Skylights and solar tubes are two of the most traditional ways to bring additional natural light into the home. When done right, they fit seamlessly into the rest of the home while adding a point of interest to the overall aesthetic of the home both inside and out. And natural light costs a lot less than artificial light sources!
The key, of course, is making sure they are installed by professionals. Anytime you decide to cut a hole in your roof you want to make sure it’s properly sealed. Because no matter how good something looks or how much natural light it offers, you’ll be looking at major headaches in the near future if they’re installed incorrectly.
Drawbacks to Solar Tube Lighting
Leaks are a problem that concern every part of your roof, but what specific disadvantages are there to solar tubes? For starters, they just don’t let in as much light as skylights do. In most cases, solar tube domes aren’t clear, which cuts down on the natural light almost immediately.
Beyond that, the light is concentrated in one specific area because of the tube. In some cases, the tube could be several feet long, which will diffuse the light even more. Traditional solar tubes are 10 to 14 inches wide, so are only good for lighting small areas during the day. An ideal light source for a small bathroom, not so for a master suite.
Solar tubes are also designed for roofs that have a standard slope, anywhere from 15 to 60 degrees. If the roof has a steeper slope or is flat, you may find it difficult to find an appropriate product. And while some tubular skylights have flexible tubing, any bends will cut down on the light even more.
Also, if your attic is quite spacious, placing a solar tube might be difficult, too. The recommended maximum length of a solar tube is around 20 inches. Anything longer will reduce the light and could even affect the energy efficiency and electricity bills of your home. While aluminum (the most widely used material in solar tubes) is a great conductor of heat, it has a lousy R-value.
If there’s an issue with the solar tube, it could be some time before you realize it. If a skylight is leaking or is falling victim to water damage, it’s pretty obvious. However, if a solar tube is leaking into your attic, you may not realize it until the damage is done.
However, there are some advantages to a solar tube lighting system. Solar tubes are more cost-effective than skylights, at least when it comes to initial costs. When installing a skylight, there is much more finishing work on the interior of the home than with a solar tube, too.
Work with Experience
Regardless of whether you go with a solar tube, skylight, or a combination of the two, you’ll want to work with a professional roofing contractor. Warner Roofing and Construction has been working with roofing systems since 1992 and has the experience to ensure your roof remains sound and steadfast against Pacific Northwest weather.
As we said before: While aesthetics are important, having a roof that doesn’t leak is one of the most important aspects of any home. Unless you have prior experience installing solar tubes, we recommend getting in touch with Warner Roofing and Construction for all of your installation needs.