What Are The Drawbacks Of Solar Tube Lighting

Solar Tube Lighting vs Skylights

Because of the rising electricity costs, many people all over the world are looking for a more eco-friendly solution to reduce their energy bills.

And there is no better way to reduce the cost of electricity than opting for a stylish and mood-boosting skylight or solar tube that will bring much-needed sunlight into your home.

But which is better?

Well, there is a lot to consider and in this article, we will go through in depth analysis of the pros and drawbacks of both skylights and solar tube lighting.

So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

skylights vs solar tube lighting


Skylights are mainly made of acrylic, glass, and sometimes using polycarbonate to ensure further durability.

Each skylight features a frame set with a flashing to prevent water leakage and prolong its lifespan even more.

Skylights are available in many different sizes and styles that will suit all your decorating needs.

You can find them in a small 12 x 12 inch square and up to 15% of the room’s square footage providing a cozy warm atmosphere from the sunny daylight and a great romantic ambiance from the star-filled night.

Skylights can be pretty hard to install on your own.

As you need to carefully cut the rafters, then reinforcing the rafters’ surroundings, so they can withstand the skylight weight without collapsing.

Thus, you will need professional carpentry skills to do so, which makes skylights pretty pricey.

Generally speaking, between the skylight price and the installation cost, the average skylight can cost anywhere from $1,000 and up to $3,800 depending on the size, material, weatherproof coating, UV, venting, and shades.

Pros of Skylights

  • Available in many sizes and styles that will suit all your decorating needs
  • Won’t only beautify your home, but also reduce the electricity cost
  • A regular skylight will gather 3 times the light of a regular window
  • Very durable and can be used in any climate
  • Refresh your room’s air

Cons of Skylights

  • On the expensive side
  • Although they are UV filtered, they won’t block 100% of UV rays, which can damage your skin and eyes. However, it can be very useful, as it will provide you with a proper amount of Vitamin D

Related article: Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Energy

What Are The Drawbacks Of Solar Tube Lighting

Solar Tube Lighting

Tubular skylights, also known as solar tubes, light tubes, and sun tunnels are one of the most energy-efficient ways to illuminate your home.

Similar to traditional skylights, solar tubes are made of polycarbonate or acrylic domes that are placed on the roof of your home.

These domes will capture sunlight and reflect it down a metal tube into the attic and with the help of a diffusing lens in the room’s ceiling, it will shite the sunlight through the room.

Solar tubes are available in many different sizes starting from 10 inches and all the way to 20 feet.

As for the installation, it’s much easier to install a solar tube than to install a skylight, as solar tubes require no rafters cutting or reinforcing. In fact, you can install a solar tube in about 2 hours.

Because of the ease of installation and the availability of materials, solar tubes can cost nearly half the price of a skylight.

Pros of Solar Tubes

1. Tubular Skylights Have High Energy Efficiency

Because light is captured and diffused into the home, without losing energy to heat gain during summer months making solar tubes an optimal choice for illuminating your home in hot climates without paying huge electricity bills each month for air conditioning.

Related article: How Many Solar Panels Do I Need to Run Air Conditioner

2. Great Design

Although skylights are very aesthetic and help improve your home ambiance in addition to allowing you to enjoy the wonderful sky view day and night, solar tubes have a more subtle design that illuminates your home without calling attention.

Further, one of the main solar tubes advantages is the design flexibility and the ability to fit into smaller places, making them a very practical way to light up your home

So, if you wish to add more light to your house without altering its architecture or sacrificing a lot of space, then solar tubes are just made for you.

3. Solar Tube Lighting Is Water and Weatherproof

Skylights and solar tubes will be completely fine in any climate. However, if you live in a heavy snow area, then opting for a skylight won’t optimal, as it will be covered in snow almost all winter preventing you from enjoying the sky view.

Also, skylights collect debris, like leaves, that can prevent rainfall and snow from draining off the roof, which will ruin your coating and find its way to your ceiling.

On the other hand, solar tubes have a lower risk of leaks, as they have a small and relatively flat dome, which allows the water to drain around them.

Another factor to consider is water condensation, which can be easily eliminated by wrapping the solar tube with insulation.

4. Budget-Friendly

Although solar tubes might look very luxurious, they are in fact, pretty cheap compared to skylights.

This is because it’s much easier to manufacture the tubes and they are very easy to install, as they don’t require any major changes to your walls or framing.

In fact, you can even install them yourself using a pretty cheap solar tube installing kit. 

However, it’s important to mention that in some scenarios where you need to install the tube around wiring or pipes, it might be better to hire a professional.

What Are the Drawbacks of Solar Tube Lighting?

1. Solar Tubes Gives You Less Control

Unlike skylights, solar tubes don’t give you enough control over the amount of sunlight you let in.

For instance, most skylights come with shades that work just like window shades, allowing you to control the amount of sunlight you let in.

Also, there are plenty of skylight diffusers that will help you to distribute sunlight however you like, giving you even more control.

On the other hand, shades and venting aren’t really an option with solar tubes.

Don’t get me wrong, you can still use diffusers and window films to protect you and your furniture from the harmful UV lights, you won’t have as many options as available for skylights.

2. They Aren’t As Aesthetic As Skylights

While solar tube lighting is more energy-efficient and cost way less than skylights, one of their main drawbacks is that you won’t be able to enjoy the breathtaking sky view.

What we all love about skylights is the comfy and warm ambiance they give off every morning and the romantic star-filled sky at night.

Installing skylights will also add more luxury to your room and make it feel larger, unlike solar tubes that are too small to affect the room’s appearance.

It’s important to mention that solar tubes don’t look bad, in fact, they are very stylish, yet, they aren’t as good as skylights.

3. Solar Tubes Aren’t Suitable to Every Home

One of the solar tubes drawbacks is that they are not equally suited to every home, as most of them are designed for roofs with a slope of 15-60 degrees.

For this reason, if you have a steeply pitched roof such as an A-frame, installing a regular solar tube might be very impractical if not impossible.

4. Can’t Install Ventilations

Most skylights work as traditional windows, meaning that you can open them to catch a gentle breeze or release some of the heat.

On the other hand, tubular skylights don’t and you can’t even install ventilation to refresh the room’s air.

5. Tubular Skylights Aren’t Optimal for Big Buildings

The problem with solar tube lighting is it depends on the tube length. In other words, the longer the tube is, the less light it produces, which makes them less effective.

For this reason, it’s recommended to use light tubes for one story depth, as the deeper they are the less light they produce.

Also, indirect sunlight won’t be as effective as direct sunlight, so if your roof is shaded during the day and you can’t remove these obstacles, it would be better to opt for a skylight instead.

Skylights Vs Solar Tube Lighting

TypeSkylightsSolar Tube Lighting
Energy EfficiencyGoodBetter
DurabilityVery DurableVery Durable
AppearanceMore asethetic and will give off a great ambianceMore subtle and won’t miss with you interior decoration
WeatherproofWater build-up can cause a leakLower risk of leaks
VentilationCan be opened to catch a breeze and refresh your room’s airCan’t be open them nor install ventilation
Lifespan8-15 years10-20 years
Skylights vs solar tube lighting

Last Words

As promised, in this article we talked about skylights and solar tube lighting and mentioned the pros and cons of each of them.

Which is better?

Well, it’s really hard to tell, as every home needs are unique and there are a lot of factors to consider, such as your roof type, personal preferences, and of course, budget.

So, please let us know your opinion in the comments section below.

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