What are sun tunnels? How they work and why you need them!
You have likely been to a home show or watched a renovation on TV and come across sun tunnels. Sun tunnels go by many names. Sometimes they are called sun tubes, tubular skylights, solar tubes, daylighting tubes/systems and sometimes they are referenced by the manufacturer: Solatube, Velux, Skytech, ODL or Columbia skylights.
Whatever name they are given, they all have the same end goal. Getting more sunlight into the dark spaces in your home.
At Ceiling Centre we carry the Solatube brand sun tunnel and have been installing them throughout Alberta for over 30 years. The information below is specific to the Solatube skylights.
How they work
Sun tubes are a fast and affordable way to bring more sunlight into your home. They are designed to install without any structural modification and can typically be installed in 2 hours.
At first glance the system seems very simple – a hole in your roof allows sunlight to enter a reflective tube which delivers the light into your home through a hole in the ceiling. The system can be paired down very effectively. Some countries use 2L pop bottles full of water and simply stick them in the roof to shine light inside.
The Solatube daylighting system is much more complex than this. Our harsh, Albertan climate requires the best in materials and technology. Thankfully, this also comes with the benefit of increasing light output and having a system in your roof that will last.
The dome on the roof sits on top of a seamless, steel flashing. The dome boasts Raybender 3000 technology which helps capture sunlight and bend it at a sharper angle down the tubing. This increases the amount of light collected early in the morning and later in the day. It also helps immensely in the winter when the sun angle is low.
Incredibly Reflective Tubing
The Solatube sun tunnels use Spectralight Infinity tubing which is the world’s most reflective material. This allows tube runs that are 30 feet long. We can install units to main floors through two story homes and even into basements. The tubing delivers beautiful natural looking light without tinting it.
The Solatube dome brings the light into the unit, the tubing delivers it through the unit, and lastly, the diffuser or lens spreads the light into your home. Solatube has round and square diffuser options. They are both designed to not only add style, but also maximize visual comfort within the space.
The above components make up the core system. You could easily stop there and be perfectly happy with the new sunlight you have in your home…or you could add more versatility to the system.
Light Add-on Kit
The light add-on kit installs an electric light inside the system. These are typically used to replace an existing light fixture (most commonly in hallways or closets). This gives you one fixture on the ceiling that delivers natural light when the sun is shining and the option to have additional electric light at the flick of a switch.
The Solatube bathroom ventilation unit combines the daylight delivery with bathroom ventilation. Again the system looks like on unit on the ceiling but has dual purpose. The fixture can be used to replace existing fans (without drywall repair) or used for applications where there was not a fan previously.
The daylight dimmer accessory is a solar powered damper that gives you full control of the amount of light coming into your home. It can be stopped at any point to give you the exact amount of light you want.
Solar Night Light
The newest addition to the Solatube product line is the solar night light. This is a small device that is installed inside the unit and charged throughout the day from the sun. At nighttime, it will automatically turn on and deliver a safety light that is perfect for bathrooms and stairwells.
Skylights - Before & After
Here are some frequently asked questions on the solar tube systems:
Where do you install sun tunnels?
Kitchens and bathrooms are the two most common rooms. Stairwells are very popular as well.
How much do sun tunnels cost?
Solatubes start at $1,099 supplied and installed.
How do I get an estimate for my home?
We offer free consultations to make sure you are getting the correct size for your space.
Can tubular skylights be run horizontally?
Yes, they can. We still recommend the flashing installed on the roof, but the tubing can be run horizontally in the attic space with the help from 0–90 degree angle adapters.
Can sun tubes run through floors?
Yes, the Solatube skylight can run up to 30’ in length.
How big are sun tubes?
They are available in 10 or 14” diameters.
Are sun tunnels maintenance free?
Yes, the entire system has seals to stop dirt/bug infiltration. The roof components do not allow debris build-up.
Do sun tunnels work in the winter?
Yes, the dome sits high enough on the roof to maintain collection throughout the winter.