Solar Tubes Beat Traditional Skylights for Low-Cost Daylighting

Solar tube before and after in a bathroomAs you can see in this before/after shot, a bathroom is one place where constant, indirect natural light could come in handy. Image: Solatube

If you’ve been thinking of adding more daylight to a kitchen or dark hallway, a solar tube may be the way to go. At a fraction of the cost of a skylight, a solar tube provides plenty of warm, indirect light.

How it works

Known variously as a sun tube, sun tunnel, light tube, or tubular skylight, a solar tube is a 10- or 14-inch-diameter sheet-metal tube with a polished interior. The interior acts like a continuous mirror, channeling light along its entire length while preserving the light’s intensity. It captures daylight at the roof and delivers it inside your home.

On your roof, a solar tube is capped by a weather-proof plastic globe. The tube ends in a porthole-like diffuser in the ceiling of a room below. The globe gathers light from outside; the diffuser spreads the light in a pure white glow. The effect is dramatic: New installations often have home owners reaching for the light switch as they leave a room.

Cost

A light tube costs about $500 when professionally installed, compared to more than $2,000 for a skylight. If you’re reasonably handy and comfortable working on a roof, install a light tube yourself using a kit that costs $150 to $250. Unlike a skylight, a light tube doesn’t require new drywall, paint, and alterations to framing members.

How much light?

A 10-inch tube, the smallest option, is the equivalent of three 100-watt bulbs, enough to illuminate up to 200 sq. ft. of floor area; 14-inch tubes can brighten as much as 300 sq. ft.

Popular locations for a light tube include any areas where constant indirect light is handy:

  • hallways
  • stairways
  • bathrooms

The only place you don’t want a light tube is above a TV or computer screen where it might create uncomfortable glare.

Bringing a light tube through multiple levels

Channeling light down to the first floor of a two-story house is feasible if you have a closet or mechanical chase through which you can run the tube. The job can quickly become more complicated if there’s flooring to cut through, or if you encounter wiring, plumbing, and HVAC ducts.

Is your house right for a light tube?

Because installation requires no framing alteration, there are few limitations to where you can locate a light tube. Check the attic space above to see if there is room for a straight run. If you find an obstruction, elbows or flexible tubing may get around it. It’s relatively easy to install a light tube in a vaulted ceiling because only a foot or so of tubing is required.

Make these evaluations in advance:

  • Roof slope: Most light tube kits include flashing that can be installed on roofs with slopes between 15° (a 3-in-12 pitch) and 60° (a 20-in-12 pitch).
  • Roofing material: Kits are designed with asphalt shingles in mind, but also work with wood shingles or shakes. Flashing adapters for metal or tile roofs are available.
  • Roof framing spacing: Standard rafters are spaced 16 inches on-center; gap enough for 10- or 14-inch tubes. If your home has rafters positioned 24 inches on-center, you can special order a 21-inch tube for light coverage up to 600 sq. ft.
  • Location: A globe mounted on a southwest roof gives the best results. Choose a spot requiring a run of tubing that’s 14 feet or less. A globe positioned directly above your target room can convey as much as 98% of exterior light. A tube that twists and turns minimally reduces the light.
  • Weather: If you live in a locale with high humidity, condensation on the interior of the tube can be a problem. Wrapping the tube with R-15 or R-19 insulation greatly cuts condensation. Some manufacturers offer sections of tubing with small fans built in to remove moist air. If you live in a hurricane-prone area, opt for an extra-hardy polycarbonate dome.

Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/lighting/solar-tubes-beat-skylights/#ixzz2uKr3UqqT
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About padreeliteteam

Alta Monroe, Gayle Hood, Jules Wilk & Laurie Howell are a full-time professional and dynamic team known as the Padre Elite Team with RE/MAX 1st Choice in South Padre Island. Quality service for their clients is their number one priority. To them, it is about the client's needs and protecting their interests. Finding just the right property for their buyers or helping their sellers get their property SOLD is their goal. Helping clients step through the complicated process of buying or selling a property to a smooth closing is essential to them. A personal Bio on each of the team agents is posted on their website at www.PadreEliteTeam.com. The South Padre Island real estate industry is changing faster than ever these days. With the changes in the economy, there are new challenges with buyers, sellers, foreclosures, short sales, Internet marketing, our education, increases in inventories, changes in comparable sales, and frustrating politics. Alta, Gayle, Laurie, and Jules strive to stay on top of all of these changes and to keep in touch with their clients. Alta, Gayle, Jules & Laurie all hold designations they have acquired through eduction. These designations include CLHMS, CRS, GRI, RSPS, CPN, ePRO, SFR and RSPS. Gayle and Jules both hold the CLHMS (Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist) designation and they are the ONLY agents in the entire Rio Grande Valley that are members of the Institute of Luxury Home Marketing. This better qualifies them to share their specialized expertise with a luxury home seller or buyer. Making sure the buyer and the seller are represented correctly is a priority for this team. Investing in TREPAC (Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee) is important to this team since TREPAC has proven to be a major force in Texas by lobbying for Realtors and property rights for the consumer. For many years, the Padre Elite Team has been a major investor in TREPAC. Alta and Gayle have attended the National Association of Realtors Mid-Year Conference in Washington, D.C. often. The conference is primarily for Realtors that are Board directors or executives. It is a great way to stay on top of the current issues facing Realtors and homeowners in our country. They get to meet with their Senators and Congressmen to express their concerns. Last year they were invited to attend the Realtor PAC President’s Circle Conference in New York where they heard many famous guest speakers regarding current real estate issues. The Padre Elite Team also attends the RE/MAX International Conference each year to acquire more education and to keep up with the latest technology available to Realtors in the Marketplace. They have received numerous awards for being Top Producers in the real estate industry. Education is a priority for this entire team including their assistant, Grace. The GOOD news is that 2012, 2013, 2014 and now 2015 proved to be better each year for real estate sales in South Padre Island and the surrounding areas of Port Isabel, Laguna Vista/South Padre Island Golf Community, and Bayview. The real estate market is showing an increase in the number of sales and a leveling of values. Now that the market has hit the bottom, investors are finding that real estate is a great place to invest their money. It is still a buyer's market and a great time to buy. Alta, Gayle, Jules & Laurie all agree that it has been such a pleasure to live & work in a resort area such as South Padre Island. A hundred of your closest friends and family will visit when you live near the beach! Clients are always encouraged to contact them. For more information about this team and to view their blog, visit www.PadreEliteTeam.com.
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