Skylights: Tubular Skylight – Solatube
Natural light, it’s essential for all living things. Unfortunately, since the beginning of time, dwellings have caused natural light to be limited. Whether it be a cave, a hut, a teepee, castle or simply a modern home, the fundamental construction of each, by nature, limits natural light.
As an example, many of us live in homes that contain one or more halls situated within the central part of the home which prohibit the installation of a window. This condition can also be true with a bathroom not located at an exterior wall. Therefore, these spaces are dark, difficult to navigate (imposing safety hazards), and require artificial lighting which uses precious energy. Furthermore, in the case of a bathroom, the dark and damp environment serves as an optimal breeding ground for mildew, fungus and other unpleasant elements.
There are other benefits too. Aside from safety, energy conservation and housekeeping, one of the least known, but most important, benefits of natural light is the positive effects that it has on the emotional state of the occupants of a home. Clinical studies have demonstrated that abundant natural light can lift spirits and can even serve as a means of combating depression. While it is true that windows and fenestrations can significantly improve conditions and, hence, this problem, it still doesn’t solve the dilemma stated above–what to do with space where no window can be installed.
You got it! Install a skylight. It’s a great way of bringing natural light into a space that would otherwise have none. What’s more, major industry trade associations such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry rank the installation of a skylight as one of the most cost-effective improvements a home owner can make.
Even though skylights have been around for decades they are still considered a novelty by many. Additionally, many consumers are wary of skylights. Among the most prevalent concerns are leaks, condensation, heat gain, disruption and, last but not least, cost. Although a high-quality skylight properly installed is not likely to leak, the other issues expressed are legitimate concerns. A careful shopper can avoid many of these potential problems.
Unfortunately, cost and disruption are two major factors that prevent many homeowners from enjoying the natural light that a skylight can offer. There are several factors that determine the installed cost of a skylight: roof and ceiling configuration, size of the unit, interior finish material and roofing material to name a few. Typically the installed cost of an average skylight will range between fifteen hundred and three thousand dollars. And, depending upon the factors listed above, it can take one two weeks to complete.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there is new, state-of-the-art technology that addresses most consumer concerns and makes a skylight something that virtually everyone can have. It’s a tubular skylight called Solatube. It’s construction is simple. It consists of a clear acrylic dome, a patented reflector to capture the maximum amount of natural light which is sent through a highly-polished mirror-like tube which can be either ten or sixteen inches in diameter. The tube terminates at the ceiling where a decorative diffuser is installed. The diffuser resembles the lens and trim of a recess light fixture. And, because the Solatube is hermetically sealed there is no condensation to be concerned with and there is minimal heat transfer.
There are several advantages to the Solatube system. The two most distinct advantages are its ease of installation and the cost savings. In contrast to conventional skylights, Solatube can be installed between existing roof rafters and ceiling joist thereby eliminating the need for framing alterations which account for a major portion of the cost of a skylight installation. The Solatube also eliminates the need to perform drywall work, insulation, roofing, flashing and painting. The dome comes with its own integral flashing system which is slipped into the existing roofing after a hole has been cut through the roofing material and sheathing. There are several flashing styles to correspond to various types of roofing material.
Due to the ease of installation, the product can be installed, on average, in a couple of hours by a professional or in less than a day by a do-it-yourselfer. Consequently, the cost of the installed product is significantly less than that of a conventional skylight. A professionally installed Solatube ranges between three hundred fifty and five hundred dollars. The unit runs in the neighborhood of three hundred dollars.
Just when we thought we had seen everything, Solatube also has a vented model. The skylight isn’t vented, it comes with a stand-alone ventilation kit while is designed for installation in damp areas such as bathrooms and laundry areas. With the vented model, the ventilation grille is integrated into the decorative diffuser for a neat clean looking installation. The two hundred cubic foot per minute (cfm) exhaust fan removes damp, stale air via an independent duct and roof jack. The exhaust fan is unusually quiet since the fan is located at the underside of the roof rather than at ceiling level.
An optional light kit makes the Solatube a real winner. An energy efficient compact fluorescent light fixture can be installed to allow the system to artificially light a space at night. It’s a skylight, vent fan and light fixture all wrapped into one. For more information contact Solatube at 1-800-773-7652.
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