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How to bring sunlight into a dark room

Posted by Tim Pullen on 28 October 2011 at 8:51 am

Q: Are solar tubes a good idea?

A: Solar tubes – also known as sun pipes, sun tunnels or light pipes – could also be called remote windows (but they are not). They are a way of bringing daylight to rooms or spaces with no natural lighting.

They consist of a light collector – essentially a clear plastic dome – on the roof, a highly polished metal tube and a glazed diffuser in the room. Light is allowed in at the dome, reflected down the tube and emitted into the room.

They work extremely well and are relatively inexpensive. Price will vary with the distance from the room to the roof but should be in the range of £300 to £500 – plus installation.

But, the room or space needing light ideally needs to have direct access to the roof. The metal pipe that reflects the light into the room is usually 250mm to 350mm diameter and it is difficult if it has to pass through another room to get to the roof. There are one or two that allow the collector to be mounted on a wall but these bring in far less light.

Velux do one with a flat collector (rather than domed) and use a flexible tube, rather than rigid, which has some advantages. But the rigid ones also allow bends. In broad terms the straighter the pipe the more light you get down it.

Installation can be tricky as it involves removing roof tiles and often getting to areas of the loft that are otherwise not visited. It is for the advanced DIY’er, shall we say, or a professional roofer.

If you have a room with no natural lighting these are a good idea. Google ‘sun pipes’ for a plethora of potential suppliers.

About the author: Tim Pullen is eco-editor for Homebuilding & Renovating magazine, author of Simply Sustainable Homes and founder of sustainable property consultancy WeatherWorks.

If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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1 comments - read them below or add one


IcarusComment left on: 23 November 2011 at 10:55 am

I am hugely disappointed that my South facing roof is so full of PV panels I can't use this idea. I found a video of a low tech alternative which I've posted on my website:

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