A tubular skylight is a device that captures light from the roof of a building, and then channels that light through specially designed tubes to into a room somewhere below. The tube can be straight, curved, or jointed. The benefits of tubular skylights include both financial and health benefits, as well as a certain level of convenience.
The tubular skylight begins with a glass dome installed in the roof. The dome is usually no bigger than 12 inches (30.5 cm) in diameter, but is specifically designed to collect as much light as possible. Thus, even a small dome can provide a great deal of light, even on cloudy days. In some cases, it may completely replace the need for artificial daytime lighting in the room.
The manufacturers of tubular skylight systems say the energy benefits gained from them are significant. With only a small dome of glass, and the tube being sealed and insulated, outside air intrusion is minimized. Further, most manufacturers also include a light diffuser with tubular skylights, with the potential to light a much greater area than some traditional products may provide.
In addition, the tubular skylight, once installed, uses no electricity. Therefore, some may experience a significant energy savings as free, natural sunlight is used more than artificial lighting. This also helps account for the skylight's environmental benefits, as there are no fossil fuels, or other types of non-renewable fuels, used to produce the light.
The health benefits from tubular skylights come from the natural lighting. Such lighting eases eye strain, and produces more natural colors. Additionally, natural light is the preferred therapy for those dealing with seasonal affective disorder.
Some large buildings, especially those with larger rooms, may find one tubular skylight does not provide sufficient light. Therefore, owners may install multiple skylights in order to meet the lighting demand. Some even install light sensors around the building, and connect the artificial lighting to a dimmer. This will automatically dim and brighten the artificial lighting, based on the current sunlight conditions. Such systems are available for home use as well, but many homeowners may find them too costly to consider.
Those interested in a tubular skylight should carefully look at their home to determine the best usage. A tubular skylight works best when installed on the side of the home that receives the most most direct sunlight throughout the year. For example, if there are shade trees blocking the sun in the morning, the best location for a skylight would be on the opposite side of the home. A professional installer can help determine the best placement for the system.