Resources

As you explore your product options, we want to help in any way we can. On this page, we give you answers to frequently asked questions, provide installation instructions for do-it-yourself projects, and explain the basics of tax credits that can save you money. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re likely to find it here. 

In case you were wondering...

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for answers? You’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions that you can search below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us directly. We’re easy to talk to. 

What is the Solar Electric NightLight?

The Solar Electric NightLight is an integrated solar-powered nightlight that offers soft, ambient light that helps homeowners navigate their home from sundown to sun up.

How does the Solar Electric NightLight work?

The Solar Electric NightLight has an integrated solar panel that collects and generates energy from the daylight coming down the Solatube system, recharging the two (2) onboard AA NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) rechargeable batteries.The Solar Electric NightLight has a sophisticated Dusk-to-Dawn Sensor that recognizes when there is not enough daylight (waning hours of the day) and automatically turns the NightLight on.The NightLight includes two LED emitters requiring no bulb replacement over the life of the product.

How much does a Solatube Daylighting System Cost?

Solatube Daylighting Systems vary in price based on the size, the addition of extension tubes and accessories, and different roof types. Prices include product plus a consultation and installation by a Certified Installation Consultant.

Can a Solatube Daylighting System go horizontally?

Yes.  An optional 0-90 degree angle adapter allows the light to run horizontally for short distances.

CAD drawings are available on the Technical Resources section of the Solatube International website.

How large of an area does the Solatube Daylighting System light?

The light coverage area for Solatube 160 DS (10 in/250 mm Daylighting System) is approximately 200 square feet (19 sq meter), for a Solatube 290 DS (14in/350 mm Daylighting System) it is approximately 300 square feet (28 sq meter). The Solatube SolaMaster Series 750 DS and 330 DS (21 in/530 mmDaylighting System) illuminates areas up to approximately 500 square feet (46 sq meter). For Commercial Building applications, please consult a SolatubeDaylight Consultant as acceptable illuminated areas will greatly vary due to ceiling heights and space uses.

  • These estimated lighting areas are based upon an average 6' (1.82m) tube length and 8' (2.4m) ceiling height, with the dome being in direct sunlight.
  • Light output will vary depending on the intensity of the sun. For example, there will be more natural daylight at mid-day than in the early morning orevening. Light output may also decrease as the length of tube increases beyond the recommended distances.
Are there any condensation problems?

Condensation in buildings is mainly a winter problem particularly where warm, moist air is generated in areas of occupancy and then penetrates to the colder parts of the building. This can result from a number of things in both residential and commercial buildings including cooking, bathing, washing dishes and/or clothes, heating, humidifying, etc.  Condensation may be more acute in buildings with inadequate ventilation.

In relation to Solatube Daylighting Systems, the condensation occurs when warm moist air enters into the tubing. Most likely, if there is condensation occurring in the Solatube Daylighting System, there is probably condensation around other parts of the building such as on windows, doors and skylights.
 
Because there are so many variable factors that may contribute to condensation in a home, Solatube International, like most window and skylight companies, does not cover condensation under the manufacturer’s warranty. 
 
Recognizing that condensation cannot be eliminated, Solatube International has made design changes to its Daylighting Systems over the years to help address this subject.  Your local Solatube specialty dealer is best suited to determine if these improvements or other modifications will help minimize condensation in your Solatube Daylighting System. Please be aware that because condensation is not covered under warranty, there may be a charge for the service call and/or additional parts.  Your Solatube specialty dealer may suggest adding additional components that have been developed to minimize condensation such as a Dome Upgrade Kit, Flashing Insulator, Climate Control Lens or Severe Climate Glazing.
Are Solatube Daylighting Systems maintenance free?

The Solatube Daylighting System is designed to be a sealed unit. All assemblies (dome, flashing, tubing, diffuser) have seals to stop bug and dirt infiltration.  The maintenance free design and shape of the dome and flashing eliminates debris build-up. Unlike traditional skylights, there is no open drywall shaft that requires cleaning and re-painting.

What if the light is too bright or bluish?

We offer a suite of Effect Lenses to adjust the light to soften or warm the light color. For those who prefer less light, we offer the Softening Effect Lens that creates a subtle, softer natural lighting effect. The optional Solatube Daylight Dimmer can also be installed to allow control of the light output.

The Warm/Warm Softening Effect Lens enhances natural daylight by warming the light creating a color comparable to incandescent bulbs. Never use standard window tinting or any flammable material to block the incoming light. This is an extreme fire hazard.

For the SolaMaster Series we offer a secondary diffuser that fits under the dome to soften the light if necessary.

What is the UV impact of installing a Solatube Daylighting System?

To answer this question we first need to understand what wavelengths of radiation are emitted through a Solatube Daylighting System.  Solatube Daylighting Systems utilize two technologies to eliminate UV radiation and reduce heat from infrared (IR) wavelengths from entering the building interior as follows:

  • The first technology is related to the domes.  Solatube acrylic outer domes have special UV inhibitors designed to block 100% of UVB (280 to 315 nanometers), 100% UVC (100 to 280 nanometers) and 98.5% UVA (315 to 400 nanometers) rays.
  • The second technology is related to the tubing.  Spectralight Infinity tubing transmits the visible spectrum of light (400 to 760 nanometers).  The infrared spectrum of light (above 760 nanometers) is not transmitted by the Spectralight Infinity tubing.

With this information in mind, the following subjects can be addressed:

Plant Growth

There are a few factors to consider when determining if a Solatube Daylighting System will have an effect on plant growth in conjunction with the above information.  The first factor would be how much UV, if any, the particular plant will need for proper growth.  Second, the size of the product you are using may impact how much light the plant will be able to obtain.  It is also important to point out that the Solatube Daylighting System removes a majority of the infrared wavelengths, which only provide heat to the plants.  This substantially reduces any heat related stress problems that may occur with indoor plants.

Typically plant growth occurs between 400 and 1000 nanometers.  Based on this data, it would be safe to say that in general a Solatube Daylighting System will have a positive effect on plant growth depending on that particular plants UV requirements.

Solar Heat Gain

With the infrared blocking capabilities of the Spectralight Infinity tubing, removing greater than 50% of the heat from the infrared wavelengths (>900 nanometer's) of the sun with every reflection on the tube surface, the Solar Heat Gain of Solatube products is greatly reduced, which in turn will reduce the air conditioning load requirement for the space being daylit.  These technologies allow Solatube Daylighting Systems to provide the highest light output performance with minimal thermal impact.

UV Effect on Skin and Vitamin D

The different UV wavelengths effect skin in the following ways:

  • UVA - The lowest energy range, UVA causes little burning ordinarily, but it penetrates deeply, beyond the surface layer of the skin.  Over long periods of exposure, UVA causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
  • UVB - More energetic, the chief burning and tanning rays which area major factor in producing skin cancer, although not penetrating beyond the skin.
  • UVC - The most energetic, intensely burning rays.  Fortunately, UVC is mostly absorbed by the earth's sunscreen, the ozone layer.

Concerning Vitamin D it is synthesized in the skin when UV rays react with a compound within skin between the 270-300 nanometers wavelengths, with peak synthesis between 295-297 nanometers.  Based on this information the Solatube Daylighting Systems do not transfer the required UV for Vitamin D synthesis as it will block all of the UVB and UVC rays, which fall between the 100-315 nanometer range.

Note: The UV information in this article is specific to Solatube Daylighting Systems - other TDD products may not provide the same performance standards.

How long can the tube be?

Recommended maximum tube run:

  • Solatube 160 DS (10 in/250 mm) Brighten Up® Series 20' (6m)
  • Solatube 290 DS (14 in/350 mm) Brighten Up® Series 30' (9m)
  • Solatube 330 DS and 750 DS (21 in/530 mm) SolaMaster® Series 50' (15m)
How do I remove my Solatube Daylighting System diffuser?

Your ceiling diffuser is quite easy to remove and clean. Please note that older Solatube Daylighting Systems (Installed before the year 2000) have twist-lock diffusers for the 10 in/250 mm & 14 in/350 mm. For these older units the diffuser twists off counter clockwise when looking up at the diffuser.

If you have a unit that was installed between 2000 & 2007, to remove the diffuser simply pry down one edge of the white trim ring using something flat such as a butter knife. Continue to work your way around the ring until you have a 1/4" (7mm) or so gap all the way around. Then simply grab onto the edges and pull straight down. The diffuser lens can be cleaned with soap and water. To re- install the diffuser position the 4 zip style ties into the 4 holes on the ceiling ring and push up until the diffuser is flush with the ceiling.

If you have a unit that was installed between 2007 & 2010, simply pull the diffuser down.

If you have a diffuser that was purchased after September 2010, you'll need to twist off the diffuser counter-clockwise.

Is there a way to turn off or "block out" a Solatube Daylighting System?

Yes!  The Solatube Daylight Dimmer (Patent 7,082,726) allows the natural lighting level of a room to be turned up or down on demand, providing unprecedented flexibility for tubular skylights in both residential and commercial applications.  The Daylight Dimmer easily controls the amount of light desired in any room from the convenience of a switch.  Available for Solatube 160 DS, Solatube 290 DS, Solatube 330/750 DS SolaMaster Series.  The patented variable butterfly baffle controls light output, making it perfect for bedrooms, family rooms, offices, classroom and conference rooms.

For further assistance and questions about pricing please visit our dealer locator page to find an expert that can help to make sure all your product and applications are addressed.

Can Solatube Daylighting Systems be installed in a shower?

Yes. There are, however, a few things to be aware of in these types of applications.  Because of the excess moisture in the shower you may experience condensation, which is not covered under the warranty as it is a natural occurrence.  You will want to make sure there is proper ventilation and it would be recommended to utilize the Natural Effect Lens for Climate Control to minimize the air exchange between the shower and inside of the tubing as much as possible.

For more information on our warranty please feel free to visit the warranty page of our website.

How short can the tube be?

There is no minimum distance!  Applications without an attic space, vaulted ceilings or open beam ceilings are quite common.  In very short spaces the tubing may need to be modified to fit the space.  This can be done easily by cutting the tubing to the desired length.  Note that is recommended to have a straight tube run when installing into small spaces.

Can a Solatube Daylighting System be used for the first floor of a two story house or in a basement application?

Yes, if there is a closet or place for the tubes to run  from the roof through the house to the first floor or to the basement.  A Solatube 290 DS is recommended due to the long distance from the roof.  Usually a chase is built around the tubing for added protection.

What does the ceiling fixture (diffuser) look like for the Solatube 160 DS & 290 DS?

All diffusers are designed to be highly attractive and unobtrusive on the ceiling.  They feature a sleek dress ring that transitions the lens to the ceiling with a beveled edge.  The dress ring is injection molded with impact resistant acrylic.

There are currently two options for ceiling diffuser lenses.  Both are dual glazed and designed to effectively diffuse the natural sunlight throughout the room. 

Vusion™ Diffuser: For outstanding light diffusion that artfully blends to the ceiling plane, select the Vusion diffuser.  The fresh design harmonizes with most décor, yet provides the radiance of natural light. 

OptiView® Diffuser: Allows a view of the sky through a series of high-tech radial lenses.  This high-tech lens is highly effective at diffusing light and minimizing glare.  The OptiView diffuser not only looks great but also adds some additional features to the Solatube skylights that no other product can match.  This revolutionary diffuser lens bends the light exiting our Spectralight® Infinity optical tubing upward approximately 85 degrees which provides much better light dispersion.  The other wonderful feature is that when you look up through the lens you see miniature views of the sun, moon and sky.

Also available is a softening lens.  This option is installed at the diffuser level and diffuses the light, delivering a softer light.  It is primarily used in very sunny markets where occasionally customers feel their Solatube Daylighting Systems are too bright.  We recommend waiting two weeks after installing a new Solatube Daylighting System to adjust to the new light.

What if I install a Solar Star on a section of the roof that doesn't have all-day sun exposure?

The Solar Star attic fan runs best when the solar panel is in direct sunlight. The unit will run at a reduced speed in the shade (provided the sky is bright) but if one has heavy shading for a good portion of the day an "Add-on Solar Panel" for the Solar Star is a great idea.  An extra panel can be placed up to 15' (4.5m) away (possibly on the opposite side of the roof with all-day sun exposure) from the main roof unit to provide better all day performance.

Can I split the tubing and light two rooms from only one dome?

No. It is not possible to connect 2 diffusers to one dome. In order to gain the maximum light possible to your room, Solatube International uses a 1-to-1 product design matching the dome to the diffuser. There is no "Y" adapter available for Solatube Daylighting System. 

What happens if the dome gets covered with snow?

Light output will be reduced but the dome will be fine. Tests have indicated that all size models of the Solatube Daylighting Systems can resist positive snow loads of up to 150 pounds per square foot.  For more information and to review the CCRR test report click on the link below.

Can I install a Solatube Daylighting System myself?

Installation of a Solatube Daylighting System is very easy.  An experienced contractor or handyman can do it in a few hours.

The Solatube Daylighting System is designed with a patented fastening and telescoping tube system that virtually eliminates the need to enter the attic.  Additionally, many components are pre-assembled at the factory for minimum assembly time.

How does a Solatube Daylighting System work?

The Solatube Daylighting System captures light through a dome on the roof and channels it down through our internal reflective system. This tubing is far more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. The tubing will fit between rafters and will install easily with no structural modification. At the ceiling level, a diffuser that resembles a recessed light fixture spreads the light evenly throughout the room.

How durable is the Solatube Daylighting System?

All parts are covered by a 10-year warranty. Electrical components are covered by a 5-year warranty.

  • The dome is made from high quality acrylic resin that is specifically formulated for increased impact strength, chemical, weather resistance and high clarity. For High Velocity Hurricane Zone areas we have available the Shock Inner Dome for the Brighten Up® Series. For the SolaMaster® Series we offer a Polycarbonate inner dome.
  • The tubing is made from puncture proof aluminum sheet with a UV protective covering.
Does the Solar Star have an on/off switch or thermostat?

The Solar Star attic fan by design is meant to run whenever daylight strikes the solar panel.  Attics are meant to be ventilated year round, during the winter proper ventilation helps prevent condensation from forming within the attic which could cause significant heat loss from the home if the attic insulation gets wet.  A cool, dry attic is the best solution for keeping the heat in the house during the winter.  If your attic is properly insulated and moisture build up is not a concern but cold temperatures are a concern then consider using the optional Solar Star Thermal Switch.

The Solar Star does not have an on/off switch but the optional Solar Star Thermal Switch can be added that will turn off the Solar Star when the temperature in the attic is below 65 F (18°C) and will turn on the Solar Star when the temperature in the attic is greater than 85°F (29°C). 

What is a Solatube Daylighting System and how does it compare to a traditional box skylight?

Traditional skylights have their place, as do Tubular Daylighting Devices. There are a few key benefits of the Solatube Daylighting System, however, including flexible location options, low cost of installation and better lighting performance.  Also, traditional skylights do not offer any optical enhancement devices to help increase performance. On the north side of a sloped roof, the light output from a regular skylight is significantly reduced without these devices.

The Solatube Daylighting System, for example, features several patented enhancement devices, which work in concert to capture more light from all angles and reflect it down the tube for higher light output during early morning, late afternoon and in the winter months when the sun is low on the horizon.

The Solatube Daylighting System transfers the maximum amount of ambient light into a room with minimal light loss, allowing it to provide great performance even on cloudy or rainy days. In fact, it captures ambient light so well, on a full-moon night, you can actually see a nice glow.

Can Solatube Daylighting Systems be installed on flat or very low-pitched roofs?

Yes, with the optional flat "no-pitch" flashing the Solatube Daylighting System can be installed on low pitched roofs ranging from flat (0/12 pitch) to 3/12 pitches. The flat "no-pitch"flashings are available in 4" (100mm) and 6" (150mm) heights for residential applications.

The 750 DS and 330 DS SolaMaster series for commercial applications have 4", 8" and 11" self flashing options available for flat or low pitched roofs. Another option is to use thecurb cap option (curb by others). Dimensions of the curb cap can be located under the Technical Resources section of the Solatube website - simply open a CAD drawing of aSolaMaster daylighting system which is using the cap option.

How much air can the Ventilation Add-on Kit move?

The Solatube Daylighting System’s proprietary fan/motor is rated at 110-CFM (cubic feet per minute; 3 cubic Meters per minute) which is of a much higher performance than a standard bathroom vent that most of us have in our homes. This ensures quick and effective ventilation.

What if there is moisture accumulating on the outside of the tube?

This is a symptom of attic condensation due to inadequate ventilation. Wrapping the tube with insulation can help, but is not the cure for the larger problem. Need further ventilation? Try one of our Solar Star ventilation systems!

Solatube International corporate headquarters

Solatube International

Since 1991, Solatube International has designed and manufactured a full line of daylighting systems and solar-powered attic fans that have added brightness, beauty and comfort to more than 2 million homes. The company distributes its products throughout the U.S. and Canada using a network of dealers and distributors like Solatube Home Daylight. To learn more, visit www.solatube.com.