Could solar tubes help you harness a little green power?
These tubular solar skylights may be a great way for you to bring solar power into your living room (or bathroom, or kitchen).
How do they work?
Well, these sun-powered tubes are a lot like a traditional skylight but with none of the drawbacks (we'll get to those later).
They provide an innovative way to brighten up your home with natural light instead of using electricity to power a light bulb.
Solar skylight tubes are pretty simple and they consist of three main parts:
A collector dome
A highly polished tube
The collector dome is usually made of clear plastic. It sits on the roof and collects sunlight.
The collector dome is attached to a highly polished tube. This tube is usually about 12 to 14 inches in diameter and it reflects the captured sunlight from the dome to the diffuser.
The diffuser is usually made of frosted glass and it allows for the captured sunlight to provide even lighting for an entire room.
Sounds pretty great, doesn't it?
Solar tubes could be a way for you to kill two birds with one stone (figuratively speaking, of course).
These solar skylights will let you capture the natural light of the sun to light your home while also saving you money on your electric bill.
Why would you want natural sunlight?
Well, for one thing, you've probably been hearing more about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). One of the main causes of this depression-like disorder is thought to be a lack of natural sunlight.
(The idea is that our vitamin D levels get too low when we do not get enough Ultraviolet-B on our skin.)
A solar skylight allows you to capture more of the fleeting winter sun even if you remain indoors. This may help chase away those winter blues.
How can solar tubes lower your electric bill?
Well, in case you haven't figured this one out by now, a solar skylight lights your home with the natural light of the sun, thereby allowing you to avoid using artificial light (AKA 'lightbulbs').
Keeping your lights off all day will allow you to use less power and save money on your electric bill every month.
Solar skylights also have a few advantages over traditional skylights:
Due to their larger size, traditional skylights allow for more heating and cooling to escape from your home.
Easier on your furniture
The direct light of traditional skylights can fade upholstery over time.
Installation and drywall costs associated with traditional skylights can cause them to be much more expensive than solar tube lighting.
There are different options available if you are interested in installing solar lighting on your home. Some of the main companies include:
Now located in Vista, California, this company was started by an Australian inventor in the 1980's. They are an industry leader responsible for many technical advancements in daylighting.
On the Solatube website it says "Our products are not skylights. They are high-performance daylighting systems that use advanced optics to significantly improve the way daylight is harnessed." Alrighty then!
This Florida company has a range of residential and commercial solar skylights.
So, even if you're not quite ready for a full solar electric system, solar tubes might be a great way to get started with solar power.