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What Is A Sun Tunnel

What Is A Sun Tunnel? Sun Tunnels, Solar Tubes and Tubular Skylights

If you’ve been yearning for more natural light in your home, sun tunnels may be the answer. Also known as solar tubes or tubular skylights, sun tunnels are a cost-effective way to bring sunlight into spaces that traditional skylights can’t reach. Simply put, a sun tunnel is a tube that extends from your roof to your ceiling, diffusing natural light into the room below. This innovative product is especially popular in rooms that lack windows or where installing a regular skylight isn’t feasible.

What’s the difference between a solar tube and a sun tunnel?

You might have heard the terms “solar tube” and “sun tunnel” used interchangeably, but they are not exactly the same. A solar tube is typically a shorter, more straightforward structure that captures light through a small dome on the roof. On the other hand, a Velux sun tunnel is often more advanced, sometimes coming with additional features like a solar night light or even an integrated diffuser to spread the light more evenly. The primary function remains the same: to channel natural light from the roof into your home. However, a Velux sun tunnel may offer more in terms of features and quality.

Rigid Sun Tunnels vs. Flexible Sun Tunnels

When it comes to installing a sun tunnel, you have two primary options: rigid or flexible. Rigid sun tunnels are made of solid material and are ideal for straight paths from the roof to the ceiling. They offer brighter, more direct illumination. Flexible sun tunnels, however, use a flexible tube that can snake around obstacles, making them a great choice for more complex installations. However, the light they deliver might be slightly less vibrant. Your installer can help you determine which type is best suited for your specific needs.

Velux Sun Tunnels

Sun Tunnels vs. Skylights

Sun tunnels and traditional skylights both aim to increase the amount of natural light in your home, but they do so in different ways. Skylights are essentially windows installed in your roof, offering both light and a view of the sky. They’re a good option if you want to make a grand statement, but they do require a larger hole to be cut in your roof. Sun tunnels, on the other hand, require just a small cut, making the installation process quicker and less invasive. Additionally, sun tunnels are generally more cost-effective than traditional skylights and offer a more diffuse, even light spread.

Do Sun Tunnels Really Work?

You may wonder, “Do sun tunnels genuinely bring in enough light to make a difference?” The answer is a resounding yes. Sun tunnels effectively channel natural light from your roof into even the darkest corners of your home. Thanks to the diffuser at the end of the tunnel, light is spread evenly throughout the room. Some models even come with a solar night light that stores solar energy during the day and uses it to light the tunnel at night. That’s efficiency at its finest.

What Are the Drawbacks to Sun Tunnels?

While sun tunnels have numerous advantages, there are some downsides to consider. First, although the installation process is simpler than for a traditional skylight, it’s not a DIY project for everyone. You’ll need a professional installer to correctly cut a hole in your roof and install the tube. Second, while they’re an excellent source of natural light, sun tunnels don’t offer the aesthetic and architectural appeal that traditional skylights do. Finally, depending on your roof’s construction and the tunnel’s length, you may experience some light loss.

Why Are Sun Tunnels So Expensive?

You might be surprised to find out that sun tunnels can come with a hefty price tag. There’s a reason for that. High-quality models, especially those from well-known brands like Velux sun tunnels, often include features such as UV-resistant materials and advanced diffusers. These features aim to deliver a superior lighting experience. Additionally, if you’re aiming for federal tax credit eligibility, you’ll want to invest in an energy-efficient model, which can also drive up the cost. It’s a more significant initial investment, but the long-term benefits can be well worth it.

Velux TCR 014 Sun Tunnel Skylight

Are Sun Tunnels Cheaper Than Skylights?

At first glance, sun tunnels may seem pricey, but they are generally more cost-effective than traditional skylights. Velux skylights, for instance, often require more extensive construction work, which means hiring a professional installer for a longer period. This drives up the labor costs. Moreover, because traditional skylights require a larger cut in your roof, there may be more potential for heat loss or leaks. Sun tunnels require just a small cut, meaning the installation is quicker and typically less expensive.

Do Sun Tunnels Make the Room Hotter?

A common concern is whether installing a sun tunnel will make a room unbearably hot. The good news is that many high-quality sun tunnels come with UV-resistant coatings, which help in filtering out the heat while allowing natural light to pass through. Moreover, unlike traditional skylights, sun tunnels don’t open, reducing the chance of unwanted heat entering your space. The result is a comfortable, well-lit room without the added heat.

Do Sun Tunnels Need to Be Cleaned?

You might be wondering about maintenance. Do these sun tunnels get dirty or cloudy over time? Generally, sun tunnels are designed to be low-maintenance. The exterior dome is typically self-cleaning, courtesy of natural rainfall. However, the interior diffuser may require occasional dusting to maintain optimal light diffusion. To keep your sun tunnel skylight in peak condition, a quick clean every few months should suffice. Most homeowners find this to be a small trade-off for the consistent and beautiful natural light they bring into their homes.

Do Solar Tubes Add Value to a Home?

One of the key questions homeowners have is whether installing a sun tunnel will add value to their home. The answer leans towards yes. Sun tunnels not only enhance the natural light in your home but are also an energy-efficient upgrade. They can be a selling point for future buyers who value sustainability and energy savings. Plus, they can even qualify you for a federal tax credit, making them an even more cost-effective way to bring natural light into your home.

Velux Low Profile Sun Tunnel TGR 022

How Long Does It Take to Install a Sun Tunnel?

The installation time for a sun tunnel varies based on several factors, including the complexity of your roof and the type of sun tunnel you choose—rigid or flexible. However, most installations can be completed in a day by a professional installer. It’s a quick process, especially when compared to the time it takes to install traditional skylights. Just make sure to consult with an experienced installer to get an accurate estimate tailored to your specific needs.


Sun tunnels are an innovative, cost-effective way to channel natural light into spaces that traditional skylights or windows can’t reach. Whether you opt for a Velux sun tunnel or another high-quality brand, this addition to your home offers numerous advantages, from energy efficiency to improved lighting. While they require an upfront investment and professional installation, the long-term benefits—both aesthetic and practical—make them a worthy consideration for any homeowner seeking to enhance their living space with natural

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