Solar Tube Costs – Purchasing to Installation (Complete Breakdown)

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Sun tube is becoming mainstream and it’s a good idea to have a closer look into the solar tube costs. Solar tube and material purchase cost vary from $500 to $1000 depending on the area of coverage and manufacturer. That includes the material purchase and installation.

You might be wondering how you’re going to light up that dark part of your house during the day without worrying about your energy cost. Well, there are several ways to do that, the top-two among them being the use of solar tube and traditional skylight.

However, let’s focus on cost efficiency (purchases and installation) of solar tube lights.

The cost will vary between manufacturers, regions, different designs, additional features, capabilities, and additional costs of delivery and tax. Consider factors like:

Being on a budget, some great brands you can get are:

ImageTitleBrandPriceBuy
Product Image TopNatural Light Tubular Skylight Kit 13-Inch with Instructions and 25 Year WarrantyNatural LightBuy on Amazon
Product Image TopNatural Light Energy Systems 10-Inch Tubular SkylightNatural Light Energy SystemsBuy on Amazon
Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:
  • The Natural Light Tubular Skylight 13 inches Model by Asesorialeds at only $115.
  • The Budget Tubular series by Solar Bright® is only $209, and its performance is still great (they are flexible).
  • The Natural Light 10 is also a great option on the low end.

These costs do not include installation costs.

Check on diameters that will ensure the natural sunlight is spread evenly and entirely to our space. Normally, a flexible tubing is installed with 6 feet length and at a height of about 8 feet from the floor to the ceiling. With this, the coverage will be:

  • For a 6-inch (diameter) solar tube, the approximated area is about 75 to 90 square feet, like the Aura tubular skylight, which costs about $130 on Best Materials; best in quite small pantries and closets bathrooms, and smaller kitchen layouts.
  • A 10-inch solar tube, with an approximated area of 150 to 200 square feet, suited for larger pantries and closets, kitchens, and hallways. You could get the VELUX Sun Tunnel 10″ Double strength acrylic rigid low-profile tubular skylight and natural light 10 inch.
  • A 14-inch one will cover a bigger area of 250 to 300 square feet like Velux TMF 014 0000 Sun Tunnel. This is a space equivalent to that of a master bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen.
  • An 18-inch solar tube is one of the tubes with a large area of coverage (up to 500 square feet), like the Elite Solar Tube Kit – 18″ Diameter (Solartech Direct) at $660 and could handle a large room.
 *Mentioned prices are subject to change depending on when you are reading this blog 

Solar tubes come with different types of diffusers that regulate the amount of light spread, having different prices:

  • Prismatic diffuser; made of a thick sheet with prisms facing downwards for maximum light. These diffusers range between $27 and $100 on Amazon.
  • The White diffuser; has a smooth surface to give a crisp touch of lighting. The Natural Light 18DX costs $36, with similar brands ranging at the same price.
  • MaxLum diffuser; suitable for ceilings above 12 feet height.

The cost of solar tubes, depending on their size, is connected to their coverage capabilities (the bigger the tube, the wider the coverage).

Solar tubes are seeing great modifications to meet customers’ preferences. These designs contain add-ons, which increases their prices too.

  • The Bathroom Exhaust Vent; like the 10′ Elite Tubular Skylight.
  • Light Kits; come with a photovoltaic bulb that can be switched on, on cloudy days.
  • Dimmers; are controlled by a remote or socket to change the intensity of light.

The cost of installing will depend on the size and coverage area of tubes and the setting of your house. The cost of having a tubular daylighting device up and running will range from $500 to $1000 when installed by your manufacturer or installation service providers. This means that you are charged around $150 and $250 for installation.

However, it is possible and easy to do it yourself. This will take you no more than 3hours. Be prepared with a complete kit of tools to use and safety measure equipment.

Before assessing the installation cost, here is a quick guide to installing any model of the solar tubing by yourself:

  • Locate where you want your diffuser to be in your room. Do the same on the roof.
  • Trace the tube around these marks and cut two holes, one on the ceiling and the other on the roof.
  • Fit the roof flashing, the top tube then the dome tightly together to ensure no leakage.
  • Measure the distance from the top of the flashing to the bottom of the ceiling ring to know the length of the tube you will assemble.
  • Attach the extension tube and the bottom to the top tube, and finally, the diffuser. Make sure all these a fastened tightly.

Now, you could be unsure whether to install solar tubes by yourself or using installer services.

Installing by yourself, you will need to have the proper tools, training or keen on instructions, and even safety considerations.

Tools needed for installation are:

  1. Crayon; for marking point
  2. Keyhole saw; to cut through the ceiling
  3. Utility knife
  4. Laser level
  5. Tape measure
  6. Ladder
  7. Reciprocating saw
  8. Electric drill
  9. Protective coveralls, safety glasses, and gloves
  10. Compass

Materials needed:

  1. Roof sealant
  2. Pile seal
  3. Aluminum tape
  4. Screws; these come with the kit

Most manufacturers will include these materials in their kit, but most of the tools are not (you have to buy them).

With these tools and materials, all you need to do is follow the instructions on the manual that comes with the kit.

The cost you are going to incur here, apart from the solar tube kit, is on the tools. It is good to buy the tools in one place like amazon.com to avoid delivery problems and minimize tax costs.

On average, installing by yourself, including the cost of materials bought aside:

  • A 10-inch solar tube will cost you between $200 and $260
  • A 14-inch one will cost between $500 and $700
  • An 18-inch solar tube with a cost above $700.

This cost will be much lower if you luckily had these tools laying somewhere in your store.

Further, after installation, you’re guaranteed a huge deduction on energy tax by 30%, and this is what makes solar tubes sell out very fast. Some come with the federal tax credit.

For larger tubes like the 18-inch solar tube, professional installation is necessary, amounting to $1000, an additional cost of $400.

This device channels sunlight into your house, basically by a tunnel that is mirror-reflective on the inside. It is installed running from the rooftop of a house to the ceiling of one- or more- of your rooms. Its components are:

  • An acrylic dome; outer and inner
  • Roof flashing
  • Top, bottom, and extension tubes; reflective on the inside
  • A light diffuser
  • A reflector

Solar tubes come in different sizes and designs to fit your setting and needs. You need to know the drawbacks to solar tubes before joining the party.

Their primary purpose is to harvest and amplify sunlight into your house, and so:

  • On your roof goes the dome, made of either transparent acrylic, Polycarbonate plastic, or glass, depending on the manufacture. It focuses light rays into the tube and also acting as a lid to cover the hollow.
  • The dome is fastened to a roof flashing. You fit the roof flashing depending on how your roof is inclined (commonly 15 and 60 degrees roof pitch) to ensure that the dome is horizontally placed to trap as much light as possible.
  • Once the sunlight hits the dome, it is focused on the joined tube. These adjustable tubes run in the space between the roof and ceiling then direct light to the diffuser.
  • The diffuser then dispenses sun rays and evenly lights up your room.

Tubes are made of aluminum to make them shiny and act as reflecting mirrors. Their length is adjustable to make them reach the ceiling or stories below.

Some solar tubes come with reflector add-ons as a complementary device to direct more rays towards the dome, making solar tube skylights work better even on cloudy days. More designs are underway to improve Solar Tubes.

Installation of solar tubes and skylights will vary between regions. Basically, for a standard 14-inch solar tube, the cost incurred will range between $550 and $700. Skylights around $1500 and $2000, and electric lights have a cost rate of about 14 cents per kilowatt-hour.

A cost-benefit comparison between the three will help you have what you’re looking for skylight in solar tube lighting, compared to the other two. 

FeatureSolar TubeTraditional SkylightElectric Light
MaterialSolar Tube kit between
$130 and $660
Skylight kit from
$138
Wires: $6-$10 per sq. ft. Switches, Bulbs
MaintenanceMinimal compared to SkylightsCost higher if not properly installedMinimal
Installation$0 to $400$650 and aboveMore than $1500
Monthly Billing$0$013 cents per kilowatt hour
TaxDeduction by 22% until 1st December 2022Deduction by 22% until 1st December 2022Not Taxed (the US only)

Their cost ranges from $115 up to $660, depending on factors like coverage area, amount of light, and additional features like a MaxLum diffuser. Installing solar tubes incurs low costs, as one can even install for themselves. One can pay up to $400 for a 14-inch solartube using installation services, which costs about $326. The total amount incurred could be around $700.

There is an energy tax deduction of 22% for solar tubes used in the US.

Skylights are more expensive than a solar tube because of the kind of installations required. This will depend on the size one needs and other accompanying costs like UV coating, automation, roof restructuring, labor, and materials apart from the skylight kits. A skylight kit is only cheaper, about $138 (like the Sunoptics SUN R2020 PYL TGZ 50CC2 800MD BZ 2-Feet by 2-Feet). Some solar tubes of the same capabilities, but this cost increases when it is installed.

Even with their longer lifespan, they also require cleaning and proper care to avoid leakages and other damages, thus requiring a professional installation.

Electricity installation (wiring) ranges from $1500 for a 500-square foot to $3000 for heavy cabling, circuit panels, and wiring. Wires range from a cost of $0.20 to $2 per linear foot, depending on the type of wire material and design. The cost of replacing wires can range between $6 and $10 per square foot.

Installation of electricity has a high cost and done only by professionals, ranging from $400 to $100 per hour. Wiring a house could take several days; imagine the cost.

However, it is worth noting that daylight devices are not a substitute for electricity but a complement during the day to save up energy consumptions. Despite the high cost of installation and billing, and that is a cost everyone is willing to pay because of the efficiency of electricity. Electricity lights are needed at night.

With the above comparison, solar tubes are cost-efficient than skylights and electric lights when it comes to daylight. With a perfect installation, their maintenance cost is minimal in the short run.

Yes. To transform the United States into an economy running on renewable energy, a policy was developed in 2005 to exclude tax on solar energy systems, encouraging residential and commercial setups to use solar systems, including solar tubes. This has made the solar industry in the US grow by about 9000% since 2006.

Currently, 26% of the cost of installing solar systems is cut down. This is scheduled to go up to 2024 (at 10% and finally 0%), but projects (both commercial and homes) that may have started before December 31st, 2023, will have qualified. Energy costs are expected to fall, helping corporates and consumers enjoy the low costs, as you have seen with the low solar tube cost in this article.

This applies to: 

  • Those who are in the United States own a solar energy system and eligible for the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). ITC allows you as a homeowner to purchase solar systems and install them after applying for the credit on personal income.
  • Businesses claim the credit, too, just after installing solar systems and financing the Solar Investment Tax Credit. Therefore, the ITC is based on the amount of investment in solar property.
  • The IRS guidance,  Notice 2018-59, will guide you to the requirements to qualify for the ITC. You can also use the EnergySage website to view your property file, advice, and everything you need to know about the ITC.
  • On solar tubes, Solatube offers a way to access ITC. They offer a tax credit on their products, excluding add-ons like the light and ventilation kits. 

This initiative is for the US only. It is was developed by Congress to encourage and help Americans to shift to renewable energy systems.

In a Nutshell

Now we know what solar tubes are and how they work, solar tube costs, installation costs, and comparison with skylights and electrical lights. Next time when you run into a store to get one, I’m hopefully sure you won’t scratch your head any more; consider the above factors and make clear decisions on what you’re looking for.

Solar tubes guarantee you up to offer 10 years of service with no need for replacement and maintenance check. You can customize them your way by changing diffusers to different colors, light intensities (like dimmers), and even remote automation.

In short solar tube costs for purchasing and and installation sumps up about $500 to $1000 per unit depending on the size of your room and the brand you choose. But, keep in mind, you are investing for minimum 10 years and when you compare your traditional electric lights, it’s still cheaper.

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