Author Topic: Totally Tubular  (Read 3230 times)

iamsoners

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Totally Tubular
« on: April 04, 2013, 02:49:45 PM »
Anyone have Solar Tube skylights? Our new house is north facing, which is great for the garden but not so much for the living room.  The roof's getting replaced so it seems like a good time to add a couple of tubular skylights. Any experience? Brand preferences?

superspeck

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2013, 03:43:05 PM »
Aunt had them in her bathrooms. I personally think they're great except that you have to make sure you maintain them, although they may be lower maintenance than they were in 1992. They're plastic, which means that they'll eventually discolor and yellow. I'd probably wash the outside one and put some form of UV protectant on them annually when you clean your gutters to make them last longer.

HumanAfterAll

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #2 on: April 04, 2013, 03:46:02 PM »
We have one in our bathroom, it's awesome!

meadow lark

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2013, 03:08:02 AM »
Love mine.  However, when they were originally installed they used the wrong caulk, and they leaked within a year. Better caulk, no leaks.  But obviously an ongoing maintenance issue.

Vilx-

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2013, 03:36:39 AM »
This is the first I've heard of them so I'm a bit curious - how much does it cost, and how long will it take to become more cost-efficient than a standard CFL lamp?

babysteps

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2013, 03:04:58 PM »
Last summer we put 4 in a large (16'x23' or so) under-eave room that had small west-facing window, so was bright only on sunny days between 3pm & 5pm or so...

We bought the brand that Lowes carries (Velux, I think) - they are less spendy than the Solar Tubes but don't have as many permutations.  We also got the light kits, as this very large room had no pre-existing light fixtures (must have used lamps).  I think the basic unit comes with the 'lenses' included (the plastic shields that make the unit look like a light fixture whether you have the light kit or not).  We also got the extension tubes - if you get multiple units, measure and cut carefully, we only needed the material from 3 extensions to reach for all 4 of our units.

We are very happy with the tubes.  They are designed for retrofits and fit between existing ceiling joists and roof rafters (if those are the right terms for the structural wood lurking in your attic).  On bright days or really dim days the light is pretty even from all 4 tubes.  On medium-overcast days you can tell the difference between the 2 tubes on the south side of the roof ridge (bright) and the 2 on the north side (not as bright).  We have noticed no particular draft or leak issues, although they are in place less than a year so stay tuned for someone with an older install to report.

If you do get a light kit you will want to be aware of the light switch when you leave the room, it is very easy to turn the lights on, have the sun come out, not realize the lights are on and leave them on when you leave the room.  When the sun is shining you can barely tell if the lights are on or not.

superspeck

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2013, 07:52:58 PM »
This is the first I've heard of them so I'm a bit curious - how much does it cost, and how long will it take to become more cost-efficient than a standard CFL lamp?
It's not so much for the sake of lighting but for natural light. Non-natural light has all kinds of problems (especially for people who are prone to seasonal depression) if it's used all the time. For someone like me, having natural light in a room that I'm in frequently makes a night-and-day difference in how I feel.

iamsoners

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2013, 12:20:25 PM »
Thanks for all the feedback and plus one to anything that helps with seasonal depression!  I think we're going to go ahead and instiall the US Sunlight Solar chroma in the living room and possibly look for a light that vents for the bathroom.  I'll update with pictures once it's done!

Hotstreak

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Re: Totally Tubular
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2013, 01:12:10 PM »
Some relatives of mine installed several units a few years ago.  One in a windowless bathroom, and one next to a laundry nook that's not around any windows.  The bathroom tube is across the street from a major streetlight, and I find that even on a cloudy night enough light gets in there for a midnight pit-stop without turning the light on.  It's great to not get jolted awake by a full strength light!  The one by the laundry means they almost never turn on the hallway lights anymore.  I'm not sure how cost efficient they are, as they cost over a thousand dollars in total, but they are extremely convenient (no flipping switches, not walking through areas of drastically different lighting throughout the home, being able to "check the weather" even though being away from a window). 

I have a friend who installed these for a few years.. from what he told me it's a pretty basic procedure and doesn't cost a lot.  Essentially they drill a hole, drop the thing in, and seal it up.