Frequently asked questions
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Product description and functionality
- What is Virtual Sun?
- How does Virtual Sun show a 3 dimensional image of the sun far away?
- Can Virtual Sun be installed in a wall?
Product safety and considerations
- Is Virtual Sun safe near light sensitive art pieces such as photographs, paintings, and sculptures?
- What Safety Certifications does Innerscene have?
Installation and technical requirements
- How do I install Virtual Sun?
- Do Virtual Sun run on 110V or 240V?
- How much power is needed to run Virtual Sun?
Product comparisons and benefits
- What are the advantages of Virtual Sun compared with a real skylight?
- How does Virtual Sun compare with other artificial skylights that have a visible sun?
- How does Virtual Sun compare to a light tube?
Product description and functionality
Many people are familiar with Virtual Reality headsets which work by placing a lens between your eye and an LCD screen. When you see the LCD screen through the lens, the image appears to be very far away.
Innerscene invented & patented a new technology that allows us to combine a large number of small images into a single large display that can be viewed without wearing something on your face. This is different from 3d TV technologies such as shutter/polarizing glasses that show different images to your left and right.
Virtual Sun emits only visible light with almost no UV. UV light can damage eyes, skin, and non-organic material. Because of this real windows and skylights typically have films that reflect the majority UV light before it enters your home/office.
If you want to promote Vitamin D production, you will still need to go outside. Some doctors recommend getting 10-30 minutes of sun exposure a few times per week to help our bodies produce Vitamin D, however care should be taken as too much UV can burn our skin, damage our eyes, and lead to skin cancer.
Whether a plant will grow and thrive under Virtual Sun depends on a number of factors, including the type of plant, the number of Virtual Sun units you have installed, the distance of the plant from the light source, and the light cycle you use. Low-light and office plants should grow relatively well under one Virtual Sun at a distance of 5-6 feet or less if placed directly in the sunbeam. To see a time-lapse video of some bean plants growing from seed to full maturity, check out this video:
Using your wall dimmer, you are able to select different modes and outputs for your Virtual Sun unit. When Circadian Rhythm Cycle Mode is selected on your Virtual Sun unit, the brightness and CCT will automatically vary over time. The table below shows the default output at different times of the day. The changes happen slowly over the course of the entire day. Circadian Rhythm Mode can be selected by setting your 0-10V dimmer to 2.5V or 25% output, or if you purchased a pre-configured remote from Innerscene, selecting the appropriate button. Sunset and sunrise times are calculated by your unit using the current time and your longitude and latitude location on the earth. Typically, this info is programmed into your unit at the factory before it is shipped to you but information can be changed using our Bluetooth application if needed.
Visit our Control’s Guide for more information about mode selections.
Warmest CCT = 3000K
White CCT = 4000K
Coolest CCT = 18000K
|Time||Setting at the end of time period|
|+2hr after sunset to -2 hr before sunrise||Moon setting|
|-1hr before sunrise||Warmest CCT at 25% brightness|
|Sunrise||Warmest CCT at 75% brightness|
|1.5hr after sunrise to 2hr after sunrise||White CCT at 100% brightness|
|Midday -1hr to Midday +1hr||Coolest CCT at 100% brightness|
|Sunset -2hr to sunset -1hr||White CCT at 100% brightness|
|Sunset||Warmest CCT at 75% brightness|
|Sunset +1hr||Warmest CCT at 25% brightness|
|Sunset +2hr||Moon setting|
Virtual Sun combines the light from hundreds of LEDs to produce high CRI light out (90+) across a wide range of CCTs. Learn more about CRI and why this is important here.
Learn more about CRI and why this is important here.
How is the angle of the sun determined?
Virtual Sun units have a label on the end of the unit indicating the direction of the sun after they are powered on. The sun beam will always exit at a 30 degree from nadir relative to the fixture as shown in the images below.
Relative to the long dimension of a Virtual Sun unit, there is no angle.
If a unit is installed in a wall or parallel to a sloped surface, the 30 degree sun exit angle will be relative to the installation angle of the unit.
Many people who sit under Virtual Sun tell us they feel the heat of the sun radiating on their skin, however according to our instruments this feeling is purely psychological.
Like all electric lights, Virtual Sun produces some heat as a byproduct of its operation, however this heat is diffuse and not directed in a beam like real sunshine. In work environments, sitting under direct sunlight can quickly become uncomfortable because of the heat it produces and the UV light which burns our skin.
No, not when installed in a ceiling. Lighting Designers recommend that you either use large diffuse light fixtures or shielded directional light fixtures to eliminate glare issues.
Virtual Sun emits two light components:
- A diffuse light component that is evenly distributed across the entire fixture. This light radiates in 180 degrees and reaches all parts of a room to provide even illumination. This component is what we perceive as the sky when we look at the fixture. Because the diffuse light is spread evenly over a large surface it doesn’t produce noticeable glare.
- A sunlight component that remains in a tight rectangular beam. This light component emits at a 30 degree angle from the fixture and has a 2.5 degree divergence angle.
Product safety and considerations
Below is a spractal plot showing UV and visible wavelengths emitted by Virtual Sun. The UV spectrum is circled in red. According to our measurements, the UV light component is approximately 0.41µW/cm2 with 10,000 lux at the surface of the unit that falls off exponentially with distance. The Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts suggest a maximum of UV radiation of 75µW/lm with an ideal range of 0-10uW. At 0.41µW/cm2 Virtual Sun is considered safe to use even with the most expensive artwork in the world. For light planning in museums and art galleries, the total lux level should also be considered. If you are planning to use Innerscene in a gallery environment consult with us a more detailed light study. Innerscene can be easily integrated with timers and motion sensors to limit light output during off hours to reduce average lux levels while providing a great user experience.
Virtual Sun is not rated for insulation contact and needs to remain clear of insulation materials to ensure that it does not overheat.
At maximum intensity, Virtual Sun uses 200W of energy which is turned into heat either through light absorption in the room or through heat emissions from LED and power supply losses. The lifetime of LEDs is determined largely by how cool they remain during operation.
Virtual Sun has internal temperature sensors that check for over temperature conditions and will automatically dim to ensure longevity. Because this temperature based dining occurs very slowly, typically it would not be noticeable or visible to inhabitants in the room. Depending on your construction with multiple Virtual Sun units, heating unevenly due to some units being exposed to open air and some being encapsulated in structure. If Virtual Sun units are connected to each other via an ethernet switch, all units on the same network will dim to the same level as the hottest unit to ensure consistent brightness across the array.
To ensure the longest lifetime for your LEDs and that the maximum brightness can be achieved, Innerscene recommends creating a small void near the top of the units of 1-2 inches where air flow can occur. This void can be partially obstructed to accommodate structural support members. For arrays of 4 or more units, it is also recommended you ensure adequate ventilation or cooling of the plenum space such that it stays under the published maximum operating temperature specified in our datasheet.
Rooms that have Virtual Sun installed will experience additional heat and may require climate control during the warmer months of the year.
Installation and technical requirements
For each unit, power (Ground, Live, Neutral) and data cables need to be attached. When units are installed in an array, one unit will be designated as “MASTER” and will control the other units in an array. The master requires 2 wires for 0-10V based dimming or DALI Type 8 based dimming control. If you don’t need to integrate with an existing lighting control platform, Innerscene can provide a dimming module and wireless wall mountable control unit. For more details on controls, please refer to our controls guide here:
Virtual Sun requires a minimum of 10inches / 254mm to be installed flushed with the ceiling. We also recommend at least one foot of clearance from a person’s head to the bottom surface of Virtual Sun. If you have extra ceiling space available, we recommend creating a recessed light well area so Virtual Sun’s bottom surface is higher than the bottom of the ceiling. For unfinished ceilings, a section of the ceiling can be dropped as shown below:
If you are working in an space with limited ceiling space above, two possible options to consider include:
- Install Virtual Sun such that it is partially recessed above the ceiling and it partially extends below the surface of the ceiling. For this type of installation, you need to build framing around the sides of the unit to cover surfaces that extend below the ceiling.
- Install Virtual Sun into the corner of a ceiling and a wall at an angle as shown below. For this type of installation you will have limited head height near the edge of your walls.
- Drop a small section of your ceiling as shown below.
Product comparisons and benefits
Supported locations. Real skylights can only be installed where physical access to the roof is available, whereas Virtual Sun can be installed on any floor or in locations where the roof structure cannot be modified for technical or zoning reasons.
Water ingress. It has been said that there are two kinds of skylights; those that leak, and those that are going to leak. Virtual Sun never leaks.
Condensation. Because of the high thermal difference between the outside of a skylight and the inside, real skylights typically produce condensation which creates ugly water marks after the water evaporates.
Heat Loss. Heating represents 50% of global energy consumption and the largest energy end-use and contributes 40% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. A real skylight in a roof of a house will typically lose 35-45% more heat during colder weather than the exact same window on the side of a house. Using Virtual Sun doesn’t contribute to heat loss, however Virtual Sun may require climate control for rooms in warmer climates.
24/7 availability. Real skylights only provide light during normal daylight hours. Depending on the time of year and geographic location this can be fairly limited, for example the city of Rjukan in Norway goes 6 months per year without a single drop of sunlight and even cities like London receive fewer than 8 hours of daylight in the winter.
Building shadows. Dense cities like New York and Hong Kong have many buildings that are always in the shadow of other buildings and receive little direct sunlight even on the sunniest days of the year. In more rural locations, hillside preservation ordinances or aesthetic goals may limit tree removal / trimming which can block the majority of sunlight available for a given room.
Weather independent. Even the sunniest cities in the world have dark & stormy days where very little sunlight is present.
Cleaning. Real skylights naturally get dirty from rain, dirt, leaves, and other debris and need regular cleaning. Depending on the difficulty of accessing the roof, the cost of cleaning can be significant over a 10 year period in comparison to the price of the skylight itself. Virtual Sun does not not need regular cleaning because it is not exposed to external elements.
Structural integrity. In locations where snow pack is common, the strength of the roof structure increases in importance. Cutting holes in the roof to allow for installation of real skylight can add significant cost due to the need for extra structural reinforcement. Virtual Sun can be installed without modifying the external roof structure.
Glare. In work environments, direct and indirect sunlight can cause issues with glare that requires the use of manual or mechanical shades. Virtual Sun’s sunbeam always remains at a constant angle of 30 degrees which does not cause glare issues.
UV Light. Natural sunlight contains high amounts of UV light which can cause premature aging, sun burns, eye damage, and even cancer when exposed for extended periods of time. Most skylights will have some UV filters to reduce this exposure, however even the best filters do not block all the UV light. It can be hazardous to a person's health to work directly under a real skylight for this reason. Virtual Sun does not emit UV Light and it’s safe to work under for long periods of time.
IR & Heat. Natural sunlight contains a percentage of IR and near-IR light which we feel as heat on our skin. While this experience of heat can feel nice for a short period of time, working under a real skylight for a long period of time would be uncomfortable and require the use of shades, climate control, and dressing in layers to try to adapt to rapid changes in temperatures. Virtual Sun emits heat only diffusely which would heat a room evenly. Virtual Sun’s sunbeams contain minimal IR energy making it comfortable to sit & work under all day long.
CCT Control. Unlike a real skylight, Virtual Sun allows users to change the CCT of light in the room on demand allowing for relaxing warm temperatures at the beginning and end of your day and bright blue skies when you need to be awake and alert. While real skylights can be partially dimmed using manual or mechanical shades, on a cloudy or stormy day, the maximum brightness and CCT in the room are outside of your control.
No other product on the market produces a clearly visible sun located at infinity in a compact form factor with adjustable CCT output.
For a comparison with the closest competing product, visit the Competitor Comparison page.
Light tubes allow you to capture light from a roof and tunnel it to an interior room.
The advantage of a light tube is low installation cost and no electricity consumed. Comparison of the two technologies:
|Light tube||Virtual Sun|
|Visible blue sky?||No, only diffuse white spot||Yes|
|Visible sun in the sky?||No, only diffuse white spot||Yes|
|Cast sunbeams into the room?||No, emits 180° diffuse light||Yes|
|3d dimensional appearance?||No||Yes|
|Adjustable CCT?||No direct control||Yes|
|Works on cloudy days?||Partially||Yes|
|Works during non-daylight hours?||No||Yes|
|Requires regular cleaning?||Yes||No|
|Ability to dim/brighten?||No||Yes|
|Can be installed anywhere?||No, requires access to roof||Yes|
In a study of 108 retail stores, where 2/3rd had skylights and 1/3rd did not, it was found that stores with skylights have significantly higher sales after controlling for other differences between store locations.
“Skylights were found to be positively and significantly correlated to higher sales. All other things being equal, an average non-skylit store in the chain would likely have 40% higher sales with the addition of skylights, with a probable range between 31% and 49%”
Product manufacturing and service
Innerscene Virtual Sun Model A7 has a 5 year warranty.
Purchase Terms & Conditions can be found on the Terms and Conditions page