Solatube sun pipe vs Skylight

Are skylights a good idea?

A traditional skylight window has the ability to be opened (if you can reach them!) and sometimes you can see out of them. So why would you install a Solatube sun tunnel?

If a view is not required, then a sun pipe system has many advantages over traditional roof windows. In particular, where you have a conventional horizontal ceiling with roof space above, you will find that traditional skylights are considerably more expensive and less effective and efficient in lighting the room below. Solatube sun tunnels, however, are designed specifically for situations such as these; they can deliver significant amounts of daylight for their size, yet require no structural modifications. 

Light Output

Solatube sun pipes deliver significant amounts of light for their size, delivering the same (often more) daylight as traditional roof windows, but through a far smaller aperture. They are also efficient on all roof aspects, whereas traditional roof windows are efficient only on south-facing aspects. Fresnel lenses in the roof dome also means the system makes the most of low level sun – during winter and early morning/evening. 

Another consideration is that traditional roof windows with their light wells create a shaft of light, whereas the daylight from a Solatube sun pipe is evenly spread throughout the room thanks to the ceiling diffuser. 



Heat Loss / Heat Gain

The thermal efficiency of a traditional roof window is poor compared to that of a Solatube sun pipe; in winter, heat will escape through the large aperture in your ceiling, whereas in summer you are likely to suffer from solar gain (heat build-up).   

Solatube sun tunnels have excellent insulation properties with u-values of just 1.3 W/m²K – better than some double-glazed windows.* Furthermore, they are double-glazed at ceiling level (not roof level) to prevent your expensive heated (or cooled) air escaping from the room below into the roof void.  

Also, rain falling onto traditional roof windows can be surprisingly noisy, something that doesn't happen with tubular daylighting systems. And If security is a consideration, then our Solatube systems are a far safer bet than a traditional roof window as our Polycarbonate dome material is considerably stronger than glass - and many times stronger than acrylic!

* The award-winning Solatube Energy Care Optima™ add-on enhancement is available to provide even greater thermal efficiency for your Solatube sun tunnel, with u-values as low as 0.5 W/m²K – that’s passive house standard! 






While roof windows are typically a stand-alone feature, our Solatube sun tunnels come with a wide range of fully integrated accessories – including a bathroom ventilation kit and electric lighting, giving you the option of a neat, multi-functional unit in one system.




Condensation is often an issue with traditional roof lights, whereas our Solatube sun pipes are designed to dissipate any condensation that may form out on to the roof. Light wells are also a haven for cobwebs, flies and spiders and will require frequent cleaning. Solatube sun pipes, on the other hand, require no cleaning or maintenance.  


Check out our Ultimate Guide to sun pipes and sun tunnels for more information.


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