Solar is one of how homeowners wish to improve their homes and, in the same way, try to reduce costs.
Tubular skylights are quite popular, yet there are still many homeowners who are not keen on the idea of them and would rather have a skylight to light their home.
Our guide looks at the potential drawbacks to solar tube lighting to see if it is an option best forgotten, and you should opt for a skylight instead.
By the end, you’ll have a much better understanding of a solar lighting tube and if you should go against the grain and have them. (Find the Best Solar Powered Lights For Outdoors)
What are solar tubes?
Solar tubes go by many names such as “sun tunnels”, “light tubes”, “daylight pipes”, and many more. The aim of these is focus daylight into your home where it is diffused to like dark areas.
A solar tube lighting system design doesn’t let you see out, yet they provide natural, cost-effective ways to illuminate without electricity.
Since they are small, you can place solar tube lighting between roof rafters. Solar tube domes are engineered to channel as much solar energy and light as they can down the tunnel.
The tube length can be extended and is lined with a super-reflective “continuous mirror” coating.
Are Solar Tubes Worth It?
A tubular skylight has an advantage above skylights as they can increase energy efficiency in your home, particularly if you live in a hot region.
Skylights allow lots of direct sunlight to get in homes and thus raise the inside temperature. As a result, you can run air conditioning longer and increase costs. Indirect light from your sun tunnel transmits far less heat and thus presents more efficient air conditioning usage.
You can’t find a much cheaper way to get onto the solar power bandwagon than installing solar tube lighting. They are inexpensive, easy to install and can reduce lighting costs.
However, they don’t open; you can’t see the sky, and most models don’t offer light at night. The drawbacks of solar tubing are not many, and they can be great solutions to allow natural light into rooms where a skylight wouldn’t go. (Read Light Bulb Sizes)
Do Solar Tubes Work at Night?
Generally speaking, your solar tubes won’t offer any lighting solution at night. They work to take the suns natural light and pass this through the highly reflective tube until it emits in the room you have the other end.
However, some manufacturers include a small solar panel as the energy source to power small LED lights that illuminate from dusk until the following morning.
While light from the tubular skylight may not be as bright as your regular bulbs, they never need changing and can last overnight on one day’s full charge.
How Much Does a Solatube Cost?
It isn’t easy to put prices on a solar tube cost as there are many variables to consider. However, as a rough guide, you can check here.
There is a much easier installation with solar tube lighting, and there are far fewer material costs in the process.
Solar tubes can offer a considerable amount of natural light if you have them scattered around and make a smaller dent in your budget than installing a skylight.
As a rough estimate, a solar tube installation should cost less than half the price of a skylight. For instance, solar tube lighting may cost around $500 to $1000, while skylights can cost $2000 and up. (Find the Best Rechargable Flashlight)
Which is Better Solar Tube or Skylight?
When you want to know which is better, a solar tube skylight system or a conventional skylight, you need to consider a lot. Once installed, there are pros and cons to each.
Here you can find a breakdown of each to compare both sources’ benefits that can bring daylight into your home.
Tubular skylights let natural light travel through a solar tube (around 10 inch) to provide natural daylight. Tubular skylights require no maintenance nor repair.
Besides just letting in light, they increase the amount of light collected via the roof dome and possess the ability to filter out UV rays, which are harmful and can fade items inside your home.
Tubular skylights won’t contribute to heat gathering like traditional skylights that you may need to open and close to compensate.
Pros of Tubular Skylights
- Good investment because of minimal maintenance or repair through the product life
- Preferred upgrades by realtors if selling your home
- Minimal installation construction and cost less to install
- Dimmer switches can be incorporated to block out light
- Leak-proof design
- Helps homes save money on electricity by natural lighting
- Tube lighting offers a natural source of daylight without glare or heat gain
- Tube lighting won’t lose heat or cooling
- Water condensation won’t accumulate
- Clothing or furniture won’t fade
Drawbacks of Solar Tube lights
- You can’t see the night sky through tube lighting.
- You can’t open solar tube lighting to let fresh air in.
- You need additional dimmer switch kits if you want to block the solar tube lighting.
Skylight Benefits and Downsides
Traditional Skylight Pros
- Traditional skylights can be manually closed or open, unlike solar tubes.
- They can be used for ventilation purposes.
- Can be left closed or open.
- Traditional skylights allow natural daylight into your office or home.
Cons of Traditional Skylights
- Traditional skylights can leak over time.
- Contributes to house heat gain as the sunlight is unfiltered.
- Wastes heating and cooling energy of your house.
- Causes sunlight glare in your room.
- Costs more to install as there has to be a hole cut in your ceiling.
- The unfiltered light source can fade color on clothes and furniture.
- Contain more damageable parts than sun tubes.
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