Skylights make an excellent addition to any home, naturally brightening dark homes with sunlight and providing an energy free source of illumination. But which is the best skylight option for your home? Some of the most popular options are traditional skylights, Velux skylights, and Solatube tube skylights. Here we compare these options for lighting results, cost effectiveness, energy efficiency and maintenance, to discover which skylight gives the greatest value and best lighting result.

Velux operable skylight is able to be opened for airflowTraditional Skylights

Traditional skylights have been the classic skylight choice, consisting of a regular pane of framed glass fixed on the roof. Traditional skylights allow a direct view of the sky above from inside your home, but they also allow direct access for heat gain from the sun or heat loss through the thin glass and frame. This aspect of traditional skylights greatly reduces their energy efficiency.
Traditional skylights can also be tricky to maintain, requiring roof access to clean and being more susceptible to leaks and impact damage. Traditional skylights are also not cheap to install, ranging from $1000 for a basic installation up to $5000 for a vented skylight.

Velux Skylights

Velux solar tubes offer a more energy efficient version of the traditional skylight. Velux skylights are vented, allowing hot air to rise and escape from sunlit rooms. However, the Velux skylight is unable to counteract radiant heat transfer, and the benefits of venting are lost if the skylight is closed to conserve air conditioned climate control.

An alternate model – the Velux sun tunnel – uses a tube skylight design to counteract this effect.
Sun tunnels are more energy and cost efficient, and easier to install and clean. However, the low profile of the Velux sun tunnel leaves it susceptible to build up of leaves, branches or snow on the roof. This means that more maintenance and cleaning may be required. Velux skylights and sun tunnels can still be quite costly to install, with some of the vented skylights costing up to $5000 to buy and install.

SolatubesContractor working on a Solatube brand solar tube.

Solatube skylights achieve the greatest results in natural daylighting power, energy efficiency and cost effectiveness. A Solatube tube skylight can cost as little as $300 and can be installed in less than an hour by a professional. Professional Solatube installation is efficient and cost effective, and a number of additions and accessories can be added according to your needs. With a specular reflectivity of 99.7%, no sunlight is lost in the Solatube. The Solatubes unique rooftop light collection dome and one piece construction means it’s incredibly durable and impact resistant, requiring little to no maintenance. Because Solatube tube skylights don’t interfere with your home’s existing insulation, and the tube skylight opening is minimal, heat loss and gain is reduced. This makes the Solatube sun tube more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The right skylight choice for you depends on your skylight needs, your taste in design and what you are willing to invest. By talking to a skylight expert, you can find the best skylight solution for your home.