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FRIDAY FUNNY: Cashing In The Rays

Written by Heidi Schwartz. Posted in Energy, Friday Funny, Interiors

Tagged: , ,

Published on March 09, 2012 with No Comments

Keith McKinzie knows that many of America’s greatest inventions were laughed at when they first entered the marketplace. If he had feared such derision he would have given up long ago. But America’s green revolution–coupled with our energy challenges–has unleashed the confidence of this “crazy” inventor who risked all with unbridled passion.

Crazy? What about window blinds that, instead of blocking the rays from the sun, actually capture them to heat a facility.

McKinzie, a car dealer from Duluth, MN, had been tinkering with solar ideas for years. His “Eureka Moment” came when he envisioned and then developed a way to place a highly absorbent metal into a plastic sleeve to create natural convection that would result in capturing the sun’s heat, sucking the cold air off the floor and causing the hot air to rise and heat a space.

Masquerading as a vertical blind, the sun heated aluminum insert warms cool air which is drawn in the bottom and is heated as it rises and passes through the device. The air exits the top, re-entering the room at 120 to 140˚.

These blinds create passive energy… oil, coal, pumps, wiring, valves, antifreeze required. Thus no continuing expenses.

McKinzie convinced investors to back his dream and now his blinds, called Solar Choice, are gaining a foothold in the marketplace. Edward Leuck, a facility manager at the GE Healthcare Institute in Pewaukee, WI, operates training labs which teach heathcare workers to use medical diagnostic imaging equipment. The nature of the equipment is that the rooms often have to be dark but, at the same time, they have to be heated.

Leuck watched a demonstration of Solar Choice and deduced that he could heat the lab rooms while saving substantial costs on electricity. His projection turned out to exceed his expectations and now he plans to purchase more of Keith’s blinds.

Where should you put McKinzie’s blinds for peak energy? He says put them where your cat or dog would choose to sit in front of the sun’s rays–that’s where the blinds love to shine.

About Heidi Schwartz

Heidi Schwartz

Schwartz joined Group C Media in April 1989 as managing editor of Today's Facility Manager (TFM) magazine (formerly Business Interiors) where she was subsequently promoted to editor/co-publisher of the monthly trade magazine for facility management professionals. In September 2012, she took over the newly created position of internet director for TFM's parent company, Group C Media, where she is charged with developing content and creating online strategies for TFM and its sister publication, Business Facilities. Schwartz can be reached at

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