Sunlight Pipes, Daylighting, and How Wonderful It Really Is


One of my ex-wives and I (oh Jim) used to live in Dallas, Texas a few years ago – and in our house was a series of daylight-utilizing devices.  We had a skylight that provided quite a lot of light for the Great Room, and a SolaTube-brand install in the kitchen.  That crazy SolaTube provided the most wonderful, bright, and high color temperature light that lasted long enough that turning the lights on in the kitchen during the day was a joke.  Quite honestly, I wish I had one of those SolaTubes in every freaking room of our house.  The technology is referred to as a Sunlight Pipe.  Below is a diagram of a typical sunlight pipe type install:

As you can see, the sunlight is basically and literally piped down into your home from whatever location the collector is placed – in our Dallas home, which was a ranch-style home, the “collector” was placed on the roof above the kitchen, and the sunlight hit what was essentially a very wide flood PAR lens. It was bright.  Extremely illuminating. Even on overcast days, we still had plenty of bright sunlight cast all over our kitchen via the SolaTube.

The only thing you really have to worry about is making sure the holes are sealed tight on your roof because – well, because you’re cutting a hole in your roof!  Think of the energy savings during sunlight hours!

Make Magazine had an article with some links, especially to the Extreme How To site for installing your own sunlight pipe device.  As long as you seal the heck out of the thing, there’s no reason why you couldn’t homebrew your own sunlight pipe system.  Take a moment also and check out one of the actual manufacturers of these sunlight pipe systems, SolaTube.  Ours was great.

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  1. Nice story.

    Are you aware, though, that “Solatube” is a registered trademark (see their dotcom), and that the images you show are not of the actual Solatube products? If someone sold you the product you show in these images under the name “Solatube”, I’d say you’ve been had.
    Happy to read that you’re satisfied with the results of the light, though.


  2. Skylights of all types are a great addition. I have one in a bathroom and am considering more.

    The great thing about light pipes is that they can be retrofit into most roof types without framing change$. Beware of heat gain in sunny climates. They aren’t so good in bedrooms without some type of cover/shade.

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