Solar Tube Cost Pros and Cons
If your home could use a little more daylight, particularly in the smaller spaces, but you don’t want to spend a lot or change the overall look of your rooms, solar tubes are a practical solution. On the other hand, if you want to make a major impact on a room’s appearance and you’re willing to pay for it, you might want to stick with traditional skylights.
Want to enjoy more natural light in your home, but find a skylight too big, expensive or hard to maintain,
a light tube offer a simple alternative. Also known as tubular skylights or sun tunnels, solar tubes give you an unobtrusive way to brighten the darker areas of your home with natural light.
The standard solar tube is a tube of polished sheet metal installed in the roof to channel sunlight into the house’s interior. They’re most commonly available in 10- and 14-inch-diameter sizes, which fit between standard 16-inch roof joists but also come in 22-inch sutable for larger areas or rooms with high ceilings. On the roof end of the tube is a weather-resistant acrylic cap. On the ceiling side is a round window-like opening fit with a diffuser that helps distribute the light evenly.
Effective, Understated, and Affordable
With solar tubes, you can light your home for free without the expense of skylight installation or the need to alter the look of your rooms.
Free lighting – On a sunny day, one 10-inch solar tube gives you around the same amount of light as three 100-watt bulbs. That’s enough to illuminate a 200 sq. ft. room well enough for office work or light a 300 sq. ft. room enough for less visual activities such as taking a shower or folding the laundry. With this much light, you’ll no longer have to use an electric light on sunny or even moderately cloudy days. You’ll enjoy extra convenience while saving money. If you need light at night, too, choose a solar tube model that includes an electric light or even a solar powered night light.
Design flexibility – Given their size, skylights are hard to miss when you walk into a room. Solar tubes, on the other hand, are subtle design elements that add light without calling attention to themselves. If you want to bring more light into your living room, bath room or bedroom without altering the room’s architecture, solar tubes let you do it. They also fit into smaller spaces than traditional skylights like hallways or walk in closets, making them a practical way to brighten up a small, dark area.
Budget-friendly installation – Solar tubes might look like a luxury feature, but they don’t require a major investment. The tubes themselves cost less than skylights, and they’re also less expensive to have installed because they don’t require any changes to your drywall or framing. In the Lincoln, Omaha area professional installation most of our customers pay less than $1000.00
To save more, you can install your solar tubes yourself with a kit that costs less than $500. That said, in certain more complicated cases where installation requires fitting the tube around wiring, pipes or air ducts, you’ll get better results by hiring a professional.
Less Control and Limited Design Impact
Light tubes give you fewer options for controlling the light entering the room, and their small size means they do little to enhance your home’s architecture.
Fewer options for control – Skylights give you more control over the quality of light you let in. Skylight shades work just like window shades, while the variety of skylight diffusers on the market gives you plenty of options for distributing the light in the room. Vented skylights even let you get some fresh air with your sunlight just by opening the skylight as you would an awning window.
With solar tubes, shades and venting aren’t really options. While you can use diffusers and window film, you’ll have a more limited selection compared to what’s available for skylights.
Little design improvement – Skylights are an architectural design feature unto themselves, making the room appear larger and airier, and giving you an ever-changing view of the passing clouds. They add both an ambiance of luxury and a feeling of connection to nature. Most solar tubes, however, are too small to affect the room’s appearance beyond letting in light and they don’t let you see anything outdoors.
Not equally suited to every home – The type of roof you have might make it impractical to install solar tubes. Most solar tubes are designed for roofs with a slope between 15 and 60 degrees. If you have a flat room, you’ll need to look for tubular skylight models specifically designed for this type of roof. On a steeply pitched roof, such as an A-frame, installation might not be possible at all. Most DIY solar tube kits are designed for roofs with asphalt or wood shingles. If you have tiles or a metal roof, you’ll need an adapter.