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5:52 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

Ask the Contractor: Consider solar tube lighting alternative

Q: We want to add additional light into one of our rooms and we are confused on whether to add a skylight or a tubular light. What do you recommend?

Lou and Patty, Prescott.

A: There is a daylight system that brings natural light to a room and that is the Solatube. This is a high-performance tubular system that delivers light to interior rooms of your home. This system is engineered to efficiently capture the sun’s rays and delivers them to your home through a pipe. Installation can usually be done in three hours or less without any structural changes to your home – easy breezy as I say.

Solatubes are cost-effective and energy efficient and are a wonderful solution to lighting problems in rooms without natural light such as closets, bathrooms, corridors and offices. Solatube lighting eliminates the need for electricity to light these areas and/or rooms.

From sunup to sundown, these devices capture daylight and then transfer it through a highly reflective tube that then disperses the sunlight throughout the space. The solar tube is unlike skylights and/or windows because a permit is not required for installation, there is no reframing needed in the truss system and there are no attic obstruction issues since the system has various angle adapters that make extensions so it can be maneuvered around rafters and attic joists without problems. There are no drywall repairs or painting so you could say there is very little and nominal mess.

Solatubes can be installed on most any type of roof and are leak-proof. They have a seamless one-piece design and their circular rooftop dome does not allow for any rain infiltration. There is no glare with Solatubes and the infrared rays are screened so there is no fading of fabric and furniture.

Studies have shown that people are more productive when exposed to natural light, have a better sense of well-being and are more positive so hurray to the Solatube. More natural light, leak proof, quick easy installation, no structural changes, reduced energy cost. We should all have more beautiful daylight in our homes.

A solar tube is a 10- or 14-inch-diameter sheet-metal tube with a polished interior. The interior acts like a continuous mirror, channeling light along its entire length while preserving the light’s intensity. It captures daylight at the roof and delivers it inside your home.

A 10-inch tube is approximately the equivalent of three 100-watt bulbs, enough to illuminate up to 200 square feet of floor area; 14-inch tubes can brighten as much as 300 square feet. Some popular locations for a light tube include any areas where constant indirect light is handy such as hallways, stairways, walk-in closets, kitchens, baths and laundry rooms

Because installation of a solar tube does not require any framing alterations, there are few limitations to where you can locate a light tube. Check the attic space above to see if there is room for a straight run. If you find an obstruction, elbows or flexible tubing can be used to direct the lighting to the area.

If you want the effect of a “window” in your ceiling then the conventional straight forward skylight is the way to go. If you elect to go with the skylight, be cautious and do not install and overly large element because they not only let light in but heat as well. With the skylight option you will have to decide on whether or not to install energy-efficient glass, motorized vent or adding a shade screen option. Conventional skylights are more difficult to install because installation requires cutting through the roof/ceiling, working around the truss system and then adding interior framing and drywall finishing.

Arizona Window Wizard installs Solatubes here in town. The owner is Pete and he is very knowledgeable on this daylighting system. Pete can be reached at 928-775-8964.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time aired twice each weekend Saturday and Sunday morning 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM/99.9 FM and 95.5 FM or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners. A wildly fun local show.

Also, additional Radon testing kits have arrived. Please call Sandy at 928-778-0040 if you would like one – they are FREE.