Looking for answers to your Solatube questions? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions below. If you can’t find the answer below, don’t worry, simply contact us directly—we’re here to help.
1. What is a light tunnel?
A light tunnel, also known as a Solatube or tubular skylight, is a device that captures natural sunlight from the roof and channels it through a highly reflective tube, bringing the light indoors to spaces that lack windows or have limited access to daylight.
2. How does a light tunnel work?
A light tunnel consists of three main components: a rooftop dome, a highly reflective tube, and a diffuser installed on the ceiling indoors. The rooftop dome captures sunlight and directs it into the reflective tube, which then transports the light to the diffuser, spreading it evenly throughout the room.
3. Can a light tunnel be installed in any building?
Light tunnels are versatile and can be installed in various types of buildings, including residential homes, commercial spaces, and even in certain industrial settings. They are adaptable to different roof types and can be installed in both flat and sloped roofs.
4. Are light tunnels only suitable for certain room types?
Light tunnels can be installed in virtually any room or space that could benefit from increased natural light. They are commonly used in hallways, bathrooms, closets, stairwells, kitchens, and any other areas where access to natural light is limited.
5. How much light do light tunnels provide?
The amount of light provided by a light tunnel depends on factors such as the size and design of the tunnel, the length of the reflective tube, and the intensity of sunlight. Generally, sun tunnels can provide a significant amount of natural light, often equivalent to several light bulbs, but the exact illumination will vary based on these factors.
6. Do light tunnels require maintenance?
Light tunnels typically require minimal maintenance. The dome on the roof may need occasional cleaning to remove dirt or debris that could obstruct the light. The diffuser on the ceiling may also require cleaning to maintain optimal light distribution.
7. Can light tunnels be installed in existing buildings?
Yes, light tunnels can be installed in existing buildings. They are designed to be adaptable and can often be retrofitted into spaces without major modifications to the structure. However, it’s important to consult with a professional to determine the feasibility and best installation method for your specific building.
How do I get an estimate for my home?
You can call the phone number at the top of the webpage and our customer service team will give you a price indication.
Alternatively, to obtain a specific quotation, you can schedule a free survey with one of our experts. This way, we can assess your home, check feasibility, and really drill down and customise your home lighting or ventilation requirements.
Can I just purchase the product without installation?
Yes, customers and contractors can order via telephone—please just give us a call.
Are the showrooms open?
Yes! However, please call in advance as some of our locations require an appointment.
More Solatube FAQs
How much does a Solatube Tubular Skylight cost?
Solatube Tubular Skylights vary in price based on the size, the quantity of extension tubes and accessories, and different roof types.
Can a Solatube Tubular Skylight be installed horizontally?
Yes. An optional 0-90 degree angle adapter allows the light to run horizontally for short distances.
CAD drawings are available on the Technical Resources section of the Solatube International website.
How large of an area does the Solatube Tubular Skylight brighten?
The light coverage area for Solatube 250mm Daylighting System) is approximately 10 sqm, for a Solatube 350mm Daylighting System) it is approximately 18 sqm. The Solatube 530mm Daylighting System) illuminates areas up to approximately 30 sqm. For Commercial Building applications, please consult a Solatube Daylight Consultant as acceptable illuminated areas will greatly vary due to ceiling heights and application.
- These estimated lighting areas are based upon an average 1.8m tube length and 2.4m ceiling height.
- Light output will vary depending on external daylight levels . For example, there will be more natural light at mid-day than in the early morning or evening. Light output may also decrease as the length of the tube increases.
Are there any condensation problems with the Solatube Tubular Skylights?
Condensation in buildings is mainly a winter problem, particularly where warm, moist air is generated in areas of occupancy and then penetrates to the colder parts of the building. This can result from a number of things in both residential and commercial buildings. Condensation may be more acute in buildings with inadequate ventilation.
Are Solatube Tubular Skylights maintenance free?
The Solatube is designed to be a sealed unit. All assemblies (dome, flashing, tubing, diffuser) have seals to stop bug and dirt infiltration. The maintenance-free design and shape of the dome and flashing eliminate debris build-up. Unlike traditional skylights, there is no open drywall shaft that requires cleaning and re-painting.
What if the Solatube light is too bright or bluish?
We offer a range of Effect Lenses to adjust the light to soften or warm the light colour. For those who prefer less light, we offer the Softening Effect Lens that creates a subtle, softer natural lighting effect. The optional Solatube Daylight Dimmer can also be installed to allow control of the light output.
The Warm/Warm Softening Effect Lens enhances natural daylight by warming the light. Never use standard window tinting or any flammable material to block the incoming light as this could create a fire hazard.
For the SolaMaster Series, we offer a secondary diffuser that fits under the dome to soften the light if necessary.
What is the UV impact of installing a Solatube Tubular Skylight?
To answer this question we first need to understand what wavelengths of radiation are emitted through a Solatube Tubular Skylight. Solatubes uses two technologies to eliminate UV radiation and reduce heat from infrared (IR) wavelengths from entering the building interior as follows:
- The first technology is related to the domes. Solatube outer domes have special UV inhibitors designed to block 100% of UVB (280 to 315 nanometers), 100% UVC (100 to 280 nanometers), and 98.5% UVA (315 to 400 nanometers) rays.
- The second technology is related to the tubing. Spectralight Infinity tubing transmits the visible spectrum of light (400 to 760 nanometers). The infrared spectrum of light (above 760 nanometers) is not transmitted by the Spectralight Infinity tubing.
With this information in mind, the following subjects can be addressed:
There are a few factors to consider when determining if a Solatube Daylighting System will have an effect on plant growth in conjunction with the above information. The first factor would be how much UV the particular plant will need for proper growth. Second, the size of the product you are using may impact how much light the plant will be able to obtain. It is also important to point out that the Solatube Daylighting System removes a majority of the infrared wavelengths, which would provide heat to the plants. This substantially reduces any heat-related stress problems that may occur with indoor plants.
Typically plant growth occurs between 400 and 1000 nanometers. Based on this data, it would be safe to say that in general, a Solatube Daylighting System will have a positive effect on plant growth depending on that particular plant’s UV requirements.
Solar Heat Gain
With the infrared blocking capabilities of the Spectralight Infinity tubing, removing greater than 50% of the heat from the infrared wavelengths (>900 nanometers) of the sun with every reflection on the tube surface, the Solar Heat Gain of Solatube products is greatly reduced, which in turn will reduce the air conditioning load requirement for the space being daylit. These technologies allow Solatube Daylighting Systems to provide the greatest light output performance with minimal thermal impact.
UV Effect on Skin and Vitamin D
The different UV wavelengths affect the skin in the following ways:
- UVA – The lowest energy range, UVA causes little burning ordinarily, but it penetrates deeply, beyond the surface layer of the skin. Over long periods of exposure, UVA causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
- UVB – More energetic, the chief burning and tanning rays which are a major factor in producing skin cancer, although not penetrating beyond the skin.
- UVC – The most energetic, intensely burning rays. Fortunately, UVC is mostly absorbed by the earth’s sunscreen, the ozone layer.
Concerning Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin when UV rays react with a compound within the skin between the 270-300 nanometers wavelengths, with peak synthesis between 295-297 nanometers. Based on this information the Solatube Daylighting Systems do not transfer the required UV for Vitamin D synthesis as it will block all of the UVB and UVC rays, which fall between the 100-315 nanometer range.
Note: The UV information in this article is specific to Solatube Daylighting Systems – other TDD products may not provide the same performance standards.
How long can the Solatube Tubular Skylights tube be?
Recommended maximum tube run:
- Solatube 250 mm diameter – up to 6m
- Solatube 350 mm diameter – up to 9m
- Solatube 530 mm diameter – up to 15m
How do I remove my Solatube diffuser?
Your ceiling diffuser is quite easy to remove and clean; for round diffusers, simply twist off the diffuser in a counter-clockwise direction. For square diffuser, unscrew the four stainless steel corner fixings.
For models prior to 2010, please contact us.
Is there a way to turn off or "block out" a Solatube's light?
Yes! The Solatube Daylight Dimmer (Patent 7,082,726) allows the natural lighting level of a room to be turned up or down on demand, providing unprecedented flexibility for tubular skylights in both residential and commercial applications. The Daylight Dimmer easily controls the amount of light desired in any room from the convenience of a switch. The patented variable butterfly baffle controls the light output, making it perfect for bedrooms, family rooms, offices, classrooms, and conference rooms.
For further assistance and questions about pricing please contact us.
Can Solatubes be installed in a shower?
Yes. There are, however, a few things to be aware of in these types of applications. Because of the excess moisture in the shower, you may experience condensation, which is not covered under the warranty as it is a natural occurrence. You will want to make sure there is proper ventilation and it would be recommended to use our Natural Effect Lens to minimize the air exchange between the shower and inside of the tubing as much as possible.
For more information on our warranty please feel free to visit the warranty page of our website.
How short can the Solatube Tubular Skylight tube be?
There is no minimum distance! Applications without an attic space, vaulted ceilings, or open beam ceilings are quite common. In very short spaces the tubing may need to be modified to fit the space. This can be done easily by cutting the tubing to the desired length. Note that is recommended to have a straight tube run when installing into small spaces.
Can a Solatube be used for the first floor of a two-story house or in a basement application?
Yes, if there is a closet or place for the tubes to run from the roof through the house to the first floor or to the basement. A Solatube 350mm diameter system is recommended due to the long distance from the roof. Usually, the tubing is boxed in for added protection.
Can I split the Solatube Tubular Skylight tubing and light two rooms from only one dome?
No. It is not possible to connect 2 diffusers to one dome. There is no “Y” adapter available for Solatube Tubular Skylights.
What happens if the Solatube dome gets covered with snow?
Light output will be reduced but the dome will be fine. Tests have indicated that all size models of the Solatube Tubular Skylights can resist positive snow loads of up to 150 pounds per square foot. For more information and to review the CCRR test report click on the link below.
Can I install a Solatube myself?
Installation of a Solatube is very easy. An experienced contractor or handyman can do it in a few hours.
The Solatube is designed with a patented fastening and telescoping tube system, additionally, many components are pre-assembled at the factory for a minimum assembly time.
How does a Solatube Tubular Skylight work?
The Solatube Tubular Skylight captures light through a dome on the roof and channels it down through our internal reflective system. This tubing is far more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. The tubing will fit between rafters and will install easily with no structural modification. At the ceiling level, a diffuser that resembles a recessed light fixture spreads the light evenly throughout the room.
How durable is a Solatube?
All parts are covered by a 10-year warranty. Electrical components are covered by a 5-year warranty.
- The dome is made from high-quality resin that is specifically formulated for increased impact strength, chemical, weather resistance, and high clarity. For High-Velocity Hurricane Zone areas, we have available the Shock Inner Dome.
- The tubing is made from puncture-proof aluminium sheet with a UV protective covering.
What is a Solatube Daylighting System and how does it compare to a traditional box skylight?
Traditional skylights have their place, as do Tubular Daylighting Devices. There are many benefits of the Solatube Daylighting System, including flexible location options, low cost of installation, and better lighting performance. Also, traditional skylights do not offer any optical enhancement devices to help increase performance. On the north side of a sloped roof, the light output from a regular skylight is significantly reduced without these devices.
The Solatube Daylighting System, for example, features several patented enhancement devices, which work in concert to capture more light from all angles and reflect it down the tube for higher light output during the early morning, late afternoon, and in the winter months when the sun is low on the horizon.
The Solatube Daylighting System transfers the maximum amount of ambient light into a room with minimal light loss, allowing it to provide great performance even on cloudy or rainy days. In fact, it captures ambient light so well, that on a full-moon night, you can actually see a nice glow.
Can Solatube Daylighting Systems be installed on flat or very low-pitched roofs?
Yes, with the optional flat “no-pitch” 150mm high flashing the Solatube Daylighting System can be installed on low pitched roofs.
How much air can the Solatube Daylighting System's Ventilation Add-on Kit move?
The Solatube Daylighting System’s proprietary fan/motor is rated at 3 Cubic Meters per minute which is of much higher performance than a standard bathroom vent that most of us have in our homes. This ensures quick and effective ventilation.
What if there is moisture accumulating on the outside of the Solatube Daylighting System tube?
This is a symptom of attic condensation due to inadequate ventilation. Wrapping the tube with insulation can help, but is not the cure for the larger problem. Need further ventilation? Try one of our Solar Star ventilation systems!