Frequently Asked Questions

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Will a Solatube Daylighting System work in hot climates like Arizona?

Yes, Solatube® Daylighting Systems work especially well in hot climates. Solatube Smart LED™ Systems as well as the Solatube Daylighting System 160 DSe and Solatube 290 DSe are ENERGY STAR® rated in all regions across North America because they allow minimal heat transfer. The Solatube Daylighting System 160 DS and 290 DS models are also ENERGY STAR rated, but only in certain regions. For specific details, see the ENERGY STAR / NFRC Certification document in the Technical Resources section of our web site under Product Codes and Approvals.

Solatube Spectralight® Infinity Tubing, which is featured in all our products, transmits the visible spectrum of light (400 to 760 nanometers), but provides significant blockage of infrared wavelengths greater than 900 nm, which is the main culprit in solar heat gain.

Additionally, the dome ring in the Solatube 160 DS, Solatube 290 DS, and Solatube Smart LED Systems acts as a thermal break between the flashing and tubing to prevent external heat from entering an interior space. In the Solatube SolaMaster® Series, the tube ring performs this same function. In the Solatube SkyVault® Series, R-6 rigid insulation that comes pre-installed in the curb cap roof assembly prevents heat transfer. All of our other curb-mounted units have the option of adding the Curb Cap Insulation Kit for maximum heat transfer prevention.

Also, the Raybender® 3000 Technology featured in many of our products helps to reject overwhelming light and heat when the sun’s rays are most intense.

The Solatube Brighten Up®, Smart LED, SolaMaster 750 DS and the SkyVault M74 DS also offer inner dome options that improve thermal performance by creating a dual dome system.

These technologies allow Solatube Daylighting Systems to provide the highest light output performance with minimal thermal impact.

Will I save energy with a Solatube Daylighting System or Solatube Smart LED System?

Yes, the Solatube® Daylighting System operates during the day, so you can reduce your electrical energy use by turning off your lights. The Solatube Smart LED™ System takes this one step further by utilizing SunSense™ Technology to automatically trigger energy efficient LEDs when daylight is insufficient.

For commercial applications, we recommend lighting controls that incorporate a daylight harvesting sensor to ensure the electric lights automatically turn off when sufficient daylight is available in the space.

Select Solatube Daylighting Systems have also earned the prestigious ENERGY STAR® rating for their ability to minimize heat loss in extremely cold climates and heat gain in extremely warm ones, giving you the ultimate in thermal performance. Solatube Daylighting Systems will produce significantly less heat than equivalent electric lights, thereby decreasing the demand on your air conditioning units.

Can a Solatube Daylighting System store light for use at night?

No, the Solatube® Daylighting System only transfers the available sunlight that enters through the dome during the day. However, the optional Solatube Light Add-On Kit may be installed so that the Solatube Daylighting System can be used as a standard lighting fixture at night that operates using a standard wall switch. Available only with the Solatube Daylighting Systems 160 DS or 290 DS.

The Solatube Smart LED™ System is an alternate option that delivers day and night lighting without the need for a Light Add-On Kit. It uses SunSense™ Technology that combines daylighting with LED technology to seamlessly transition from daylight to night lighting or to supplement at times when sunlight is insufficient. The optional Occupancy Sensor makes the system even more energy efficient by preventing the LEDs from turning on unless an underlit area is occupied.

What happens on a cloudy day?
Solatube® Daylighting Systems maximize the amount of daylight available for lighting your interior, regardless of sky conditions. Our proprietary Raybender® 3000 and LightTracker™ Technologies in our domes combined with our Spectralight® Infinity Tubing transfer the maximum amount of daylight from the rooftop down into the interior with minimal light loss, even on cloudy days. Keep in mind your light output is always relative to your light input. There will be a noticeable difference in light intensity between a clear, sunny day and a heavily overcast day. Our diffusers and Decorative Fixtures keep a consistent diffusion pattern, regardless of light intensity.
Will a Solatube Daylighting System work in cold climates and northern latitudes?
Our products feature dome optics that help collect low-angle sunlight, which is extremely important in northern latitudes. As a result, Solatube® Daylighting Systems have performed successfully in cold weather climates like the Northern U.S.A., Canada, and Northern Europe for more than 20 years.
Will a Solatube Daylighting System work when installed on the north side of a roof?

A Solatube® Daylighting System works well on the north side of a roof. However, it performs even better when exposed to direct sunlight. For the best results, position the system where it will receive the most direct south-facing sunlight possible. To catch more direct rays, a turret extension can also be added to raise the dome height above the roof peak if on the north side of the roof.

The reverse is true in the southern hemisphere. There, a north-facing position is ideal.

How does a Solatube Daylighting System compare to a traditional skylight?

Traditional skylights have their place as do tubular daylighting devices (TDDs). There are a few key benefits of the Solatube® Daylighting System, however, that allow our TDDs to perform better than skylights. Some of these include:

  • flexible location options
  • low-cost installation
  • optimal thermal performance
  • optical enhancement devices
  • no structural changes
  • consistent and visually comfortable daylighting
  • easy customization with modular components

For more details, read “The Skylight Alternative” article in the residential Info Center of our website.

What happens if the dome gets covered with snow?

When just the roof is covered with snow, it may actually increase light output as the white snow makes the roof more reflective. When the dome itself is covered with snow, light output will be reduced but the dome will continue to perform. Tests have indicated that all Solatube® Daylighting System models can resist positive snow loads up to 150 pounds per square foot. For more information and to review the CCRR test report, click here.

What if the light is too bright or bluish?

Solatube® Daylighting Systems are designed to control the intensity of daylight by rejecting overwhelming midday sun and reducing glare. They also reflect the true color temperature of the sky conditions outside.

For residential applications

We offer an array of Solatube Effect Lenses to adjust the light intensity and color. For homeowners who prefer less light intensity, the Softening Effect Lens creates a softer, glowing effect. The optional Solatube Daylight Dimmer can also be installed for easy adjustment of room light levels at the touch of a button. 
The Warm Effect Lens enhances natural daylight by “warming” it, creating a yellowish color similar to incandescent bulbs. Important: Never use standard window tinting or any flammable material to block the incoming light. This is a potential fire hazard.

To adjust both the light intensity and color, the Warm and Softening Effect Lenses may be used together to produce a glowing effect that mimics the color of incandescent lights. 


For commercial applications

In our commercial line, we offer a secondary diffuser for the Solatube SolaMaster® Series that fits under the dome to soften the light. Our Solatube SolaMaster Series 330 DS dome maximizes midday sun while our Solatube SolaMaster Series 750 DS dome delivers consistent light output throughout the day. If using the Solatube Brighten Up® Series or Solatube Smart LED™ System, Effect Lenses may be used as described above.

What is the approximate light coverage of a Solatube Daylighting System?

For Residential applications

The light coverage area varies among our Solatube® Daylighting System models. Keep in mind different light levels are required for different tasks. As a result, the approximate coverage areas are shown below for ambient light levels. 

  • Solatube  Daylighting System 160 DS (10 in. / 250 mm) up to 200 sq. ft (19 sq. m)
  • Solatube  Daylighting System 290 DS (14 in. / 350 mm) up to 300 sq. ft (28 sq. m)
  • Solatube Smart LED™ System* (10 in. / 250 mm) - up to 250 sq. ft (23 sq. m) 

These estimated lighting areas are based upon an average 6 ft (1.82 m) tube length and 8 ft (2.4 m) ceiling height with the dome in direct sunlight.

Light output will vary depending on the intensity of the sun. For example, there will be more natural daylight at midday than in the early morning or evening. Light output may also decrease as the tube length increases beyond the recommended distances.

*applies only to daylighting portion of the system

 

For Commercial applications

Please consult a Solatube Commercial Representative as acceptable illuminated areas will vary greatly due to ceiling heights and space uses. Our commercial experts are well-versed in application-specific Solatube design and light analysis for both new and retrofit projects.