What Are Solar Tubes?

The Kitchen Master

A common concern we hear from homeowners is that they’d like to bring more natural light into their living spaces. We understand completely. Not only is natural light beautiful and uplifting, but it also minimizes cost and energy usage of electric lighting. While adding windows or skylights are both great options, we want to introduce you to one of our favorites: solar tubes.

Solar tubes (sometimes referred to as sun tubes, tubular skylights or light tubes) are the modern way to bring more light into your custom designed kitchen, laundry room, bathroom, or just about any space in your home. Solar tubes capture daylight at the roof and deliver it to the inside of your home. They are made from sheet metal and generally come in 10-inch or 14-inch diameter sizes. Their polished interior acts like an endless mirror, channeling light along its entire length while maintaining the light’s intensity.

To protect the roof and the solar tube from the elements, the tube is capped by a weatherproof plastic dome. And in the ceiling of the room beneath, the tube ends with a round diffuser, somewhat like a porthole. The dome collects outdoor light while the diffuser distributes the light in a clean, white glow. Solar tubes can have quite a dramatic effect— you might even find yourself reaching for the light switch as you leave the room!

Perhaps best of all, solar tubes can be installed without major construction or investment, and they can reduce energy costs as well. A 10-inch tube is the comparable to three 100-watt bulbs, enough to brighten up to 200 square feet of floor area; and 14-inch tubes can illuminate as much as 300 square feet.

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Is Your House Right for a Light Tube?

Because no framing alteration is necessary for solar tube installation, there are few restrictions to where you can place the tube. First, check your attic space to see if there is room for a straight column. If you find any obstructions, they could be avoided with elbows or flexible tubing. It’s a relatively simple process to install a light tube in a vaulted ceiling because you’ll only need about a foot of tubing. Other factors to consider include:

Slope of Roof: Solar tubes are compatible with most roofs with slopes between 15 degrees and 60 degrees.

Type of Roof: Most tubes are designed with asphalt shingles in mind, but they can also work with wood shingles or shakes. If you have a metal or tile roof, flashing adapters are available.

Location: Typically, a dome installed on a southwest roof will provide the best results. Pick a spot requiring a length of tubing of 14 feet or less. A dome placed directly above your intended room will yield the most light, while a tube that twists and turns will reduce the amount of light, but only minimally.

If you have questions about whether your property is a good fit for solar tubing, get in touch with us. Our talented home remodelers will answer all of your questions and get you on your way to a gorgeous, light-filled home.

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