Skylights or solar tube?

msmagooMarch 13, 2011

Has anyone installed either of these in a home with 8 ft ceilings? Would love to have one installed to lighten up a room w/natural light, but I am not sure if it can be done with out having cathedral ceilings. I mean it would have to be drywall up to the roof, kinda like a tunnel. Am I thinking right? We have a ranch style home.



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The solatube is sort of like a recessed light, if you will. You will see just the disc on the ceiling. The tube that runs up to the roof is lined with a shiny metal surface. There is a larger variety of what you can do, ie with a light for nightime use, a shade so as to block the light if necessary during the day, different filters to give different color of light (blue vs white, etc).

The skylight we had in our last house is as you are describing, a "tunnel" of drywall is made up to the skylight.

We are planning on installing a solartube in our laundry room. It will provide a lot of light, and only minimal space is needed. It will also be great because it will really backlight my frosted door to that room without having to put a light on (during the day, of course).

Lots of information is available on the web.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sola Tube

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 3:51PM
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msmagoo, we had a solatube and liked it very much. Our ceilings were 9 feet, but we had no problems. Has a bit of a "porthole" look at first, which we got used to and stopped looking up at.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 6:10PM
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When we had our roof replaced a few years back, we had 4 solar tubes installed; three in our hallway and one in the kids upstairs bathroom. I wish I had one more installed in our walk in closet.

Our house faces north and is shaded, the front entrance and upstairs hall used to be a dark tunnel; you could not walk without having a light on and the kids always left the lights on. With the solar tubes, there is natural light at all times, what a difference they made! Even at night, we get moonlight through them which is like having a natural night light. We had three installed with a light fixture in place so they function with both natural light and then electrical for back up.

These things are installed with silver, reflective tubes up to your roof so very little space is required, unlike a skylight which needs to be drywalled up to the roof. A skylight lets in heat, these don't. In the summer, we have a shade that we pull over our skylight to keep the summer sun and associated heat out of the house. Not an issue with the solar tubes.

We did not install the name brand 'SolaTube' or whatever they are called, we installed less expensive imitations, basically the smae exact item without the high price tag. I think they were one of the best improvements we made, wish I had at least one more.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 9:33AM
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How do you decide the placement of the tubes? I mean, do you put them where you would put a light? Sandra, you said you had some installed w/a light fixture. Do they come with lights, or do you have to install a light in addition? Any idea of cost?
Thanks guys!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 10:14AM
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We have 2 solar tubes,(sun tunnels)in our inside kit.(no windows) but much higher ceiling, vaulted, and they are awesome, go with the bigger size if you can..

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 10:25AM
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The tubes are on my wish list. My father had one put in his upstairs hallway and it makes a huge difference.

I am so glad you posted sandra_zone6. I would have never thought to put one in my closet and that is a fabulous idea!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 11:01AM
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We have a solatuba in our very large master bathroom. I wanted to be able to use the room in the daylight without having to turn lights on, but we had no opportunities for windows that would make sense. This was my solution and I'm 300% happy with it.

The "disc" on the ceiling can be a bit of an eyesore at first, but we're used to it. Ours has a ceiling light about 2 feet away so I tend to see it more than I would if it weren't so close to the fixture.

This was a new construction, and I had never had any type of skylight before. If I could go back, I would have installed about 5 more in the laundry room and hallways.

BTW ours had a few options for the outside lens part. We went with a more expensive option because it was rated for hail, and I'm in the midwest.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 11:42AM
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I have skylights throughout my house, built in 1978> The house has lower ceilings....about 7'8" is the overall ceiling height. When I purchased the house in 1989, I had the sky lights installed in 3 locations, even with the lower ceilings. They work wonderfully well (these do not open), have never, ever leaked, and I'm so glad I opened those 3 closed in rooms (all baths) to the outside light.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 4:11PM
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I purchased ours from The Skylight Guys - do a google search. At the time, we just could not afford the name brand ones; glad now that we never spent that much for them. There are many other online resources, this is just the one I used, in no way affiliated with them and my purchase was probably about 6 or 8 years ago.

This is going back quite a few years, but I had emailed them pictures of the areas, dimensions and they responded back with recommended sizes. I went with a single 18" without light kit for over the stairs; this lights up my front entrance and stairway. In the hallway and bathroom, I have 2 13" and these were both purchased with a light kit. Check out the online store, they are not expensive for the light kits and well worth it. We used to have can lights in those locations, so we got rid of them and installed the tubes. Same in the bathroom.

We have the prism curved lens and I use CFL bulbs in these tubes. I have not been happy with the longevity of CFL lights, but in the tubes they seem to last forever for whatever reason. We did have to buy extra tubes to go through the attic. All of our roof domes are on the back side of our house so no affect to curb appeal.

These have absolutely no cons to them, IMO, and my only wish is I had installed more; particularly in our closets.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 4:24PM
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We put a skylight in our new kitchen and we have 8ft ceilings. We really like it.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 5:27PM
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My daughter had SolaTubes installed in two windowless bathrooms, which have made a huge difference. They've been in at least six years & she's had no problems with them. I believe they are less expensive than skylights & are less prone to leakage problems too.

However, the standard (plastic) cover gives a blueish cast, which bothers me a lot. If I were having one installed, I would inquire about yellowish/gold/warm-toned covers.

That said, the difference in the rooms is wonderful.

1 Like    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 10:26PM
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I can see the value of Solartubes, they have been around a long time now and seem to have good reviews.
We chose large Velux skylights, 2 in the family room and 3 in the 2 story gallery (foyer). We have an IR remote control to open and close one skylight in the foyer for passive ventilation. It has sensors to make it close if they detect rain. All our skylights are impact rated and low e. We love them. In addition to all the wonderful light they provide we see eagles, airplanes, trees, the moon, and clouds passing overhead through them.

A quality skylight correctly installed will not leak.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 11:30PM
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My kitchen has 8 1/2 foot ceiling. We put in a large skylight and love it. We bought a frosted skylight, it diffused the light beautify.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 11:25PM
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We have skylights in 3 bathrooms that have 9 foot ceilings and we love them. You do have to dry wall the sides up the skylight, but that doesn't really bother us. We love the amount of light they let in. My SIL has solatubes, and I would say that one of the advantages of the skylight is that one decent sized skylight lets in a lot more natural light than 1 solatube. So, you may have to have multiple solatubes to achieve the light you want. Good luck!

1 Like    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:13AM
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We have 2 solar/sun tunnels in our inside kit./bk area and luv them! before had to turn lights on in kit during the day more! and vaulted ceilings, much higher then 8', skylights vare out sun tunnels are in here in FL., why put a huge hole in the roof when same light,effect can be done with a smaller round hole..

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:39AM
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Oops, sorry posted CRS forgot!

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 11:41AM
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I love skylights. My problem is that they get dirty on the outside and I am unable to climb up onto the roof to clean them. They also let in a lot of heat in the summer. I've never had a skylight leak (knock on wood).

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 1:44PM
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I agree with forhgtv. I have had sky lights in two different houses. They do tend to get dirty and sometimes you need a shade or blind if the sun shines directly in to it. What I liked about it was the ability to open it and get better ventilation n the room. The tubes sound good and I imagine they are less costly.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 7:26PM
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It is great to read all the wonderful reviews regarding the Solar Tubes. We are planning an addition to our house which includes adding another storey to part of the existing house. As a result, we will have a main floor bathroom without a window. Do the Solar tubes still work if you are trying to light a room that is not on the top level? Thanks!


    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 5:18PM
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We have a ranch style house and put in 2 skylights when we remodeled. The opening at ceiling level is much larger than the opening at the roof so the "tunnel" angles outward and provides more light.

I really liked the idea of a solar tube until I saw it installed in a friends home. It had a weird blue glow to it and looked kind of cheap. No offense to those who love them. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:18AM
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