We’ve all heard the benefits of natural light: it rejuvenates, cures depression, and makes people more energetic and productive throughout the day. This is why daylighting has become such a popular trend, and why skylights are often installed in the home. However, what if you don’t want that big hole in your roof? What if you want the natural benefits of solar radiance without a giant window taking up a large part of your roof? Then a tubular skylight may be your answer: these installations conduct sunlight from outside the house, but on the inside they appear as normal light fixtures.
Light Pipe Construction
Tubular skylights are designed to retrofit into any pre-existing roof, running between the rafters and joists in the ceiling. Outside on the roof, they look like little round domes that are designed with a slight parabolic shape in order to capture all direct and indirect sunlight. It then conducts the light through a vertical, cylindrical shaft. This light pipe can be slightly bent or elbowed in order to get around obstructive objects in the ceiling; it can also match the slope of any roof in order to be as efficient as possible. This cylinder uses reflective technology (a high-shine interior coating) in order to optimize all solar potential (even on the cloudiest of days) as it reaches the interior of house. Once there, the light is finally filtered through a diffuser: an interior lens that looks like any other traditional light bulb (except this one will never burn out on you).
Light Pipe vs. Skylight
They have a lot in common: both installations come with UV coatings in order to protect against interior fading and to avoid health hazards to the skin. They both use daylighting, which is more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. And they are both leak-proof and guaranteed to add some value to your home. Although they each use the same solar energy source, tubular skylights come with a few distinct advantages:
- Energy Costs: Since they’re designed to optimize solar radiance into the home, they are also more energy efficient. Unlike traditional windows which simply let in all the light they can (therefore increasing the temperature of a space as well) a tubular skylight is designed to be more precise in how it disperses sunlight, thereby reducing energy waste.
- Installation Costs: Depending on the size of the installation, these new solar devices are less expensive than traditional ceiling windows (usually running between $300-600, including installation fee).
- Quick Install: If you hire the right people for the job, it can usually take less than a day: about 2-3 hours as opposed to 2-3 days.
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Controlling the Sun
These innovative fixtures also come with some unique options that give you more control over the sun’s light.
- First, due to the interior diffuser, you can regulate how much illumination you want to enter the home and where you want this light placed. This not only makes it more manageable, but by manipulating the light source, it becomes more energy efficient.
- Second, you can buy models with electrical components so that this fixture can be used during the nighttime hours as well. Why not even buy a solar-powered adapter so that in the evening your electrical light is still being powered by the sun.
- Third, since the tube is sealed on both ends, the air trapped inside the cylinder acts as a great form of natural insulation, which is constantly being reheated by the sun.