Solar Tubes: All Your Questions Answered

Solar tubes are an eco-friendly architectural design that allows natural sunlight to illuminate spaces between buildings and in the urban environment.

Did you ever wish to light up the dark indoor areas of your home with natural light? Ta-da! You can buy a solar tube to make your wish come true!

Table of Contents

Why Invest in a Solar Tube?

Solar Tubes let you save on electricity by providing light to your homes during the day.

Solar tubes, also known as sun tunnels, can illuminate dark interior rooms without electricity. 

It channels sunlight from the roof down a highly reflective tube and into a specific area below. With solar tubes, areas of your house where it hasn’t been possible before for natural light to reach can now have it flowing profusely. 

They are made up of a semitransparent weatherproof head with a reflective pipe underside and are installed into the roof membrane to transmit sunshine to its aimed target in your house. The installation process usually doesn’t take longer than 2 hours, as long as you hire a professional to do it.

The tunnels are relatively small and can be conveniently set up between roof rafters. 

Solar tubes are not only managing the structural integrity of a house’s roof but also reduce the heat gains and losses. 

How Do They Work?

So, how do solar tubes work?

Solar tube heads are engineered optically to channel maximum light into the tunnel underneath and are available in various sizes ranging from 1-2 feet in diameter. They are generally kept safe with a translucent, weather-resistant acrylic head (dome).

The solar tube length can be exerted indefinitely and is run along with a “continuous mirror” with a super-reflective coating to expand the direct sunlight as it streams through to its proposed point. 

Many models deliver flexible, low-profile tubing, which facilitates the pain of cutting and placing the sheet metal as a homeowner might need to while using rigid solar tube models (We’ll explain what a rigid solar tube is).

The Different Options

Before you go ahead and start contacting the local solar tube provider, you ought to know the options you have available and decide which will suit your property better. 

The solar tube itself is available in two forms: rigid and flexible. Let’s take a look at what they are, their benefits, and their drawbacks.

Rigid Solar Tubes

Rigid solar tubes offer better light transmission than flexible tubes and also let the light channel down the tube from the roof to the rooms and other areas in direct motion. 

The Shaft For this Solar Tube Is made of Solid Material and Does not Bend

This is because the less the light resiles off the pipe’s inner surface, the more natural light will be transmitted in the desired room. As a whole, rigid solar tubes can deliver up to 20m of efficient light transmittance.

If you have a long distance to cover from the roof to the room (more than 2 meters), using a rigid solar tube would be better to channelize maximum daylight. If you require a bend in your tube, you’d think you’d be out of luck and have to resort to a flexible tube. Surprisingly, rigid solar tubes stand a better chance at delivering light through bends as the material used is much more reflective than that you’d find inside a flexible tube.

Flexible Solar Tubes

flexible solar tubing
The tube is flexible and can be bent as needed for installation.

Flexible solar tubes are an ideal choice for a shorter distance, particularly on flat roofs where a homeowner might need not more than a meter of the tube. These solar tubes are cheap and much better for a shorter distance. They let the users negotiate around any hurdle in the roof space. 

Still, because of the structure of a flexible tube, less light will reflect as compared to a rigid solar tube.

Why Should You Install Solar Tubes in Your Home?

solar tube lighting
Natural light is the healthiest light for your mood, eyes, and indoor plants.

From saving energy to exposing your property to more natural sunlight and improving your quality of living, solar tubes are quite worth the investment.

Having more light streaming through can also make your home look bigger. They can add aesthetics to a new building and deliver a warmer, more elegant, and ambient form of lighting than installing bright LED bulbs, which have also proven to be harmful to your eyes in the long term.

A home with environmentally friendly natural light offers countless benefits. Natural lights affect people’s mental health and mood. Many people have reported better sleep when their circadian rhythms are not disturbed by artificial lighting.

What are the drawbacks to solar tube lighting?

There are a few that are outweighed by the pros. Among other things, they don’t allow ventilation, they don’t let you see outside, and you may need to install a few to get adequate indoor lighting.

How Much Does the Installation of a Solar Tube Cost?

There are two elements that influence the cost of your solar tube. One is the price of the labor for installation. And the other is the price of the material. Hence, the cost of your solar tube is based on the length of the acrylic dome and reflective tubing and the labor for installation. Although the material cost will usually be the same across the board, the labor cost will vary.

Keeping that in mind, you can expect to pay between $500 to $1,100 for solar tube installation. This is a common estimation by leading solar tube brands.

What Size Tube is Best for Your Home?

Most solar tubes come in various sizes ranging from 250 to 500 mm in diameter. This offers a good range to choose from and decide according to the size of your indoor spaces. 

  • 250 mm solar tube is ideal for a space size of up to 10 square meters, like small bathrooms and hallways. 
  • 350 to 450 mm solar tubes are ideal for big rooms like stairwells, big hallways and bathrooms.
  • 550 mm solar tubes are a good choice for living rooms, bedrooms, and kitchens with a size of up to 15 to 22 square meters.

For a giant room, you can install multiple solar tubes if required.

Solar tubes are an elegant way to naturally brighten up dark areas in your home. 

They’re relatively easy to install for a fraction of the cost, and you’ll be saving money on electricity which will reduce your carbon footprint as well. 

The more natural light that can make it into your space, whether through skylights or solar tube lighting (or both!) is beneficial because studies show how important they are when it comes to health and mood while reducing costs at the same time. 

Traditional skylights offer unparalleled views of the sky, but if budget-friendly options like solar tubes exist with similar lighting benefits for more than half the price, it’s worth considering, right?

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