Living in the built up and crowded streets of the UK, small houses, back to back and terraces are commonplace. Getting light into small houses or those with internal bathrooms can be very difficult. Good lighting is a must, but there is nothing like natural daylight to make a room look at its best. So what are the options for people who have rooms which are either devoid of windows or where the windows are small or have to be frosted?
A solar tube offers an alternative to light bulbs and can bring sunlight into homes without having to install new window openings. This offers the additional benefit of saving on electricity costs and reducing the carbon footprint of your home.
A solar tube captures the light from outside and allows it to travel from your roof into any room in your house. The tube is reflective allowing as much of the light as possible to pass down the tube, rather than be absorbed while it travels.
Generally the tube combines a lens or dome which sits on the roof. When the light enters the dome it is reflected from any angle which increases the intensity of the light. This light then passes down the tube which is close to 100% reflective, ensuring that almost all of the light reaches the room. Once the light reaches the inside of the house it passes through a diffuser which spreads the light around the room. The diffuser is often a flat modern fitting which is unobtrusive and looks as good as any light fitting.
The advantages of a solar tube are many:
- They can be installed in almost any location in your home. The tube can stretch almost any distance, although those rooms closest to the light source will have the best output.
- Often the light given off is better than that achieved by the insertion of a skylight or window. The light has no obstructions such as trees or buildings and so it can be very bright indeed.
- Usually the light is filtered of its UV component. This means that your furnishings will not fade and the light is softer and more natural.
- The addition of a window could cause substantial heat loss in any room. A solar tube will only have a small opening and therefore heat loss is minimal. In addition if the weather is very warm, the amount of direct sunlight coming into the room is much less, making the area cooler.
- Installing a solar tube can be cheaper than installing a new window or skylight which would offer the same level of light.
- Solar tubes are easy to install yourself and should only take a day to complete. There should be little mess and minimal redecoration required.
- Exposure to natural sunlight is also good for your health as it provides vitamin D. It is thought that seasonal affective disorder or SAD is caused by a lack of good sunlight in the winter months and a lack of natural light can cause sleep disorders.
Obviously a solar tube is only effective during the day, but they take advantage of one of the few free products still available to us – sunlight. It is not only good for us, but it will save us money.