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  • Writer's pictureCO Home Services

What are Sun Tunnels and How Do They Work?


Is your bathroom in Colorado without a window, a hallway with poor lighting, or a closet that looks like a basement? Do you need to add light to these rooms without remodeling the house? There’s a fantastic solution known as sun tunnels, solar tubes, or sun tube skylights. These innovative devices can make the darkness of your rooms look like natural daylight.


According to a recent study, natural light enhances your house's look and has additional benefits for health and well-being. It can improve your mood, motivate you to increase physical activity, give you more vitamin D, and even regulate your sleep patterns.


In this blog we will explore sun tunnels (and how they work) to help you better understand them and make the right decision when it comes to installing a sun tunnel in your home.


What Are Sun Tunnels?

Sun tunnels, also known as sun tube skylights or solatube skylights, are unique solutions for introducing natural light to interior spaces where conventional windows cannot be installed. They collect sunlight through a cone-like roof, transmit it through a transparent and shiny tube in the ceiling, and then spread light evenly across the room below, producing warm and natural light. 


This is one of the central sun tunnel benefits because your indoor lighting is improved substantially without needing to use more energy. Through Colorado daylighting solutions, homeowners benefit from natural lighting, which boosts mood and reduces the need for interior lighting, where ultimately their energy bills drop!

They are useful when you want light hallways, the bathroom, the closet, or any other small and dark area that isn’t exposed to exterior sunlight. Their features make them practical and environmentally friendly solutions that provide the best light capture method and distribution for homes.


If you want to learn about how to install a solatube or skylight correctly, click here,


What Are the Types of Sun Tunnels?

People in Colorado rarely know the different types of solar tubes available, but the most popular options are:


Rigid Sun Tunnels

Rigid sun tubes include a straight, solid pipe that extends from the rooftop dome to the diffuser within the interior space. The material used in the tube is highly reflective, which means that light gets transmitted to the farthest end of the tube with little loss.


Flexible Sun Tunnels

Flexible sun tubes consist of bendable tubes that can bend around wiring, ducts, or other structural elements. The interior surface is still highly reflective, but the flexible design allows for easier installation in complex spaces.


Sun Tunnel Vs Bubble Skylight

We understand that that our over 300 days of sunshine in Colorado is cherished, so choosing between a sun tunnel and a sun bubble skylight can significantly impact your home's ambiance and energy efficiency.


Design and Structure

As previously discussed, sun tubes involve a spiral four-section polycarbonate dome on the roof connected to a reflective tube that directs light to the available room. 

On the other hand, bubble skylights include a dome or bubble-shaped covering put directly on the roof to allow light in through a large, window-like pane.


Light Distribution

Sun tunnels have a diffuser at the end of the tube that delivers focused and evenly distributed light. Bubble skylights sometimes provide unbalanced and direct sunlight since the angle at which the light enters is much larger.


How Do Sun Tunnels Work?

Here's a step-by-step explanation of how these systems work. 


Installation Of The Dome

First, a sun dome is installed on top of the building. Spherical in shape, usually transparent, and made from UV-resistant perspex or clear polycarbonate during the day, this dome captures sunlight from all directions. From the dome's design, it is still possible to allow maximum illumination, especially during dawn and dusk when the sun is not directly overhead.


The Dome Magnifies the Light

The light that enters the dome gets intensified. This light is constricted and amplified to allow more light intensity, boosting efficiency in the tube skylight system. This is essential so that the maximum amount of light can be directed towards the inside of the building.


The Reflection of Light Into the Room

After the sunlight has been trapped and concentrated, it passes through a highly reflective tube. The interior lining of this tube is made from a material that can fully reflect the light that falls upon it. This ensures that there is very little light loss as the light is reflected down the tube, along the full length. Skylight tube specialists design the tubes as efficiently as possible, and the light passes through bends and turns if any are present.


The Diffuser Spreads the Light Evenly

A light diffuser is at the end of the tube inside the room. The diffuser aims to distribute the light uniformly within the desired coverage area, thus eradicating areas of intense brightness and providing a natural, soft, glowing light. One of the advantages of installing a Colorado sun tunnel is that the light is evenly distributed across the room vs just a spotlight effect.


Benefits of Sun Tunnels For Colorado Homeowners

Here are the key benefits of sun tubes that help Colorado residents enhance their house lighting:


Natural Lighting

Sun tunnels allow natural lighting to enter areas of a structure without windows or minimal natural light access. Natural lighting benefits are far superior to artificial light in brightening up a space and improving any area's overall feeling. It also faithfully captures colors, getting closer to the actual representation of colors for the human eye than artificial light.


Energy Efficiency

Another benefit of sun tubes is that they tap into the free and readily available light from the sun. Thus, they curtail the amount of artificial lighting and energy needed, resulting in lower electricity costs. This is yet another benefit that explains why skylight tubes are a good investment for homeowners.


Furthermore, incorporating natural lighting as an illumination source lessens carbon dioxide emissions, helping homeowners to live more green. Where people seek to address green building certifications and energy-efficient planning, a solar tube is ideal as it embraces environmentalism.


For further information and studies about how to make your home energy efficient, click here.


Easy Installation

Generally, sun tubes are easier to install than traditional skylights or new windows into a home’s exterior walls or roof. Installation of a standard structure usually takes about 3-5 hours, making structural changes insignificant. This makes sun tubes a versatile solution that can be implemented in new constructions and existing home upgrade projects.


The installation flexibility is also an added bonus because sun tunnels are easier to install than their traditional skylight counterparts, which would require significant renovations and are more expensive.


Versatility and Adaptability

Sun tunnels can be incorporated into numerous styles and types of buildings and rooms, such as houses, offices, and businesses. They are most useful in dark corridors, inside washrooms and closets, and in the basement where light from the sun does not easily penetrate. 


Many sun tunnel models come in rigid and flexible versions as we have already mentioned, which means there is always a solution for any layout or obstacle within the building. This shows that sun tubes can be flexibly installed in a building to meet specific lighting requirements and improve the living standards of the building occupants.


Enhanced Property Value

Sun tunnels can also add value to your property. Some builders consider them a way of enhancing the look of a room, particularly the kitchen area. Houses and facilities with practical natural lighting systems are more desirable to users and clients. 


Sun tubes are a valuable contributing factor to improving the overall appearance and light quality within your home, thus making them more appealing in a real estate transaction.


Do Sun Tunnels Leak?

With most options there is some potential for leaks if they are not properly installed or maintained. Here are some key points to consider regarding the leak potential of sun tunnels in Colorado:


Proper Installation

When installed correctly, the sun tunnel will not leak. A professional installing the skylight will ensure that the flashing, seals, and other components are correctly placed in their respective positions and tightened, thus avoiding leakage. Solatube and other high-quality sun tunnels have comprehensive installation guides and components to prevent home leakage.


Quality Materials

Sun tubes constructed from high-quality, UV-resistant material last longer than their inferior counterparts and do not leak easily. The dome covering on the roof may be made from flexible, impact-resistant acrylic or polycarbonate, which is well-adapted to different climates and weather patterns.  The flashing and seals used are designed to ensure that water cannot seep through and penetrate the roof.


Maintenance and Inspection

Sun tubes do not leak when proper maintenance and inspection are conducted on a regular basis. To find any problem early enough, one must inspect the seals, flashing, and dome for potential signs such as wear and tear to avoid a leakage problem. 


Occasionally, washing the dome and avoiding accumulating dirt or other materials helps maintain its efficiency and longevity for you home.


Weather Conditions

Heavy rains, snow, or high winds are often some of the most challenging weather conditions experienced through roof penetration, including sun tubes. Although sun tunnels are explicitly manufactured for these weather conditions, ensuring they have been well-fitted is essential to avoid water seeping through the gaps, especially during rainy or cold seasons.


Professional Installation vs. DIY

While there are DIY installation kits available on the market, it would be prudent to hire professionals to ensure that there is no leakage. Skylight specialists with specialized knowledge of different roof structures and their states offer a more secure and leak-free installation process.


Conclusion

Sun tunnels come in different types, both rigid and flexible, which makes it easier to install them based on the layout of the building. However, installing and maintaining them correctly is always essential so that they last for many years and perform their duty as expected. Overall, sun tubes are a cost-effective and environment-friendly option for bringing more light into your home, thus increasing the quality of life for you and your family.


Are you interested in getting new skylights and daylighting to improve your home? 

Visit Colorado Home Services right now to learn more about our variety of sun tunnels and skylights. Brighten up your environment with natural lighting and save on electricity bills. 


Please contact us for a free consultation and let us help you get more daylight into your home. 






FAQs

Are Sun Tunnels A Good Idea?

Sun tunnels are a wonderful idea for enhancing the penetrative natural light in parts of the home with no or low window openings, thereby greatly reducing artificial lighting expenses.

Do Sun Tunnels Work Without Sun?

Sun tunnels are designed to incorporate direct sun rays but can lend some illumination even on overcast days because they can capture and spread the existing daylight naturally.

How Long Do Sun Tunnels Last?

Sun tunnels require minimal maintenance and can last up to 20 years or more once the proper installation procedure has been followed.

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