How are Solar Tubes Different from Sky Lights?

In any case, both skylights and solar tubes are great ways to bring natural light into your home.   They each carry their pros and cons, so we’ll explain a bit more about each below.

First, what’s the actual difference between the two?

You’re probably familiar with skylights, which are essentially windows set into the roof of your home. Solar tubes, on the other hand, are an acrylic or polycarbonate dome that catches the sunlight on your roof, then reflects it down metal tubes and into your attic, which shine onto a diffusing lens in the room’s ceiling. It looks like a typical light fixture in your room.

How are they installed?

Though the solar tube sounds more complex, the installation process is much quicker and easier. Usually the job takes as few as two hours and typically no more than half a day. Once the dome is attached, the tube and diffuser are then set in and ran through the attic, with the only leftover work being a bit of interior finishing.

Skylights, conversely, are a bit more of a process. This requires a rafter (or more) to be cut, and then a bit more finesse for the interior finish. The biggest complication comes with installing the flashing—that which keeps your roof from leaking.

What’s the cost difference?

Skylights are more expensive. Mostly it’s due to the more complex installation, and they also involve a lot of add-ons (UV protection, shades, remote control, etc).

Solar tubes, on the other hand, cost an average of ¼ (or less) than that of skylights do for installation. You can still add extra features, similar to those with skylights, but the big benefit here is the energy tax deduction (30%).

That said, skylights and solar tubes can add resale value for your home since they bring light into places that might be dark.

Energy efficiency

The biggest benefit with solar tubes over skylights is the amount of heat gain. Solar tubes capture and diffuse the heat, whereas skylights will let in direct sunlight. The difference is that vast amount of direct sunlight will ultimately result in energy loss.

What’s the final word?

As you can see, skylights and solar tubes bring their fair share of pros and cons for each. If appearance is top of mind for you then you may want skylights; otherwise, if cost and energy efficiency are your priorities you will want to consider solar tubes.

Either way, neither of these should be installed without a professional. Warner Roofing is your best bet for installing solar tubes in Vancouver, WA, and we are happy to offer an estimate.

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