Traditional Skylight vs Tubular Skylight

Traditional Skylight vs Tubular Skylight

March 9, 2023

You may be asking yourself when to install a traditional skylight versus a tubular skylight. Let’s compare the two and their benefits.

Most often you're going to install a TRADITIONAL SKYLIGHT when you're looking for a statement piece for a room to really draw in natural light and brighten a space. Or, you may not have a window in a certain room and would like to see outside or open the skylight for ventilation. Being able to see the sky, whether it’s the bright sunshine or a star-filled night, makes a huge difference in a space and the ambiance, and natural light makes rooms more inviting and enjoyable.

There are several benefits of a traditional, flat glass skylight. Let’s review some of them, and later on we will discuss differences and benefits of tubular skylights. At Guild Collective we use VELUX skylights and will be highlighting the line’s particular features in this article.

1. A slim side profile. The design of a flat skylight allows it to easily align with your roof, providing a seamless flow and a more modern look to a home or business. 

2. A glass skylight has a near perfect transparency rating and won’t fade or yellow.

3. Glass is energy efficient. Skylights can be completely sealed and are therefore effective at keeping the heat in during the winter, and keeping the heat out during the summer. When the temperature is hot outside, a flat glass skylight with LowE3 protection can reduce heat gain in your home by 65%. On the contrary, when you’re trying to warm your home in cooler months, the argon gas between the double-paned glass keeps your home well insulated and helps retain heat.

4. Because glass skylights are well insulated, they reduce unwanted noise outside.

5. A flat glass skylight has a long life expectancy and requires little maintenance. A VELUX flat glass skylight has a 10-year hail and 10-year no leak warranty. VELUX skylights also come with a Neat® glass coating, which disperses water evenly, removing dirt quickly and reducing water spots to keep your skylight clean longer and ensure greater usability.

6. There are many accessories available with a flat glass skylight. For example, there are three types of blinds: light-filtering shades, blackout and room-darkening shades, and Venetian shades. Light-filtering shades and room-darkening shades are available in both solar-powered and manual styles. With over 100 colors and pattern choices available, you can design your unique space. VELUX skylights are fitted with preinstalled brackets for easy installation and a seamless fit. 

Install a climate control and monitoring system that pairs with your smartphone to create a healthier indoor environment. Whether you’re home or away, smart sensors continuously monitor the temperature, humidity and CO2 levels in your home, and can open or close your skylights and blinds. 

A plus, these accessories will qualify the installation for a 26% tax credit, which is a unique benefit. 

Which flat glass skylight model is best for you? Let’s review four different VELUX models.

1. With Solar Powered "Fresh Air" Skylights, a small exterior solar panel captures all available daylight to power seamless skylight operation. 

2. With Electric "Fresh Air" Skylights, a preprogrammed remote control allows you to open or close your skylights at your convenience or at scheduled times of the day. 

3. With Manual "Fresh Air” Skylights, an operator hook makes it easy to open and close. 

4. Fixed Skylights are an economical choice for visually expanding areas such as hallways, stairwells and other closed-in, dark spaces to create a spacious and light-filled home. 

A TUBULAR SKYLIGHT brings natural light into your home but you're not able to see outside. A specially designed mirrored tunnel passes from the roof through a diffuser at the ceiling level and illuminates indoor spaces. 

There are several benefits of a tubular skylight. Let’s review some of them. 

1. Tubular skylights are more energy efficient and provide more light than traditional skylights because they are more effective at capturing light and diffusing it into the home. You will get 99% of the light coming into the tube, compared to just 36% with a traditional, flat glass skylight. 

2. Traditional, flat glass skylights often have a filter to reduce UV rays, but tubular skylights block UV rays completely at the dome so there's no sun damage or color deterioration of clothing, furniture, or any fabrics.

3. There are no structural modifications required to install a tubular skylight, so they’re much easier and quicker to install and a lot more affordable at about a third of the cost of a traditional skylight. Tubular skylights are not obtrusive on the exterior of a home, and on the inside they look like a standard light fixture. 

4. Tubular skylights also provide one hundred percent color rendition, meaning you can see the true color of objects without any color shift. For example, if you're trying to match black and navy socks, you will be able to see a distinction between the two colors. 

How does a tubular skylight actually work? It all starts with a dome, which can be mounted with a leak-proof flashing on any rooftop, from shingle to tile and everything in between. The dome then catches daylight and channels it down through Spectralight® Infinity Tubing. This reflective tubing is much more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. It’s made of the world’s most reflective material that maintains brightness around corners and when light levels are low, such as in the early morning or late afternoon, on overcast days, or during winter months. It evenly illuminates dark areas of your home through a diffuser at the ceiling level that resembles a recessed light fixture. A full line of decorative fixtures is available, both round and square, that delivers beautiful, diffused light for maximum visual comfort and aesthetics. Accessories and add-ons provide options for brightening, dimming, ventilation and even integrated, solar-powered intelligent nighttime lighting to completely control your daylighting environment.

You may be wondering if a tubular skylight will draw heat into your indoor space. While the Spectralight® Infinity Tubing transmits the visible spectrum of light, it redirects the infrared wavelengths up and out, which is the main culprit in solar heat gain. These tubes are designed to have the heat transfer up and out, without being able to feel any heat gain at the fixture. Similar to a double pane window, tubing is sealed at the top and bottom, causing the heat to exit upward.

Where is the best place to install a tubular skylight in your home? Here are our top suggestions.

1. The kitchen

In our experience, one of the most popular rooms is the kitchen. Most homeowners pick out granite or stone countertops when they are outside in daylight. Once the surfaces are installed and viewed in the home under fluorescent lighting, they just don’t look the same as when they were selected. This dilemma can easily be resolved with a tubular skylight, which allows for one hundred percent color rendition, meaning you can see the true color of objects without any color shift. 

2. A living room

Another area to consider is the living room because it’s a space where you typically spend the majority of your time. Natural light makes these spaces more inviting and desirable to be in and enjoy.

3. Any rooms or spaces that do not have a window

When people add on to their home, it sometimes causes an existing room to lose exterior windows. A few other spaces that often do not have windows and are great candidates for a tubular skylight are an interior hallway, powder bathroom, laundry room, closet, or entryway from a garage.

There are different Solatube Daylight Systems for different areas. Let’s review, and you choose the configurations that are right for you.

1. The Solatube 160 ISn Daylighting System is our most versatile product and one that’s ideal for spaces under 150 square feet. The tube is 10 inches wide and up to 20+ feet long. 

2. The Solatube 290 ISn Daylighting System can boost the brightness in bigger spaces. It is ideal for spaces that are 300+ square feet. Featuring a larger tube at 14 inches wide and up to 30+ feet long, it brings more light indoors for the brightest experience possible.

If you have any questions about cooling off a space, protecting your home, and controlling your utility bills, please set up your free in-home consultation today.

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The Guild Collective