Blog Post

BrightShelf – An Easy-to-Install, Easy-to-Maintain Lightshelf

UPDATE: This blog post and the GreenSpec product entry have been updated to reflect that BrightShelf is now manufactured by Hunter Douglas Contract.

BrightShelf is a custom-manufactured lightshelf with a unique curved profile to reflect sunlight deeply into a room. Photo: H&H Enterprises. Click on image to enlarge.

Another of the standout products I came across at the Greenbuild tradeshow in Chicago two weeks ago is BrightShelf, manufactured in Colorado by Hunter Douglas Contract . What struck me the moment I saw the product was its elegant simplicity.

BrightShelf is a lightweight, highly reflective, all-aluminum interior lightshelf with a curved profile that reflects sunlight deeper into a room than standard flat lightshelves. Also unique is a very simple mechanism for dropping the lightshelf down for cleaning or removal. The hinge-down mechanism works somewhat like the folding shelves on my Weber grill.

Like most interior lightshelves, BrightShelf is designed to be installed about two-thirds or three-quarters of the way up a tall window or glazing panel--above the vision plane. At this location, the lightshelf helps block direct-beam sunlight, which can cause uncomfortable glare, and bounces that light onto the ceiling. The S-shaped profile (an Ogee curve) spreads out the reflected light and extends it more deeply into the room, according to the manufacturer--see schematic. You can view a cool video on the company's website that shows how the reflected light on the ceiling varies throughout the course of the day.

The curved surface of BrightShelf reflects sunlight deeper into a room than standard, flat, lightshelves. Graphic: H&H Enterprises. Click on image to enlarge.

Product inventor Jim Huff told me about the history of BrightShelf. The company has been in business 30 years and fabricating exterior aluminum shading devices for 10 years. Clients would occasionally ask for interior lightshelves. Products on the market, though, were difficult to mount, hard to clean, and not terribly effective at reflecting light deeply into the room. Over dinner one night, the idea for BrightShelf came to them and they sketched it on a paper napkin. Six months later they had filed patent applications and were ready to go with manufacturing.

The BrightShelf was just introduced at Greenbuild, so there aren't yet many installations. The first units, pictured in this blog, were installed in the LEED-Gold-certified Denver office of RNL, considered one of the country's greenest architecture firms (the firm designed the net-zero-energy Research Support Facility building at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado). BrightShelf was installed this fall on five, large (5' wide by 8' tall), southwest-facing windows at the office.


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Note how deeply the reflected sunlight extends into the room in this photo. Photo: H&H Enterprises. Click on image to enlarge.

Richard Anderson, AIA, a senior principal at RNL believes the product has a lot of potential. "It appears to be very cost effective and easy to install even in a retrofit condition such as ours," he told me.  "The curved profile appears to be very effective in providing deeper daylight penetration," he said. While the manufacturers' employees installed the units, Anderson said that the installation was very quick--a half day at most--including time required to move existing window shades down so that they were below the lightshelves. "The install is very simple so I can't really envision any install problems occurring in most cases," Anderson told me. Cleaning the units will be extremely easy--"literally five minutes or less."

For more information:

Hunter Douglas Contract Solar Control

Poway, California


See more on this product in the GreenSpec Guide

Alex Wilson is the executive editor of Environmental Building News and founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. In addition to this product-of-the week blog, he writes the weekly Energy Solutions blog. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feeds.

Published December 2, 2010

(2010, December 2). BrightShelf – An Easy-to-Install, Easy-to-Maintain Lightshelf. Retrieved from–-easy-install-easy-maintain-lightshelf

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