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The desire to conserve electricity and protect our natural environment has spawned countless innovations in eco-friendly home lighting. But the future isn’t low-energy LED bulbs or fluorescent lights — it’s the Solatube skylight. Our solar lighting uses cutting-edge technology to harness, redirect, and amplify the power of natural light to brighten up the darkest places in your home in any season.
While it may sound impossible, we’ve been perfecting this revolutionary technology for more than 30 years. Thousands of homeowners and businesses across the world have installed our patented daylighting systems and are reaping the benefits of reliable, energy-efficient natural lighting, In this guide, we’ll take you on a tour of some of the high-tech features of our systems and tell you what they can do for you and your family.
Humans have been using the sun to light up indoor spaces for thousands of years. The Ancient Egyptians incorporated atriums and other forms of passive daylighting into their architecture. They also used solar tubes to light their temples and tombs. In the 19th century, before the advent of electric light, Paul Emil Chappuis patented a kind of tubular lighting system that used reflectors to channel light into dark buildings that would normally require gaslights.
Chappuis’ invention was a crude forerunner of the modern-day solar tube, which made its first appearance in the early 1990s. Since then, daylighting technology has been refined and updated through three decades of innovation. Today’s solar tubes are capable of delivering reliable natural lighting to meet the needs of homeowners in the 21st century and beyond.
You may be skeptical that a daylighting system could generate light that’s every bit as clear and bright as electrical lighting, but a Solatube is no ordinary skylight. The principles are the same as Chappuis’ 1850 invention or the tubes used in Ancient Egypt. A dome captures the light from natural sources, then redirects it down a tube into your home. But the difference is the advanced technology that allows the tube to maximize the amount of light in every room.
To help you get a better understanding of exactly how our daylighting system works, we’ll break it down for you, explaining the technology inside every piece.
The sunlight’s first stop on its way into your home is a dome installed on the top of your roof. Our daylighting system harvests sunlight using two proprietary technologies: The Raybender 3000 dome and the LightTracker reflector. These two technologies work hand in hand to make sure the device captures and transmits the optimum amount of sunlight at all hours of the day in every season.
It’s called the Raybender because it’s designed to bend and redirect low-angle rays of sunlight in the morning and evening to maximize capture. When the sun is high, it will reject excess heat and light to keep your home cool. The LightTracker enables your system to adapt to conditions in the winter months by redirecting low-angle sunlight. By channeling the low-angle rays, it increases the light input, so that there is sufficient output on the other end all year round.
A tubular daylighting system works like a relay race. After the sunlight hits the dome and the reflector, the baton is passed to the tubing, which is coated in the world’s most reflective material. Our patented Spectralight Infinity Tubing has achieved 99.7 percent specular reflectivity in laboratory tests, which means less than 1 percent of the captured sunlight gets lost on its trip into your home’s interior. This is absolutely crucial in wintertime when sunlight is scarce.
A key attribute that makes Spectralight Infinity Tubing so effective is its Light Transfer Efficiency (LTE). Spectralight tubing is capable of transferring light across long distances with very little loss of light. This helps the daylighting system deliver consistent light across seasons and enables you to install skylights on lower floors, with a maximum run length of 30 feet. It also has high Color Temperature Maintenance, allowing it to transmit colors in all their natural brilliance.
As the light passes through, some of it bounces off the wall of the tube and is captured by a built-in photovoltaic panel. This solar module stores energy generated by sunlight throughout the entire day.
The module powers our NightLight and SmartLED systems. The SmartLED is triggered automatically by our proprietary SunSense Technology, which monitors the daylight levels and detects when there is insufficient light. Combining daylighting with SmartLEDs can reduce your energy costs by up to 94 percent. For more energy savings, you can also install an occupancy sensor, so the LED light doesn’t come on when no one is around.
Finally, when the light comes out at the other end of the tube, it’s refracted through a fixture made of a special material that has been customized to diffuse and evenly distribute the light throughout the room. Standard diffusers transmit the natural light faithfully, but there are also fixtures available that are engineered to create certain effects, such as warming, softening, or both.
Optional add-ons can enhance the functionality of your diffuser fixture. If you’re installing a solar light in an area with high humidity, like a laundry room or a bathroom, ventilation is an essential way to prevent potential damage to your system caused by condensation. You can also add a dimmer, which allows you to control the amount of light with a wall-mounted switch.
At Solatube, we’ve taken an idea that’s been around for millennia and brought it to new heights in the 21st century. Utilizing industry-leading technology, our daylighting system delivers brilliant natural light for homeowners while cutting energy costs and protecting the environment. For more information about installing one of these systems in your home, call Solatube today at (888) 765-2882.