See this real life sun tunnel comparison between a dome and a flat glass collector, and rigid versus flexi tube

I was recently asked to replace 2 flexi tube, flat-glass-collector sun tunnel systems that a customer had inherited when they moved in to their bungalow.

They were both installed in her kitchen and she was incredibly disappointed in the lack of light they delivered.  Essentially, her kitchen was still far too dark, even with 2 systems installed.  The customer had already completed some of her own research and recognised that a Solatube system with rigid tubing and a dome would deliver far more light and hence she wanted both systems replaced.

Make sure your installer knows what they are doing

Having undertaken a survey I proposed an alternative, phased approach that would save her money, whilst also ensuring she had more light. Not only were the systems not delivering very much light, they had also been installed in the wrong ceiling positions and were poorly aligned in the roof space making tube angles too extreme.  This is something I often come across – installations made by inexperienced fitters who do not fully understand how, or where, a tubular daylight system should be installed.

Cost saving solution

So, instead of the cost of replacing 2 systems I proposed initially installing a single 350mm dia Solatube 290DS, in-between the two, same size sun tunnel systems. This alone would deliver much more light than the combined effects of the 2 flexi tube flat glass systems and be a cheaper option for her.

Seeing the light

The result was massively convincing with light pouring in through the Solatube system and flooding the kitchen with bright daylight, whilst the 2 flexi tube flat glass systems remained dull and ineffective.

At this stage the customer felt that the 2 dull systems looked rather odd and asked if I would still replace them.  However, in order to save her money I suggested that instead we replace the flexible tubing with rigid tubing to help increase the light levels and so balance out the effect in the kitchen – a far cheaper option.

Rigid tubing 4 times brighter than flexi tube!

On completing the tube replacements, sure enough the 2 dull systems were now much brighter and, according to my light meter readings, around 4 times brighter than with the flexible tubing.  That just goes to show the sort of difference highly reflective tube material makes!

However, it also gave me an opportunity to compare the difference that a dome makes compared to a flat glass collector, as all systems now had the same, highly reflective rigid tubing.

Dome delivered 62% more light than the flat glass collector

It’s worth noting that all systems are installed close together on the same, north facing, but shallow pitched roof.  When I took light meter readings the Solatube with the dome was delivering 62% more light than the flat glass collector – that’s an enormous difference in the amount of light you get by using a Solatube system with a dome.

In the pictures above, you can see the 2 flat glass collectors to the right of the picture with a single Solatube dome in-between them – these were all in the kitchen.  The other 2 Solatube domes further to the left were installed subsequently in the entrance hall and corridor, once the customer had seen how incredibly bright the Solatube systems were.

Sometimes just seeing the difference beats technical explanations!

So, whilst none of the above is entirely ‘scientific’, it’s actually a genuine ‘real world’ demonstration that shows just what the differences are, regardless of the often dubious technical research claims by manufacturers.  OK, you have to take my word for the readings I took from my light meter, but I think that even from the picture of the kitchen you can see that the nearer Solatube is much brighter than the other system, even though the picture tends to flatten out the more noticeable difference you can see in real life.

So, when you are considering a tubular sun tunnel system, first of all think:

‘Highly reflective rigid tubing, not flexible tubing’

And secondly think

‘Dome not flat glass collector’.

Replace flexi tubing with Solatube rigid tubing

And if you are suffering with poor light from an existing system with flexible tubing, why not ask us to replace it with rigid tubing and gain 4 times more daylight!

If you are interested in bringing natural light into your home, why not give us a call at Solatube Southwest to find out whether a Solatube sun pipe can help you.  Typically, a fully installed system might cost anywhere between £900 – £1,200; that’s supplied, professionally installed and includes the VAT.

Call 07989 976 010