.
 
Posts: 802
Location: Bendigo , Australia
32
dog homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
glass fibres can transmit light around corners.
triple glazed windows and doors
light wells
clerestory windows
solar panels with no battery but direct connection to globes
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 1126
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
323
duck books chicken cooking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Daley wrote:

glass fibres can transmit light around corners

That makes sense since they're using fiber-optic cables for data now. Do you know of actual examples or info on how it's being done for use of lighting that starts with the sun? Don't worry if you don't - I can do some googling when I have time or get my "trying to get his engineering degree" son to look into it, since I speak chicken way better than I speak geek.
 
gardener & bricolagier
Posts: 3010
Location: SW Missouri
949
goat cat fungi books chicken earthworks food preservation cooking building homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jay Angler: I'm making solar tubes that are basically a light wood box, lined with old DVD disks. I get the local video store to toss their trash ones in a box for me. I think, after experimenting once so far, that I'm going to like the color of light output, and the weird scattering effect of it, I don't know if there's a word for turbulence when it's applied to light, diffusion is not quite the right one here. But it will be a LOT cheaper than the light wells, and the main price on those is that they are a skylight, with a tube, if you don't have to have all the roof leakage/sealing etc of a skylight, they are just overpriced. The tubes can be bought separately, OR good shiny aluminum metal rolls are for sale at hardware stores. Tinfoil reflects a lot, and so does mylar (or DVDs!) and all of these are lighter weight than mirrors, need less structure to hold them, and not dangerous if they come loose. I'll be putting ours to harvest light from the clerestory windows, and take it down to the basement, so no roof sealing required, the windows will already be watertight, and I want no roof penetrations to leak. Walls are always easier to water seal than a roof. Basic periscope type reflection turns light 90 degrees easily.

On the basic question that started this thread, depends on what you mean by "make better use of." Do you mean "(A) how can we get more ambient brightness in our houses without enlarging or adding windows" or "(B) how can we optimize how much light comes in our houses" or "(C) how can we move light from brighter to dimmer places in our houses?" All are good questions, all look like different answers to me. My answer to the light tubes thought is answering C.
 
gardener
Posts: 2983
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
129
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One very simple method (that must be designed into the house at construction) is to put windows next to adjoining walls instead of in the middle of walls. The entering light reflects off the adjoining wall and spreads the source, making the lighting more pleasant and probably more useful, versus having all the light going straight to the back or floor and leaving the exterior wall dark with a bright contrasting spot in it.

My mother designed our house like this in the late '50s and it worked very well.

Also, in a house where the concept can fit, clerestory windows in the center or north edge of a deep south-facing space can balance the light excellently without large north-facing windows. Our 15' x 25' living/dining room, narrow end south, has a row of clerestory windows across the middle that let winter sun straight onto the living room floor in the north half, and exclude summer sun due to overhangs. My house has a high clerestory window that lights the stairwell on the north wall of the house, and also bounces off the stairwell wall to balance the south light in the living room.
 
pollinator
Posts: 754
Location: Southern Illinois
142
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Shawn,

I can tell you what I did with my house, but this was done at construction and designed into the house itself.  We deliberately designed the house to take advantage of the natural landscape on which it would sit.  The spot was absolutely perfect from a light perspective.  The house is surrounded on the north and west sides by tall trees.  The west side was particularly important as those trees cast shade especially in the blazing hot summers we get.  We intentionally designed both northern and especially western protection into the design to help block cold northern winds and that awful, unbearable heat we get around 7:00pm in the summer when sunlight will blaze its way right through even the best of insulation.

We all designed the house with eastern and southern exposure.  We have windows on the east side to let in plenty of natural sunlight during the cooler morning hours.  We have a large window in our great room that lets in plenty of indirect ambient lighting even in summer heat.

The south side is where the real advantages come into play.  During the summer, the sun passes directly over the house and virtually no direct sunlight comes through the southern windows, so any light making its way in is indirect, ambient lighting that carries no appreciable heat.  In the winter, as the sun is lower in the sky at noon, the sunlight pours into the southern windows, bringing in a nice, warm (thermally and aesthetically) light into the house.  In our great room, we basically don’t need indoor lighting in the day as plenty of light comes in via the strategically placed windows.

We are further refining our heat management by placing shade trees around specific points of the house.

Last point.  Our great room is two stories high.  This was to let warm air during the winter rise up and heat the upstairs.  

Last, last point, we have installed sunsetter awnings on our western sliding glass doors to cut down on summer sun getting into the house.

We a very happy with our house, and we intentionally designed it to make use of direct sunlight in the winter and have strategic shade in the summer.

Eric
 
pollinator
Posts: 213
Location: nevada zone7
53
kids cat tiny house books chicken fiber arts homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
this is a good one. think ill be having them in my sheds n coop.
solar-bottle-bulbs_5029148639b41.jpg
[Thumbnail for solar-bottle-bulbs_5029148639b41.jpg]
 
John C Daley
Posts: 802
Location: Bendigo , Australia
32
dog homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
good idea
Potential spoiler;How would you seal the roof to prevent water leaks?
 
John C Daley
Posts: 802
Location: Bendigo , Australia
32
dog homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Solar lights with fibres

Solar light deep into buildings


 
master pollinator
Posts: 8740
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
716
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's a simple strategy that definitely brightens an existing room using the existing windows. Often, when light shines in, it will strike a piece of furniture or dark colored floor and be quickly converted to heat. Light  that strikes a white or mirrored window sill, will be reflected upward toward the ceiling. With the ceiling illuminated, every part of the room will get some.

I have used a small table covered in tin foil, set under the window, to get this effect. Something with a bit less glare, like brilliant white paint might be more suitable. Dress it up with some plants.
 
steward
Posts: 5050
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
1402
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In the greenhouse research I've done, they recommend painting any surfaces white to reflect light (unless they need to collect heat like water barrels or tomatoes).  They say not to use reflective mirrors or foil.  From what I've seen in my greenhouse, the flat white bounces most/all of the light that hits it in a nice diffuse way.  A mirror would reflect light but in a blazing beam.  If you're in that beam, you better be a sleeping cat or wearing sunglasses.  Anywhere else in the room, the mirror just looks like a darkish hole in the wall.

I like that ceiling bottle bulb idea.  Any idea how to keep it from freezing?  Maybe fill it with a clear oil instead of water?
 
steward
Posts: 4680
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
1558
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My family has a tradition of "going to bed with the chickens". In other words, if we go to bed when it gets dark, and get up when it gets light, then we don't need as much supplemental lighting.  I often find myself showering without turning on the bathroom light. I don't really need sight to take a shower.

I often plan my work schedule, for fussy little things that are best done with full illumination, for the middle of the day. Sure is more comfortable to do them under natural light than artificial.

When I owned a mortgage, I put skylights into every suitable room in the house.
 
Mike Jay Haasl
steward
Posts: 5050
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
1402
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We brightened up our kitchen dramatically by changing out the light fixture.  The original one was a 4 bulb florescent fixture with a dark oak frame.  It sucked every bit of light out of the middle of the ceiling.  We changed to recessed lights and now the light from the small window over the sink can bounce much further into the room.  We also took the dark shiny paneling off of the wall opposite the window.  Applesauce colored paint is much brighter than the dark 1980's style paneling.

If you have valence curtains (I think that's the right word for them), making sure they are high enough that they don't block light coming in through the windows is very helpful.  

Taking insect screens off the windows in the winter lets a decent amount more light in.

Our house is darker in the summer than in the winter.  Low sun angles and snow send a lot more light into the interior of the house.  Nothing you can really do about that other than to move your house as needed...
 
rubbery bacon. rubbery tiny ad:
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!