There’s no better way to bring more natural light into your home than with a skylight or solar tube. But is a traditional skylight or solar tube better for your home and your needs? While there are advantages and disadvantage of each type of daylighting system, choosing the right type for your home will depend on your specific requirements. Here we look at the pros and cons of both traditional skylights and solar tubes to help you identify which is the best choice for you.

Velux operable skylight is able to be opened for airflowTraditional Skylights

Traditional skylights consist of a window like opening that is installed in the roof. Like a window, a traditional skylight can be composed of a sheet of glass encased in a frame. This type of skylight may be able to be opened and closed as necessary, depending on the design. Sometimes they may need to be opened manually, which can be difficult. Traditional skylights provide a source of unfiltered daylight into your home. This means that temperature control problems such as heat gain and heat loss may be an issue.

Pros

The advantages of traditional skylights include that they can be opened and closed, and provide ventilation. The unfiltered source of sunlight from a traditional skylight may be preferred by some.

The advantages of traditional skylights include:

  • Provides a source of natural daylight
  • Can be opened and closed for ventilation
  • Allow a view of the sky outside
  • Provide natural daylight while preserving privacy.

Cons

The disadvantages of traditional skylights relate to their leak and damage prone design, and the unfiltered sunlight they allow into the home.

The disadvantages of traditional skylights include:

  • As a source of unfiltered sunlight, they can contribute to heat gain in the home, glare and eye strain, as well as fading of carpet or soft furnishings
  • The window like construction of a traditional skylight is an insulation weak spot, where loss of heating or cooling energy can occur
  • Traditional skylights are usually composed of many parts which can be prone to damage, breakage or leaks
  • Installation is more expensive requiring roof work, framing and repainting.

Solar TubesPhoto of a whole Solatube brand Solar Tube system

Solatubes provide a more innovative and modern approach to daylighting compared to traditional skylights. With a durable and impact resistant one piece design, they require almost no maintenance or repairs. Solar tubes maximize the amount of sunlight they collect while filtering out heat and glare, for a safer and more effective daylighting source. The Solatube construction keeps your home’s insulation intact and prevents heat loss as well as heat gain.

Pros

  • Provides a source of natural daylight.
  • Usually cheaper to purchase and install than traditional skylights for the same light output
  • Federal tax credits on some types of solar tubes
  • ‘Healthier’ source of daylight with no glare or heat gain.
  • Minimizes change in internal temperature by preserving insulation and preventing loss of heating or cooling energy.
  • Requires almost no maintenance and the one-piece impact proof deign is leak and damage proof.

Cons

  • Doesn’t allow a direct view of the sky.
  • Because of their sealed design solar tubes can’t be opened.

By carefully considering the benefits and drawbacks of both traditional skylights and solar tubes, you can choose the right daylighting system for your home and your needs.