Who wouldn’t love a room filled with beautiful natural light from above? If the room you want to light, however, is on the ground floor – or below an attic – you may think installing a skylight is impossible. Think again.
Tubular skylights are an inexpensive, energy-efficient way to bring passive natural light (light without the heat emitted by electrical sources) into your home – even in rooms where you might not be able to put a traditional skylight. They are “small, roof-mounted marvels,” says Sandra Tuell, an accredited real estate-enhancement professional. “They offer exceptional light output and cost efficiency, are eco-friendly and easy to install, and are both attractive inside and unobtrusive outside.”
The health benefits of natural light are well-documented. And skylights are a cost-effective, eco-friendly way to supplement your home’s lighting and enhance your enjoyment of your indoor environment. Skylights are also a great way to bring natural light into rooms where windows may not be possible, like an interior bathroom, laundry room or closet.
To bring light into first-floor rooms, or rooms below an attic, tubular skylights rely on weatherproof domes placed on the roof of the home. “Light travels into the home through highly reflective rigid or flexible tubing, which makes it easy to bypass obstructions in the attic, ending at a diffuser in the ceiling that looks like a traditional in-ceiling light fixture,” says Tim Johnson of Velux America, makers of Energy Star-qualified Sun Tunnel skylights.
And while single tubular skylights are often used to bring natural light into smaller spaces including closets, windowless baths, laundry rooms and hallways, they are increasingly used in more expansive spaces in the home with multiple tubes grouped to provide balanced lighting and reduce energy costs.
In many cases, they are less expensive than traditional skylights, starting at about $200. Some “super efficient” models meet the federal government’s energy efficiency criteria, qualifying them for federal tax credits of up to 30 percent of the purchase and installation cost.
“In most cases, the installation process is very straight-forward,” Johnson says, “with many components pre-assembled right out of the box so a handy homeowner can handle the installation in two to three hours if a professional installation is not preferred.”
You can find a tubular skylight size to fit virtually any need or room – from 10 to 21 inches in diameter. There are even models designed for hurricane-prone areas. You can buy tubular skylight kits at home improvement stores, building supply dealers and specialty retail outlets, with optional light kits available to install inside the tunnel for nighttime use.