Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the Solatube FAQ page! To quickly find answers to your questions, click a topic in the side menu or enter a question in the search box below. Still can't find what you're looking for? Send us your question directly by contacting us.
How much attic space is needed to install a Solatube Ventilation Add-On Kit?
A minimum of 12 1/2 in. (318 mm) between ceiling joists and a minimum of 12 in. (304 mm) of vertical clearance above the ceiling is required in order to use the Ventilation Add-On Kit. It is also important to note that service access is required to the fan motor assembly junction box.
What if the protective liner won't come off the inside of the tubes?
If the tubes have been left in the sun or exposed to heat, the protective lining may adhere to the tubing and become difficult to remove. If this occurs, the tubing will likely need to be replaced. For best results, un-installed tubing should be kept in the packaging until it is installed. Also, it should not be stored in areas with direct sunlight or excessive heat for long periods of time.
How are the extension tube sections fastened together?

Most Solatube® Daylighting Systems feature tubing with a specially designed notching system that allows one tube to telescope into the next, so they rarely have to be cut to length. High-quality foil tape is used to seal all tubing seams. This keeps bugs and dust from entering the system, ensuring maintenance-free operation. Tube sections are further reinforced by fastening them with provided self-tapping screws for structural integrity.

One exception is the Solatube SkyVault® Series, which features a patented Tab-Lock Connection System that guarantees proper assembly. Additionally, Tube Belts ensure structural integrity by cinching the tube connection to prevent gaps and provide a tapeless, self-sealing joint. This combination of features simplifies installation and reduces labor costs.

What if there is no attic or plenum space?

Solatube® Daylighting Systems feature unique telescoping tubes that can be easily installed even when access to the attic or plenum is limited or there is no space between the ceiling and roof at all. We can also install most products in an open ceiling application where no ceiling exists and the underside of the roof deck is exposed.

One exception to this is the Solatube Smart LED™ System, which requires a minimum height of 16 in. (406 mm) between the base of the ceiling and the roof line. With the Solatube SolaMaster® Series 330 DS-C and 750 DS-C units, the transition box requires approximately a 12 in. (305 mm) depth between the ceiling and the roof.

We recommend you consult your local Solatube daylighting expert for specific details.

Where can Solatube Daylighting Systems be installed?
The better question is where can’t they be installed? Solatube® Daylighting Systems have been installed in virtually every type of residential and commercial application. See our residential and commercial showcases for examples.
Will I have to cut the tubing?

Most Solatube® Daylighting System extension tube sections have a special notching system that allows one end of the tube to be larger than the other so they can telescope into each other for easy installation. As a result, trimming is rarely necessary.

The exception to this rule is the Solatube SkyVault® Series, a product that was designed for commercial high bay, open ceiling applications that don’t require connecting to a ceiling.

It features an innovative Tab-Lock Connection System with Tube Belts as well as extension tubes that come in pre-determined lengths, which makes cutting the tubing unnecessary.

Can a Solatube Daylighting System be installed through a wall?

The Solatube® International, Inc. roof components have been designed for installation at the roof level, not on a vertical wall. By installing the roof components on a vertical wall, the product warranty would be voided. However, installations of this type have been done successfully. We recommend a warranty from the installer to cover this type of application.

An application where the roof components are mounted on the roof and the tubing makes a 90 degree turn to allow the diffuser or Decorative Fixture to be mounted on an interior wall are within the bounds of the warranty.

For more information, please contact your local Solatube daylighting expert.

Can Solatube Daylighting Systems be installed on a metal roof?

Yes. We offer three different options, depending on the type of roof and Solatube® product you’re using.

Option one is a Metal Roof Kit that can be used in conjunction with our self-flashing systems on most standing seam metal roofs with seams that are less than 4 1/2 in. (114 mm) high. This is the most commonly used application for our Solatube Daylighting System 290 DS as well as our Solatube SolaMaster® Series 330 DS and 750 DS. This is the only option for our Solatube SkyVault® product for metal roofs of all types.

Option two is the curb cap used on a curb (made by others) where the curb is custom-fabricated to fit the metal roof profile. This is the most commonly used application for our 290 DS, 330 DS, 750 DS models, and the only option for our Solatube SkyVault® Series product for metal roofs of all types.

Option three is the Solatube Metal Roof Flashing, which is available exclusively for our Solatube SolaMaster Series. Featuring an innovative triple-seal Dry-Lock technique, it can be adapted to fit virtually any standing seam roof profile.

See our Production Selection Guide and Technical Resources pages for more details.

It’s always recommended that you contact your local Solatube daylighting expert for specific application details.

How does the tube attach to the ceiling?

For residential applications

For Solatube® Daylighting Systems, the bottom tube comes pre-assembled from the factory with integrated fastening clamps in the ceiling ring. For Solatube Smart LED™ Systems, the fastening clamps are attached to the High-Performance Amplifier rather than the bottom tube. Once inserted into the ceiling opening, the bottom tubing telescopes into the top tubing. The integrated fastening clamps secure the ceiling ring into the ceiling.

If using AuroraGlo™ or QuadraFrost™ Decorative Fixtures, please see Solatube Decorative Fixtures installation instructions appendix for additional details.

For commercial applications

If using the Solatube Brighten Up® Series or Smart LED System, refer to the above information for either suspended or hard ceiling applications.

For the Solatube SolaMaster® Series, we offer a transition box in our Solatube SolaMaster Series 750 DS-C and 330 DS-C models. This allows for integration into a suspended, acoustical ceiling grid, replacing a typical 2 ft by 2 ft ceiling tile. The transition box also offers a trim lip so that it can be used in a hard ceiling.

For Solatube SolaMaster Series 750 DS-O and 330 DS-O models, our round open ceiling diffuser can be used in a hard or suspended ceiling. You may want to add an additional trim ring for cosmetics.

The Solatube SkyVault® Series is not recommended for drop ceiling applications.

When roofing, what is the best time to install a Solatube Daylighting System?

All Solatube® products were designed with retrofit applications in mind. However, when dealing with a new roof installation or a re-roofing project, it’s recommended to coordinate with the roofer.

For residential applications

For typical shingle roofs, it is best to install after the new roof is in place. However, the Solatube Daylighting System can easily be installed at the same time the roof is going on in most cases.

When installing a Solatube Daylighting System on a tile roof, installation is usually done after the roof is completed. On hot mop applications, installation can be done during or after.

For commercial applications

For new construction or re-roofing projects, our Solatube daylighting experts often coordinate the installation of a Solatube Daylighting System with a professional roofer to ensure flashings or curbs are properly installed. This helps to maintain the roof warranty, if applicable. Since they are factory-trained on all Solatube products and experienced with installing on a wide variety of roof types, Solatube daylighting experts can provide valuable information on how to ensure a successful outcome.

How long does it take to install a Solatube Daylighting System?

For residential applications

Solatube® Daylighting Systems feature factory-assembled parts for faster, easier, more professional-looking installations. With this in mind, installing a Solatube Daylighting System on a shingle asphalt roof usually takes two hours or less. Other roof types (e.g., slate, tile, metal, concrete) may take slightly longer due to the roof material.

For commercial applications

Installation times can vary greatly depending on job site conditions, roof type, roof mount options, model and product configuration, and so on. Contact your Solatube daylighting expert for more information.

What best practices can an installer employ to reduce the possibility of condensation when installing a Solatube Daylighting System?

Understanding the cause (e.g., poor ventilation) is the first step toward preventing condensation. Listed below are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the potential for moisture buildup.

1. Always make sure round holes are cut in the roof deck, whether using the self-flashing or the curb-mounted cap. Square holes cut in the roof deck will let too much warm, moist air into the flashing or curb cavity.

2. Install a flashing insulator or curb insulator. These reduce the amount of warm air from the building's interior that contacts the cold, metal interior of the flashing. On a curb-mounted unit, attach the curb insulator to the interior base of the curb, centering it over the round hole in the roof deck.

3. For self-flashing units, pack insulation material into the space between the flashing and the tubing to reduce the volume of warm, interior air that contacts the cold metal of the flashing. With curb-mounted units, push insulation into the curb cavity. Filling the curb cavity's air space will equalize the temperature and reduce the occurrence of condensation. The Solatube® Curb Cap Insulation Kit is also recommended and provides R-6 rigid insulation at the underside of the curb cap. For the Solatube SkyVault® Series, rigid insulation is pre-installed in the roof assembly.

4. If a curb or flashing insulator is not used, another option is to seal the penetration where the tubing comes through the roof deck with an expanding foam sealant, insulation, or other similar product. This will reduce the chances of warm, moist air making contact with the interior of the flashing or curb cavity.

5. Ensure the dome is correctly attached to the flashing or curb cap, including dome seals in certain models. Solatube Daylighting Systems are designed to allow some air transfer from the interior of the system to the exterior. This allows moist air to vent, while enabling any droplets of water that may form on the dome to escape

6. In extreme cold climates, wrap the tubing in insulation. For best results, use foil-faced insulation. Be sure to insulate the entire tube run from the roof deck to the ceiling plane, leaving no gaps in the insulation. You can also use this method in extremely moist environments in an open ceiling application.

7. If a vapor barrier is present when penetrating the roof deck, ensure that it is maintained and sealed off once the Solatube Daylighting System has been installed.

For more details on how to address condensation, please contact your Solatube daylighting expert.

Can the Solatube Daylighting System run down the outside of a structure and turn 90 degrees through a wall into the interior?

The tubing of a Solatube® Daylighting System is not designed for exposed exterior applications. As long as the exterior tube runs are encased for added protection, however, this type of application is possible. To accommodate multiple 90-degree turns, angle adapters are available that provide maximum flexibility while resulting in minimal light loss. Also, keep in mind that the roof components must be supported if they reside on the side of the structure rather than the roof.

Note: this type of application may void the warranty. Consult your Solatube daylighting expert for more information.

On what roof types can Solatube Daylighting Systems be installed?

Solatube® Daylighting Systems can be installed on practically any roof type. We offer numerous roof mount options for both self-mounted and curb-mounted applications. For details, see our Product Selection Guides for residential and commercial applications.

Can I install Solatube International, Inc. products myself?

For residential applications

While Solatube® Daylighting Systems and Solar Star® Attic Fans are engineered for easy installation, you’ll get the best results when you hire a professional who has been factory-trained and certified to install our products. When arranging installation, we recommend you hire a Solatube Premier Dealer who is licensed, bonded and factory-trained on Solatube products to ensure a proper install and protection from unforeseen circumstances.

A general contractor, roofer or local building material supplier may also be able to assist you.

As a homeowner, we recommend installing it yourself only if you have the proper tools and training, and are comfortable making a roof penetration.

For commercial applications

For commercial applications, we recommend a Solatube International Commercial Distributor who has been factory-trained on all Solatube products. They can offer design assistance and/or installation services / training. Coordination with a general contractor or roofer may be required depending on the scope of the project.

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

No. To transfer the most light possible to your interior, Solatube®, Inc. International uses a 1-to-1 product design that matches the dome to the diffuser. There is no "Y" tubing adapter available for Solatube Daylighting Systems that connects two diffusers to one dome.

How do I remove my Solatube Daylighting System diffuser or Decorative Fixture?

For Residential applications

Your Solatube® diffuser or Decorative Fixture is quite easy to remove and clean. Please note that Solatube Daylighting Systems manufactured before 2000 have twist-lock diffusers for the 10 in. (250 mm) and 14 in. (350 mm) models. For these older units, the diffuser twists off counterclockwise when looking up at the diffuser. 
If you have a unit that was manufactured between 2000 - 2007, simply pry down one edge of the white trim ring using something flat like a butter knife. Continue to work your way around the ring until you have a 1/4 in. (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 four zip ties into the four holes on the ceiling ring and push up until the diffuser is flush with the ceiling.

If you have a unit that was manufactured between 2007 - 2010, simply pull the diffuser straight down.

If you have a diffuser or Decorative Fixture that was purchased after September 2010, you'll need to twist off the diffuser counterclockwise.

For the QuadraFrost™ and AuroraGlo™ Decorative Fixtures, simply rotate the screws located on the sides of the fixture counterclockwise to release. Make sure to support the underside of the fixture when releasing it from the ceiling.

For Commercial applications

For Solatube BrightenUp® Series or Solatube Smart LED™ Systems, see instructions above for removing a diffuser or Decorative Fixture.

For the SolaMaster® 330 DS-C and 750 DS-C, remove the diffuser by releasing the tabs on the diffuser frame from the transition box. For the Solatube SolaMaster Series 330 DS-O and 750 DS-O, find the four raised lines on the plastic trim of the diffuser. This indicates where the tube notches are that hold the diffuser in place. Depress above the raised lines to disengage the diffuser from the notches.

For the Solatube SkyVault® Series, first remove the tube belt above the diffuser. Next, lift and untwist the diffuser to unlock it from the Tab-Lock Connection System.

Important note: When removing any diffuser, keep all seals in place to insure proper reassembly. See installation instructions for reattaching diffuser in the Technical Resources section of our website.

What length can the tube be?

To achieve optimal light output in spaces that require long tube runs, we recommend using tube lengths no longer than those listed below:

  • Solatube® Brighten Up® Series: Solatube 160 DS (10 in. / 250 mm) - 20 ft (6m)
  • Solatube Brighten Up Series: Solatube 290 DS (14 in. / 350 mm) - 30 ft (9m)
  • Solatube Smart LED™ System: (10 in. / 250 mm) - 20 ft (6m)
  • Solatube SolaMaster® Series: Solatube 330 DS and 750 DS (21 in. / 530 mm) - 50 ft (15m)
  • Solatube SkyVault® Series: M74 DS (29 in. / 740 mm) - 100 ft (30m)

For tube runs exceeding 15 ft in length or running horizontally, we recommend the addition of suspension wires for support.

In short tube runs, there is no minimum length for the Solatube Brighten Up Series. The tubing may simply need to be modified to fit the space. This can be done easily by telescoping or cutting the tubing to the desired length. With the Smart LED System, the minimum length is 16 in. to accommodate the Amplifier. For SolaMaster 330 DS-C or 750 DS-C, a minimum depth of 12 in. is required to accommodate the transition box. For most open ceiling applications, the tube can be cut or telescoped to make the diffuser flush with the underside of the roof deck or to lower the diffuser to the desired height.

For Solatube SkyVault M74 DS applications, the Tab-Lock Connection System dictates that the tubes are set to designated lengths. Curb height can be manipulated to affect diffuser position.

Keep in mind that, for a short tube run, creating tube angles may not be possible.

Can a Solatube Daylighting System be installed horizontally?

Yes. Optional Spectralight® Infinity 0-90 Degree Tubing creates up to 90 degree angles and allows the light to run horizontally. You can even achieve multiple 90 degree turns in the same tube run.

CAD drawings are available on the Technical Resources page of our website.