Solatubes...anyone out there?

susanelewisJune 19, 2010

We will be getting an estimate on Monday for 5 Solatubes with varying accessories. These are not off-the-counter HDepot or Lowe's items but the real thing direct from a certified installer. I am wondering if anyone has had them installed recently and if you got any of the acessories, like the in-line exhaust fan. Did you pick the OptiView or Vusion Diffusers?

It is amazing to me how many people have not heard of daylighting solutions for the dark areas of your home. Hopefully someone here can give me some hints based on experience.

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We had one installed in our living room in our manufactured home in Florida. It was installed at least 15 years ago, and it was a "Solatube". I absolutely love it and wished I had had more than one installed. There were no goodies to go along with it, back in those olden days, but it still is wonderful. There have been no leaks or any problems with it. Everybody thinks we have a bright light in the middle of the ceiling.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2010 at 11:11PM
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We just had 3 Solatubes installed and are glad we did. We got the standard diffusers. The installer said the other one can give you a rainbow effect. We didn't want to call more attention to them. I have to say that I did think the light was a little bluish, so we put the amber lens on them. But do be aware that the lens won't match the ceiling (not noticeable in the daytime, but you might think they look "dirty" at night). It was worth the trade off for us because we prefer the softer light. I had originally wanted a 14" in my 8 x 10 laundry room, but the installer talked me into just a 10" - I wish it were brighter. But we are happy overall.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 1:49PM
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Last week I saw the two different diffusers on display. Definitely, there is a rainbow effect with the one with prisms (OptiView). Not sure I want that either in a room. However, I did notice more light coming from the OptiView diffuser. The installer is coming next month to put in two in the separate hallways. He will bring the lenses so I can see the difference. Good hint on how they would look at night. I saw the amber one and was averse to the tint but I can see where it might be too harsh. We have a long run to the roof top so it might cut down the brightness. In any event, I cannot wait!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 3:30PM
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I just thought of something else -- in case the light kit is one of the accessories you were considering. I put a solatube in DH's closet (which he loves), and I added the light kit, which is really just a bulb up in the tube. For the closet it is fine since it eliminates having to have another light fixture in the ceiling in a small space. But I don't like the way I can see the bulb when it is turned on at night. I wouldn't like looking at it in a public part of the house -- not very attractive. So I opted not to put the light kit in the hallway and laundry solatubes.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 9:32PM
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That is a very good point, chgo. I am considering it in a full bath where I am replacing an exhaust fan/light/nightlight/heater unit. I had planned on pulling that unit out and using the hole for a 10" Solatube with an exhaust fan and light kit. I'm not too thrilled that I have to go with a wussy CFL to begin with (the DSe line that qualifies for the tax rebate only allows a CFL) but if it's ugly, that will make it worse.

I am wondering if using the OptiView diffuser (as opposed to the standard diffuser) would solve the problem of being able to see the bulb?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 12:08AM
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Hello susanelewis. I have been working on a bath remodel for several years now, and have finally picked it up again. I want to add the Solatube to my oversized shower, because I think it would be wonderful to wake up each day to the "Lord's morning light" streaming into my bathroom, and even better to shower being bathed in it! I have purchased the light kit so that I would also have a light at night in the shower, and remember deciding that since it was a "private" area, I'm the only one who might find the bulb showing at night as "ugly". At this moment, I can't remember whether I chose the OptiView prism or not, to help minimize the problem of seeing the bulb. I will need to check the box when I get home from my office.

Since yours is an older post, I am wondering what you decided, about the prism or how the light bulb looks. I am also intending to install the unit that you mentioned removing to make room for the Solatube, if it is one of the Panasonic "Whisper" products. Since I have room in my large bath for both, the Panasonic has gotten rave reviews for how quiet the fan is. Without looking at actual specs for noise levels on the Solatube accessory fan, I just think it might have difficulty matching the quiet of the Panasonic.

Please advise what you did, and what you learned. I'd be happy for anyone else's input, as well. Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:38PM
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In the time between my post of several years ago, I now have 4 Solatubes. The only one with a light is the one is the main bathroom which I rarely use. I can tell you that the only reason I added it was because it would have orphaned a switch. The light inside the tube is rarely used as we have a light bar over the mirror above the sink which is the primary light source.

These are my thoughts. The included Solatube light is no substitute for an overhead light. It is way too dim to be the only source of light. We removed the Nutone 4 function fan/light/nightlight/heat for the tube and have no regrets; possibly because my husband and I don't use that bathroom. Now that our son's getting married and moving out, heat in that bathroom became unnecessary and we FAR prefer the natural light in there.

In our master bath, we have the Panasonic 4 function fan and it is indeed the quietest fan I have ever heard. It is far quieter than the fan with the Solatube, although that one is pretty quiet also. The light with the Panasonic is also dimmer than I would like and is the only light source in our master bathroom toilet/shower room. My hubby complains about it all the time. The problem is the fluorescent used instead of the incandescent of the Nutone. We plan on remodeling our bathroom in a few years and we will add a Solatube over our shower w/o light for the same reason you stated. I really don't want an unsealed light fixture over an area that receives that much moisture. I may include a fan with the tube as well because despite the power of the Panasonic, it still could use some help.

There is no doubt that you can see a shadow of the light with the standard diffuser. I would definitely choose the prism diffuser if you think that will bother you. We may in the future replace our 2 standard ones but right now it's not a priority and I kind of like only having the prism ones in the 2 halls.

I would strongly recommend that you not rely on the light source in the tube as your only light source in your shower area. It's just too dim.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:58PM
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Hmmm, my contractor said these lights give off such a bright light it will kill you, like a thousand flourescents in your face, and he doesn't recommend them. It isn't natural light like a skylight, but is light that reflects off very shiny surfaces inside the unit, intensifying it dramatically. I just saw an article saying the exact same thing, that the light from these can be horribly overwhelming. I did read someone corrected it by putting some sort of cross-hatched fabric inside, but it took a lot of hit and misses to tone down the excessive brightness. I would check some out before I bought any.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 7:58PM
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Lindy, I have four of these in my home and therefore I can speak from personal experience. The natural light coming down the tube from the roof opening into the room is NOT overwhelming. I suspect your contractor simply doesn't want to put them in. It is beautiful crisp light that simply looks like you have an overhead light turned on. But it's natural light and therefore very crisp and clean.

I have them in 2 bathrooms (neither that large) and 2 hallways. The light-filled spaces are just amazing. I suggest that you visit an actual Solatube showroom of a business that sells/installs them can show you exactly what they look like. You do NOT need a cross-hatched fabric. I researched these and never heard of that. However, you can install a Solatube dimmer for rooms (like bedrooms or home theaters) where you want to decrease the incoming light significantly.

Finally, I have both Velux skylights and Solatubes and I have never thought the Solatubes were glaring compared to my skylights. The only way they could be if you put too large of a tube in a room. I like them both for different reasons. Solatubes can be installed in an hour and with very little effort if done by a skilled installer. Skylights require so much more work, but the effect of seeing the actual outdoors can't be beat. They complement each other very well.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 8:34PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd


Sounds like a contractor that doesn't want to put them in.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 8:15AM
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Does want to or know how to and unwilling to learn. By making up untruths he is not doing anyone any favors and the line he fed you is definitely an untruth and I would be leery of having him do any work for me period!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2012 at 11:35AM
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We love our Solatube! We have the standard lens and are very happy with it. Our tube is 27 feet long and makes two bends. We know that causes a little loss of light (they have a formula for it), but it's still bright enough and we're so glad we installed it. It completely changes the room for the better.

I was quite surprised by those who speculated it might look harsh or dirty. Ours looks great all the time! We don't have any of the "extras" (except two elbow bends in the tubing).

Our builder's assistant admired it so much that when he built his own house, we gave him a Solatube for an interior bathroom. His house is one-story so his Solatube has a short run. He loves his Solatube too.

Our experience with Solatube has definitely been favorable.

P.S. We have Panasonic vent fans in our bathrooms too. The quietness is due in large part to the way it's vented to the outside. You'll want to make sure your installer reads those instructions and doesn't just install it like other vent fans.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2012 at 10:29PM
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