Solatube Myths

We recently attended a Show were we were able to speak to a lot of people and were able to dispel the numerous myths that are still doing the rounds about ‘tubular daylighting systems’ in general. So I thought that in this blog I would go back over some of the more common ones.

A Velux style roof window / skylight is NOT designed to deliver light down to the ceiling below

Frustratingly, often these ‘myths’ seem to be perpetuated by some people who have not experienced or do not know the various options and choices that are available for getting daylight in to dark interiors. They have historically specified a Velux style roof window / skylight with a light well beneath.  Unfortunately, this is an extremely inefficient and costly approach; a roof window is just not designed to deliver light down to the ceiling below; it’s designed to allow light immediately in to a room in the roof, i.e. straight through the roof.

A Solatube sun pipe is specifically designed to deliver light over long distances

After all, it is a ‘window’, as the name implies, and not a solution for delivering light any sort of distance. Whereas a Solatube sun pipe is designed specifically to deliver light along a tube and into a dark interior, quite long distances, extremely effectively and extremely efficiently; this is its whole purpose in life! A velux style skylight just does not even get close to doing the job as well. And please don’t think this is a sales pitch against  velux style roof windows – it most definitely is not. I love them when used in the right situations; it’s actually just common sense physics, and not even Brian Cox can change the laws of nature relating to light!

Solatube sun tunnels are the only efficient and effective way to pipe light in to dark interiors

Using a Solatube sun pipe means you have a far smaller penetration through your roof that can deliver as much light as a roof window. Consequently, it is significantly more thermally efficient – you’ll lose far less heat through a Solatube than a much larger roof window (and you’ll also avoid heat gain when it’s sunny). Additionally, when it rains the drumming from a roof window can be quite intrusive and loud, whereas a Solatube sun pipe does not suffer from noise.

Don’t believe everything you hear

I suspect that in many other situations when people talk to their builder about getting more light in to a room, the automatic response is a roof window with a light well beneath. This is borne out of familiarity – it’s what most builders know how to install, and they can also build the framing and plasterboard light well beneath.

It’s understandable that they may not have come across Solatube sun pipes and also understandable that they may not be comfortable about installing them – because it’s something new and unknown to them. However, a Solatube sun tunnel is easier and cheaper to install than a velux style roof window. A Solatube can be fitted within a few hours without any structural cutting of timbers, studwork, plasterboard and plastering. To finish a roof window with its attendant light well beneath requiring timber framing, plasterboard, plastering and decorating will take significantly longer and use significantly more materials and will ultimately cost you more.

An equivalent Solatube sun tunnel delivers 10 times more light than a flexible sun tube


And even if you do ask a builder to install a sun pipe, whatever you do PLEASE ensure they don’t persuade you to have a flexible sun tunnel system. I’ve talked about this many times before, but if there’s only one piece of advice you take away from this it is, ‘do not install a flexible sun tunnel system’ as they just do not deliver any meaningful amounts of light.

Without the experience of installing numerous types of system, a builder might think that a flexible sun tube system is easier to install. But they’re not, and if your flexible sun tunnel is bent round roof timbers and obstacles to get it in, then each bend restricts the aperture, and combined with the light bouncing off the crinkled surface in all directions rather than down the tube, you’ll end up with very little light at the end of the tube.

98% or 99.7% reflective – it makes a BIG difference

Most other systems use a less reflective material than Solatube sun tunnels. It may not sound like a big difference but just consider the physics for a moment:

    98% reflective: Each time light bounces down the tube it loses 2% of its energy, or light. Over just 10 bounces that equates to a 20% loss of light.

    7% reflective: Each time light bounces down the tube it loses just 0.3% of its energy, or light. Over 10 bounces that equates to a tiny 3% loss of light.

Not all architects have experienced Solatube tubular daylight systems

What else… oh, one more thing; the number of people coming to talk to us with plans for their new homes. It’s great to share the joy and excitement of these people as they talk excitedly about how a new home is going to change and improve their lives. What never ceases to amaze me, though, is that whilst these plans sometimes include a Solatube sun pipe to help light up a dark interior, the architect or designer has had very little experience of how much light these systems can deliver.

Seeing a small hallway, study or bathroom with 2, 3 and sometimes 4 systems specified when just a single, small 250mm diameter Solatube sun tunnel will be more than enough is deeply frustrating. Why would anyone install MORE sun tunnel systems than are actually needed? It costs more!

A Solatube sun pipe is far brighter than most people think

A Solatube sun pipe delivers LOTS of incredibly bright daylight; far more than most people can believe; that is until they see one for themselves. So just take a look at this video of a house in the Scottish Borders to get a really good idea as to just how effective and bright a Solatube sun pipe is

And then talk to ANY of our customers and you won’t be left in the dark as to how bright a Solatube sun pipe is (nearly all our customers are so impressed and proud with their Solatube sun tunnel that they offer to allow other people to come and see them, so please just ask me and I can arrange it for you).

I hope all the above helps and If you are interested in bringing natural light into your home, why not contact us at; 07778 283 427 to find out whether a Solatube sun pipe can help you. Typically, a fully installed system might cost anywhere between £900 – £1,200; that’s supplied, professionally installed and includes the VAT.

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