What is a solar tube?

Solar tube Smart LEDTraditional skylights are a good way to bring natural light into your home, but the cost of installation can be prohibitive for many people. Some smaller spaces and rooms may not have the roof area to install a skylight, which is where solar tubes become an excellent alternative option. But what is a solar tube?

Solar tubes are an inexpensive, convenient way to bring natural light into your home. They are bright, practical, and energy-efficient. They provide as much light, and occasionally more than a light bulb. And because it’s sunlight, light from solar tubes is a softer, more comfortable natural light.

What are solar tubes?

Also known as light tubes, sun tunnels, daylight pipes, sun scopes, and tubular skylights, they basically do what skylights do, but in a different form. Think of them as periscopes from your room to your roof. Solar tubes are pipes – often about 10 to 22 inches in diameter – that run through the ceiling of your home, bringing light from the roof to your room.

At the top end, there’s a clear, weather-proof plastic or acrylic dome that allows sunlight to enter. Most commonly, the sheet metal pipe has a polished interior or is lined with reflective material that amplifies the light as it passes through. The dome can be either clear or obscured.

At the bottom of the unit, the place where the sun tunnel opens into your home, a diffuser spreads out the light. This allows it to disperse and fill the room with a surprisingly strong, bright glow. In fact, due to their clever design, they provide more light than even a much larger skylight.

What are the benefits of having solar tubes?

A 10-inch tube will provide about what you get from three 100-watt bulbs, and can easily illuminate a 200-square-foot area. A 14-inch tube will work more than adequately for a 300-square-foot space. Cost-effective in not only installation, the bright light from solar tubes means no more daylight light bulb usage, saving you money on your electric bill.

When you live in Oregon or Southwest Washington, it’s critical to take advantage of all of the sunlight we get, especially in the winter months. A solar tube is an easy way to soak up all of that vitamin D without ever leaving your house.

Some solar tubes are made to store some of that energy during the day to light a room during the night, too. They can charge during the daylight areas and then power artificial lights during the night. So not only are you saving money during the day, but you can also get some free light during the evening hours.

Solar tubes are so convenient and bright, that you may find yourself reaching for the light switch as you leave the room, only to remember that it’s your solar tube lighting your room, not a light bulb. However, because of their size, you won’t get as much of a view of the sky as you would with a skylight.

Solar tubes also work best for roofs that are sloped between 15 and 60 degrees. Tubes designed for flat roofs are rare and roofs at a greater slope may not be compatible with this type of lighting, either. If you’re unsure of the slope of your roof, you may want to talk to a professional roofing contractor to see if a tube is right for you.

Easy installation brings light to every room

In all, it takes about four hours to install, that’s it. Installation of a solar tube doesn’t require any painting, drywalling, or changes to the structure of your home, which makes it much more convenient and much less expensive to install than skylights.

Now, those once-dark rooms where it’s sometimes difficult to get natural light in like the laundry room, hallways, closets, and bathrooms don’t have to be so dreary anymore. You can bring daylight where it didn’t exist before. You won’t see the heat gains that you would from a skylight, however.

If you’re planning on doing the installation yourself, make sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions. Remember, you’re cutting a substantial hole in your roof to add a solar tube. When installing the tube, you need to make sure all the pieces fit together snuggly and are properly sealed. If not, the tube could get cloudy during times of high humidity.

You also need to make sure the flashing around the tube where it meets the roof is installed correctly, too. Any spaces or gaps will lead to leaks, which can cause massive amounts of damage if not immediately addressed. You could also ruin the solar tube itself.

Solar tube installation in Southwest Washington

If you would like your solar tube professionally installed, consider Warner Roofing. We’re reliable and have years of experience bringing natural, bright light into your home through skylight alternatives like solar tubes. Let us show you just how sunny your life can be with solar tubes from Warner Roofing & Construction.

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