Solar Tubes: Pros and Cons (Benefits & Drawbacks of Solar Tunnels)

The best use of solar tubes is that it serves as an alternative to artificial light. Solar tube lighting could be a good option for you if your home has few windows and you want to add a little more brightness naturally.

Solar tubes boast countless benefits; here are a few you should know about:

  • Solar tubes provide the equivalent of three 100-watt bulbs
  • They increase the light in your room without any ongoing cost.
  • They are much cheaper than traditional skylights (but they are not the same).
The concept of solar tubes is simple, you have a tube that provides lighting to your home during the day.

When used in place of skylights in a building, solar tubes, or sun tunnels, allow the building’s interior to be illuminated by natural sunlight. Sunlight is directed into a metallic tube through a clear cover that extends from your roof. As a continuous mirror, highly reflective polished sheet metal material channels the natural light down the tube and into your building.

Although most solar tubes do not produce electricity, in some newer products, there are photovoltaic technologies to provide artificial lighting when the sun is not shining. 

The best use of solar tubes is as an alternative to natural solar tunnels, rather than replacing electric lighting. 

Despite the fact that they do not provide a view of the sky like solar tunnels do, they are usually less expensive and easier to install than solar tunnels.

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How Much Do Solar Tubes Cost?

Compared to traditional skylights, solar tubes are easier to install and cost quite a lot less. The cost of installing a solar tube is, on average, half that of installing a skylight. A solar tube might cost something between $500 and $1,000, whereas a skylight will cost you a few thousand dollars.

Pros of Sun Tunnels

The sun tunnel system is best for people who want natural light but also want protection from excess heat. It is also great for those who have trouble opening or closing standard window blinds due to limited mobility and disabilities, as they do not require any lifting or reaching while being opened or closed.

Let’s take a look at some other pros!

Free Lighting

Save electricity during the day with these Solar Tubes

One 10-inch solar tube provides the equivalent of three 100-watt bulbs on a sunny day. To illuminate a 200 square foot office or to provide enough light for less visual activities such as taking a shower or folding laundry, this amount of light is sufficient for both tasks. 

On sunny or even partly cloudy days, you will not need an electric light. You will save money while gaining additional convenience. If you need light at night as well, choose a solar tube model with an electric light built-in to the tube.

Design Flexibility

As a result of their size, solar tunnels are easily spotted when entering a room. Instead, solar tubes are subtle design elements that add light without attracting attention. 

Solar tubes allow you to increase the amount of light in your living room or bedroom without modifying the room’s architecture. This makes them a practical way to brighten up a dark hallway or pantry that is smaller than a traditional solar tunnel.

Lower Risk of Leaks 

Traditional solar tunnels have a reputation for leaking. Because they collect leaves and other debris, rain and snowmelt cannot drain off the roof. The accumulated water then makes its way under the roofing material and up to your ceiling, where it can cause damage. 

Small, relatively flat domes on solar tubes make them less prone to leaks.

Cost-Effective Installation 

Solar tubes may appear to be an expensive luxury, but they are not. Installing the tubes is less costly than installing solar tunnels because they do not require any drywall or structure modifications. Installation by a professional often costs less than $1000 in most parts of the United States.

You can install solar tubes by yourself for less than $500. However, employing a professional for more intricate installations that entail fitting the tube around wires, pipes, or air ducts can yield better results.

Cons of Solar Tunnel

Because of their compact size, solar tubes offer fewer options for managing the amount of light entering a room.

Fewer Options for Control

A solar tunnel gives you more control over the quality of light you let in. Skylight shades are similar to window shades, but skylight diffusers offer a wide range of alternatives for dispersing light in the room, as well. You can also use a UV-blocking film to protect your rugs and furnishings from fading. Vented solar tunnels allow you to enjoy the sun and fresh air simultaneously by opening the skylight like an awning window.

It is not possible to cover or ventilate solar tubes. There is a limited selection of diffusers and window film available for use with solar tunnels.

Little Design Improvement 

Adding a solar tunnel to a room can make it appear larger and airier and provide a constantly changing view of the passing clouds. Luxurious and connected to nature, they create a relaxing atmosphere. But most solar tubes are too small to make a noticeable difference in the appearance of a room, and they do not allow you to view much of the outside world from within the room.

Not Suitable for All Homes 

You may be unable to install solar tubes because of the sort of roof you have. A roof slope of between 15 and 60 degrees is ideal for most solar tubes. Look for tubular solar tunnels that are built explicitly for flat roofs if you have one. 

Not all roof types are the same and can have these solar tubes installed

An A-frame roof, for example, may not be suitable for installation. Asphalt or wood shingle roofs are the most common roof types for DIY solar tube installation kits. There is a need for an adapter if you have a tiled or metal roof.

Condensation on the inside of the tube is common in humid climates. Before installing the tube, you can minimize this problem by wrapping it with R-15 batt insulation.

A solar tube is a practical solution if your home could use a little more light – primarily in the smaller rooms – but you do not want to spend a lot or change the look of your rooms. On the other hand, for those who want to make a big impression on the appearance of their rooms and are willing to pay for it, a classic solar tunnel may be the best option.


Bright windows transform a room’s atmosphere. From being dismal to being warm and inviting, space is transformed by natural light. Solar tube lighting could be a good option for you if your home has few windows and you want to add a little extra brightness.

Your decision about solar tubes should be based on your knowledge of the pros and cons of this renewable light source. These lighting systems will become more versatile and aesthetically pleasing as technology improves. Despite the fact that solar tube lighting systems have several problems, new advances may soon eliminate them.

When contemplating the installation of solar tube lighting, there are a number of factors to consider. This guide should have given you a good idea of whether solar tube lighting is right for you or not.  

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