Understanding The Sunflower’s Light – The Attic

The Sunflower is a great way to bring more sunlight inside during the daytime.  But one of the questions we’re frequently asked is “How does the Sunflower’s light look in a room?”  We’ll usually respond by telling you that you will see the Sunflower’s reflection on the ceiling or wall where you direct it, but the whole room will light up because, if you direct the Sunflower’s reflection at a painted ceiling or wall, then the light will bounce all over the room.

This makes sense in theory, but we’ve found that it’s still a bit hard to visualize what the Sunflower’s reflected light will actually look like.  Here is a unique situation where the Sunflower can’t light up a whole room, we thought it would be useful to look at in order to better understand how the Sunflower’s reflected light behaves.  The Sunflower has a tough time lighting up this whole room mainly because the room is excessively large (1,500 sq. ft.) and unfinished — meaning there are open rafters and no proper walls.  Without the ceiling and walls, the Sunflower struggles to light up the whole room because its light gets lost amongst the woodwork.

We’ll call this room the attic, it’s the top floor of a garage that never gets any direct sunlight (you can see that the house and the garage in this picture are surrounded by trees!).  So we thought we would aim the Sunflower into one of the attic windows to see what the light looked like and felt like coming into a large, unfurnished area.



Sunflower making its way to the window…

Sunflower on target!

Now, let’s take a look inside!

The far window (labeled “Sunflower window”) is the one we’ve used the Sunflower to direct sunlight through.  Notice the warmth resonating in front of that window, which contrasts with the cooler light coming through the “Regular window” (which is lit by sunlight alone — no Sunflower).  You may also notice that the light coming through the Sunflower’s window stretches all the way across the width of the room’s floor.  Whereas the light coming through the regular window only spreads about halfway across the width of the room’s floor.

Another interesting point of comparison to make is between the front regular window (which you can see in full view) and the Sunflower lit window.  The front window, at this time of day (early afternoon), is able to receive more direct sunlight than the side windows.  Notice how the light in front of the front window appears cooler in color, just like the regular window on the lefthand side.  But the light in front of the front window looks brighter than the light coming from both of the side windows.  This brighter light does not spread as far as the light coming from the Sunflower’s window does, and this is due to the angle of the sunlight coming through the window.


Viewing this light from another angle…

(the differences in brightness between these two pictures is due to the camera adjusting for brightness)

You can notice in both pictures that the Sunflower window has brighter and warmer light coming through it.  You can still see that the Sunflower window’s light reaches farther across the room and stands out more brightly against the ceiling.

In terms of understanding the “actual brightness” of the room overall, the 2nd brighter picture is a more accurate representation than the darker picture.  We’ve included the darker pictures to help you see how far the light spreads and the quality of the light as compared to the natural light.  But from the lighter and closer to reality picture, you can see that the Sunflower acutally is not very effective in providing enough light to this whole room.

Reasons the Sunflower isn’t very effective in this case:

  • All of the room’s surfaces are plain brown wood: the dark color and lattice work create a situation in which light reflected onto it becomes absorbed and lost rather than bouncing around.
  • This room is quite large (1,500 sq. ft.). The size of the room would be tough to illuminate overall with one Sunflower even if there were proper walls and a ceiling. But if there were proper walls and a ceiling, you would be able to light up a significant area of the room with one Sunflower.

 Some dusty proof of the sun’s rays coming through the window

So don’t make too much fun of our dusty storage space, but we thought churning up some dust and taking a picture of it would help you to see the Sunflower redirecting the sun’s rays through this window.  If we didn’t have these bright rays pouring in through the window, it wouldn’t be as easy to see the dust!