In my blog post “Mirrors to reflect the sun“, I described sun mirrors I put up to reflect winter sunlight to warm my house in NSW, Australia. They were just sheets of cooking foil taped to a north-facing courtyard wall, and I had to remove them each summer.
Now I have better and stronger mirrors: hinged panels that function winter and summer. In winter they reflect sunlight, and in summer they give shade.
These simple hinged mirror panels should improve the indoor climate due to my “Heat Control Courtyard“. Compared to heliostats (see links in a Note below) they are cheaper and will not set the house on fire!
This post is also available as a PDF file My better sun mirrors.
The mirror panels
I bought the mirror panels from builders supplies as “FoilBoard insulation panels”, 2440 mm X 1220 mm X 20 mm.
These are “aluminium composite bonded panels (ACP)” of rigid cellular expanded polystyrene (EPS) (20 mm) bonded between two layers of aluminium (less than 0.5 mm). One aluminium surface has 97% reflectance; the other is pre-finished in shades of green using a fluoropolymer resin paint system. [Cost of five panels: $230.]
The fragile FoilBoard insulation panels had to be stiffened with frames of aluminium angle, corner brackets, and braces of aluminium strip. [Cost: $380.]
I had the panels mounted on ten “hinges” that allow them to be held in two positions:
(A) flush against the courtyard wall to reflect the sun to the house in winter, or
(B) raised above horizontal to provide shade in summer.
These are standard hardware items called “Whitco Window Stays”. [Cost for ten: $430.] Here, they operate as hinges, using friction to secure the mirror panels at any angle. [I must thank my builder, Keith Freeman, for selecting and using them in this way.]
Work on the new sun mirror panels began on 1 December 2019 and ended on 24 January 2020. Labour cost about $1800, while materials (given above) cost about $1050.
As soon as the work was done, I set the mirrors to provide summer shade until the end of February 2020. Then I re-set them to reflect winter sunshine until now (2 September 2020).
The finished mirror panels
Because the effect of the mirror panels depends on the seasonal path of the sun, I took separate sets of photos in June, to represent the eight winter months (March to October) when they acted as mirrors and in February, to represent the four summer months (November to February) when they acted as shades. Photos of hinge details were taken in February.