In the last few years, solar tube lighting system has become the most contemporary and most sufficient artificial lighting type. According to roofing contractor Eric Greer, around 90% of businesses, homes, and other buildings have installed solar tube lights. But, What are the drawbacks to solar tube lighting? what are the advantages to solar tube lighting?
If you’re thinking about installing tubular skylight, you probably have a lot of questions. I’ve got all the answers you need so that you can make an informed decision about this eco-friendly lighting option.
Solar Tube Lighting Pros and Cons
- Free Source of Energy
- Bright and efficient
- Less pollution
- Vitamin D enabled light source
- Does not leak
- Can light tricky areas of a house
- Possible heat loss
- Limited design options
- Not suitable for every home
What Are The Drawbacks To Solar Tube Lighting
Like other systems, powering your house via solar tube lighting also has its disadvantages. Let’s get the pitfalls out of our way first. Below are some of the most glaring hitches with solar tube lighting systems:
Not suitable for Every Home
Solar tube installation might not be ideal due to the kind of roof you have in your house. Most solar tubes are designed and suitable for conventional roofs with a slope between 15-60 degrees. So if your roof is pitched steeply or flat, installation of the solar tube might pose a challenge.
Also, the material of your building’s roof might need an adapter during installation, posing a challenge too. Since solar tube lighting systems can only be installed on the roof, the system won’t work well in areas on the ground floor in a two-story building, requiring longer tubes to channel the sunlight.
The longer the tubes, the less light is provided. Overall, it makes the solar tube lighting system ineffectual in certain places in your house. See tube length details here.
Limited Design Styles Of Solar Tube
Solar Tube lighting systems have limited styles in design. Solar tubes are too small and won’t really affect your room’s aesthetics beyond conveying natural light. Solar tubes won’t let you see what’s happening outdoors. See the solar tubes from 3 different brands below. Do you see the similarities?
|Natural Light Energy Systems 10-Inch Tubular Skylight
|Natural Light Energy Systems
|Buy on Amazon
|14 in. Sun Tunnel Tubular Skylight Acrylic Dome with Low-Profile Flashing and Flexible Tunnel-VELUX-TGF 014 0000
|Buy on Amazon
|Velux TMR 010 0000 Sun Tunnel, 10" Tubular Skylight w/Rigid Tunnel & Pitched Flashing
|Buy on Amazon
So if you’re looking to add an atmosphere of austerity in your home, choosing to use solar tubes would be a wrong choice. Also, solar tube systems give you limited options (window-films and diffusers as daylight dimmer) to control the amount of light entering into space.
Only One Source of Energy
The only source of energy in solar-powered systems is through sunlight, making it problematic. So, on days with bad weather conditions, getting direct sunlight won’t be possible, hence, limiting its function. On days like this, you would have to seek an alternative light source or stay in darkness. Check details here.
Solar Tube Uses Lots of Space During Installation
Installing solar tube lights into your home would take lots of space. If your house is small, this might give you a slight headache during installation because every inch counts. So, you’ll need a bigger and spacious area if you want a considerate amount of solar energy to enter your home. See space requirements here.
Lack of Ventilation Of Solar Tube
It is impossible to install a ventilation system with solar tubes, making it impossible to liberate heat or catch a bit of breeze through them. See photos and videos here.
Most light pipes are made of aluminum. Aluminum is a great conductor of heat. But in winter, you may find your the pipes are leaking heat from the interior of your house, reducing the overall R value. Read other buyers opinion here.
Some solar tube domes have additional aluminum reflectors to boost more sunlight. These reflectors may create a lot of noise on windy days. See details here.
What Are The Advantages To Solar Tube Lighting
In 2001, Electric Power Research institute explored the advantages of solar tube lighting. They include:
Provision of Natural Light
Thinking of an alternative to artificial lighting in your home? A solar tube is an answer. Installing a solar tube into your home would ensure reliable natural daylight whenever you need it. There are also health benefits attached to using natural lighting in your homes.
They provide vitamin D, boost physical and mental well-being, reduce blood pressure, and improve performance and concentration levels. Read the benefits here.
Solar Tube Has Quick, Easy and Practical Installation
Installing a solar tube into your home is a quick, simple and easy process. The solar tubes are unobtrusive, and they would blend well into the design of your home. An experienced worker installs a solar tube in less than three hours. Use best solar angle calculator before installing to get the best out of solar tube reflector.
Low Cost of Maintenance Of Solar Tube
Solar tubes don’t get easily damaged, so you don’t have to worry about spending a ton of money to maintain them after installing. Also, the solar tubes are protected by a weather-resistant acrylic dome, which helps to protect its leakage and from the sun’s intensity, insects and humidity. Solar tubes have very little or no maintenance costs. Read my post on total installation maintenance cost of solar tube here.
Solar tubes being a source of solar energy, doesn’t generate dangerous emissions. It is a clean, friendly renewable source of energy. Using a solar tube to power lighting in your home would help your community attain sustainability and efficiency in energy. With the weather-resistant dome, ultra-violet rays are blocked and prevented from entering the tube. Compare specs here.
But, did you know a solar farm can harm the environment even for generations? Here’s I explained what are the drawbacks of living near a solar farm.
Solar Tube Has Low cost of Installation
Installing a solar tube into your home might look expensive, but it doesn’t require spending lots of money. There are some solar tube kits that cost less than $500, and you can install them yourself. See detailed cost comparison here.
Leakages Not An Issue
The water-resistant acrylic dome helps prevent the solar tube from leakage during rainfall and snow (unlike vented skylight). So, be rest assured that you won’t notice water leaking from your ceiling after properly installing your solar tubes. See solar tube material details here.
Solar tubes would help add more light into your home without altering the architecture of your house. Also, if you’re looking for a way to illuminate smaller areas in your home like the hallways, closets, bathroom, pantry, etc., tubular skylight is the answer because they would reduce your energy use and utility costs.
Thinking about getting solar panels and lighting system instead? Don’t go for wrong panel technology and even make it worse. Read my post here to understand solar panel technologies before diving off the leap.
Provision of Free Lighting
Looking for an alternative to electric lighting? Are you tired of spending lots of money on electricity bills? Lighting your house has just got better for you with solar tubes. On a very radiant day, a 10inch solar tube would provide the same amount of light as a three 100watts bulb, which is enough to brighten a 200-300 sq. ft. room. This solution would provide you with comfort while saving your money and reducing your electricity bill.
That’s what president Jim Carter thought about solar power too. Read what happened to white house solar panels here.
What is Solar Tube Lighting
Solar tubes is an innovative and efficient traditional skylight alternative. Also known as sun tunnel, daylight pipes, tubular skylight and light tubes, are a highly polished sheet metal tube placed on your roof membrane, which runs through your ceilings, can channel outside daylight into your house’s interior through a protruding metallic tube without electricity. A solar tube’s primary function is to convey outside lighting to illuminate darkened spaces in a home. See details here.
The solar tube, being placed on the roof, is protected from environmental factors through a translucent and waterproof dome. Solar tubes are available in different colors, shapes, and sizes, and it is designed to be very economical. They are made with a reflective material that amplifies sunlight as rays of sunlight pass through them.
The statistics of solar tube lights that are made yearly are at a constant increase. Statistics show an increase of over 200% in solar tube light production in the past year, and about 10 million are sold annually.
A solar tube is an alternative to electric lighting. A three 100watt electric bulb is comparable to a 10inch solar tube. Solar tube lighting is one of the most-efficient solutions for indoor lighting. Check comparison here.
How Does Solar Tube Lighting Work
Solar tube lighting consists of two tubes – a positive or collector tube and a negative or emitter tube – connected to a housing. The light produced in the housing goes into the emitter tube, where it’s converted to light. The light emitted by the solar tube is collected in the housing and used as a conventional light fixture.
Solar tubes are designed optically to channel as much sunlight as possible into a house, and they come in different sizes, usually about 1 to 2ft in diameter. Click here for more information.
The solar tube, installed on the roof, has a polished reflective sheet metal waterproof surface that channels daylight along with its entire distance lengthwise, conserves the natural light’s potency, and delivers it into darkened areas in your home.
On the top view of the roof, the solar tube is like an impermeable Perspex dome. In contrast, on the ceiling’s bottom view, it is a circular window-like opening-fit, with a diffuser, which helps distribute the stored sunlight proportionately. Solar tubes provide an uninterrupted sunlight source, and they would help save electricity tariffs. See more photos and videos here.
Solar Tube VS Skylight
In order to make a decision before choosing to use a solar tube vs skylight lighting in your home, you need to know the differences between both.
Considering energy efficiency, the solar tube is more effective compared to the skylight. The solar tube captures natural sunlight and disperses it into various areas in your homes. Though skylights accumulate almost three times the luminescence of regular windows, energy is eventually lost via heat gain during warm climates. See here why people like solar tube.
Considering Ultra-Violet (UV) rays, choosing a solar tube is the best option compared to a skylight. Skylights were also placed on the roof of a building only filter and reduced the ultraviolet rays. A Solar tube, protected with a weather-proof acrylic dome, would completely block the UV rays from entering the home. The UV rays are hazardous to the eyes and skin, so they must be avoided entirely in your home. See what people think of skylight these days.
Water condensation is an issue associated with both skylights and solar tubes. Solutions to these issues have been found. Using a humidifier in your house would help prevent condensation issues in skylights, and covering the solar tube with insulation would help avoid issues of condensation in solar tubes.
In terms of appearance and aesthetics, skylights have an edge. Skylights provide an aura from the daylight sky to the sky-filled sky at night. Solar tubes only channel sunlight into a building’s interior and do little or nothing to influence a room’s architecture.
Do not get the wrong battery for your solar powered lights. Here’s my comparison between two most popular battery types for solar light.
Are solar tubes worth it?
An estimated 85% of all residential electric bills are based on heating, cooling, and lighting. These three components alone account for more than 50% of residential electricity costs. But they’re surprisingly easy components to reduce in-home energy costs. Solar tube lighting is a great way to do this because you’re effectively taking energy from the sun to power your home.
In an average location, you can expect to reduce your monthly electricity bill by about 15%. By switching your home light to solar tube lights, you’ll cut your energy bills by an additional 15%. This 15% will also include cost savings from reduced electricity bills. Not only will you save energy, but you’ll also save money on other expenses.
Want to save more money with solar? Read my guide on understanding the conversion of 12 volt to 24 volt power here.
Solar Tube Lighting FAQs
Solar tubes are increasing in demand as it helps homeowners save electricity cost. The statistic shows that over 100 million solar tube lights were made in the past year, and about 85% of them were being sold. It is not far-fetched to believe that solar tube light production will continue to rise as like solar farms.
If you’re looking to cut the cost of electricity bills, then solar tube light is for you. Imagine a future where you don’t have to open or reach for the light switch because the light from the sun is already streaming into the room. This is the vision of the future that Solar Tube Lighting promises. And before you dive in you now know what are the drawbacks to solar tube lighting and the advantages are.
Like any other energy, solar energy also has it’s pros and cons. Read my post on pros and cons of solar power here. Read my post and understand the differences between 12volt and 24volt solar system here.