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Here you'll learn everything you need to know about Tubular Daylighting Devices, how they compare to traditional skylights and how you can earn a 30% federal income tax credit on the purchase and installation of select models. 


Things To Know Before You Buy
The Skylight Alternative
Smart LED Comparison



Things to know before you buy


If you’ve never heard of a Tubular Daylighting Device (TDD) before, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll learn what a TDD is, why you might want to consider purchasing one, and what to look for when shopping.

What is a Tubular Daylighting Device? 
Our Solatube Daylighting Systems are known as Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs). They capture sunlight using a rooftop dome, then transfer it indoors through a reflective tube that runs from the roof to the ceiling. From there, the light is evenly dispersed into the interior space using a diffuser. With the Solatube ISn models, and in-tube solar-electric system collects energy to power a NightLight that automatically comes on after dark.

While tubular daylighting devices are sometimes referred to as “tubular skylights,” “sun pipes” and “light tunnels,” Solatube Daylighting Systems are more advanced and complex than these names imply. They are the only high-performance daylighting devices that use patented optical technologies to significantly improve the way daylight is harnessed and delivered to interiors. And unlike traditional skylights, they do not require reframing, drywalling, tunneling or repainting or days to install. Instead they can be installed in about two hours with little mess or disruption, and at a fraction of the cost.

Why purchase a Tubular Daylighting Device?

  • It provides exceptional lighting. The light output of a TDD is incredible, providing the same amount of light you would expect from a skylight many times its size.
  • It is cost-effective. Product and installation costs for a TDD are considerably less than other daylighting options, such as windows and skylights.
  • You can earn a 30% tax credit. Our standard product, the Solatube 160 ISn and 290 ISn, each comes with a built-in solar powered NightLight, qualifying the entire system for a 30% federal tax credit on purchase and installation. This credit significantly lowers the net cost, making daylighting more affordable than ever.
  • What should you look for in a Tubular Daylighting Device?Installation is fast, clean and easy. TDDs require no structural reframing, tunneling, drywalling or painting. A professional can install the product in less than two hours and most do-it-yourselfers can finish the project in one day.
  • It can go almost anywhere. The compact and flexible design of TDDs allow them to be installed in just about any interior, including small spaces or locations on lower floors where daylighting would usually not be an option.
  • It is "green." TDDs allow you to switch off electric lights during the day, which reduces energy bills and environmental pollution.
  • It is actually good for you. It has been shown in several prominent studies that daily exposure to natural light can enhance mental and physical well-being, boost concentration and energy levels, and offer a variety of other unexpected perks.

Buy the brand name
Solatube International, Inc. is the best-known brand in the industry, and our products are unparalleled for their quality, performance and innovation. Installing a Solatube Daylighting System ensures that you have a product that utilizes the most advanced technology available. Lesser brands simply fail to perform to the same standard.

Seek the best light quality
Technology makes a tremendous difference in lighting performance. Solatube products are the only ones that utilize advanced optical devices such as Raybender® 3000 Technology and Spectralight® Infinity, a revolutionary reflective tubing material that transfers more daylight than any other currently used in the industry. With Solatube Daylighting Systems, all you see is the brightest, cleanest and whitest natural light possible.

Look for the ENERGY STAR® label
This widely-recognized, enhanced energy-efficiency rating means that the product has met the stringent requirements of the Energy Star program through the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Think long-term
Cutting corners may save a few bucks on the front end, but it could put you at risk for expensive repairs down the road. Solatube Daylighting Systems include a leakproof design with an innovative moisture control system that ensures an air- and water-tight installation for ultimate peace of mind.

Consider adaptability
A TDD can be installed almost anywhere, including tight spaces and areas without direct roof access. Solatube International takes this flexibility further by offering a zero-to-90-degree extension tube that can accommodate even the trickiest of installation challenges without compromising lighting performance.

Factor in function
Solatube Daylighting Systems can be customized with a Light Add-On Kit for nighttime lighting, a Ventilation Add-On Kit for humidity dispersion, and a revolutionary Daylight Dimmer that features a patented butterfly baffle for adjusting sunlight levels at the flip of the switch. The new Solatube ISn Systems add a NightLight feature for soft illumination after dark.

Beauty counts too
Don’t settle for one-size-fits-all models. Our Solatube Decorative Fixtures feature a variety of styles, which offer a unique look at the ceiling level while allowing for a customized daylighting experience.




The Skylight Alternative

Solatube International has changed the way people think about daylighting by offering a simple, smart alternative to traditional skylights. Only Solatube Daylighting Systems use breakthrough technology to bring natural light into virtually any space – without the cost, leaks and hassle associated with traditional skylights.

  Solatube Daylighting
Traditional Skylights

Daylighting consistency
Solatube Daylighting Systems brighten interiors more effectively and evenly than traditional skylights. Our patented technology delivers consistent light throughout the day and all year long, as opposed to the shifting pattern of light you get with traditional skylights.

Light output
Our patented dome and tubing, equipped with advanced optics, provide lighting performance superior to that of a traditional skylight. Our Effect Lenses can also quickly and easily modify the color and strength of the daylight.

Energy efficiency
You don’t have to sacrifice performance for energy efficiency. Solatube Daylighting Systems are Energy Star® rated and, unlike most traditional skylights, offer maximum visible light with minimal solar heat gain.

Without the need for reframing or painting, Solatube Daylighting Systems are a fraction of the cost of traditional skylights*.

Ease of installation
Our Certified Installation Consultants can install a Solatube Daylighting System in as little as two hours. The compact design eliminates the need for costly construction or reframing.

Solatube Daylighting Systems allow you to bring natural light to virtually any space. Our reflective tubing directs sunlight into hard-to-reach areas where traditional skylights aren’t an option—at a fraction of the cost.

Ease of maintenance
Solatube Daylighting Systems are engineered for peace of mind. Everything from the leakproof design to the impact-resistant, self-cleaning dome ensures trouble-free maintenance.

Design & functionality**
Solatube Decorative Fixtures allow daylighting customization. You can even add a Light Kit, Vent Kit or Daylight Dimmer to create a multi-functional system.

30% Federal Tax Credit
Save 30% on cost of product and installation.


*Source: Traditional skylight project cost estimated by Home Tech software.
**Light Add-On Kits available with 160 ISn/DS/DSe and 290 ISn/DS/DSe models.  Vent Add-On Kits available with 160 models only. 



Smart LED Comparison

With the wide acceptance of Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting, Solatube International saw an opportunity to create the world’s most efficient 24/7 lighting fixture by integrating this ingenious technology into its proven daylighting products. The result is the Solatube Smart LED System, an automated and extremely energy-efficient lighting solution that cuts energy use by up to 94%*.

Energy Efficiency
One of the biggest advantages of LED technology is its exceptional energy efficiency. When it comes to lighting a home, incandescent bulbs are the least energy efficient. They convert only about 10% of electricity into light. The remaining 90% is squandered as heat. That’s why incandescent bulbs feel hot to the touch when left on for extended periods. Halogen and fluorescent bulbs are better options with respective efficiencies of 30% and 75% over incandescent.

But LEDs outperform them all. Their unique design makes them 90% more efficient than incandescent sources. At that rate, LEDs can significantly reduce annual home lighting energy bills from the cost of a fancy dinner for a family of eight to the price of a single latte.

Extended Life
Another advantage of LEDs is their extra-long lifespan, shining on for years and even decades beyond traditional sources. They can survive up to three times longer than compact fluorescent, eight times longer than halogen, and a whopping 25 times longer than incandescent.

As a result, maintenance is easier with LEDs because bulb replacement is virtually eliminated. Even when an LED nears the end of its life, it doesn’t go out. It merely dims, with recommended replacement occurring when it reaches 70% of it original brightness.

LEDs also rank high for performance. Like incandescent and halogen sources, they deliver bright light, turn on instantly, and can be dimmed. They also can be switched on and off repeatedly without affecting bulb life.

Compact fluorescent bulbs, in contrast, perform poorly in all of these areas. They are slow to warm up, difficult to dim, and can’t withstand frequent on-off switching because it reduces the bulb’s life span.

Light Color
Light color is another important consideration. Many people prefer the “warm” yellow light of incandescent and halogen sources. Compact fluorescents, on the other hand, have been criticized for their harsh, bluish light quality.

LEDs offer a wide array of color options, from yellows that mimic incandescent light to dynamic blues, greens, reds and a multitude of other colors. In fact, some bulbs allow thematic settings like “sunset” or “deep sea,” depending on user preference. They can be dimmed and some can even be controlled remotely using a tablet or smart phone, allowing home or building owners to turn lights on or off when away.

On top of this, LEDs provide an element of safety that other lighting sources simply can’t. For one, their compact design makes them practically unbreakable. They also contain no harmful chemicals.

Other traditional bulbs can break easily, scattering shards of glass that could injure bystanders. In addition, a broken compact fluorescent bulb will release mercury that can create health problems for occupants. If this occurs, careful handling is a must, followed by proper disposal at a household hazardous waste facility.

LED Options
With all these advantages, LED is a technology that seems destined for an extended stay. Today, home and building owners can choose from a number of different bulb options at various prices. Some of these include Cree’s LED Bulb at $10 each, Greenwave Solution’s LED Bulb at $20 each, and 3M’s Advanced LED Bulb at $25 each.

In addition to these, Solatube International’s Smart LED offering is a one-of-a-kind system that takes LED one step further. This hybrid option unites advanced LEDs with state-of-the-art Solatube daylighting technology to deliver the optimal lighting solution.

This revolutionary system features SunSense Technology,  a patented control center with an integrated Daylight Sensor** that continually assesses light levels. The sensor triggers LEDs automatically when levels are too low. It also turns them off when levels are too high. The result is a seamless blending of daylight and LED light, delivering consistent lighting 24 hours a day.

To make the Smart LED System even more energy efficient, it can be outfitted with an optional Occupancy Sensor** that activates the LEDs only when an underlit area is occupied. It also can be paired with a Smart LED Secondary System for synchronized lighting in a long hallway or large area like a living room or conference room.

Considering all that the LED has to offer, it’s no wonder that demand is growing for this groundbreaking light source. In fact, experts anticipate it will become the most popular lighting technology available within the next five years.

Its ability to perform better, last longer and cost less over time compared to traditional sources are undeniable benefits. Plus, the added value of increased safety, enhanced light color selection, and remote capability (with some models) further widens the gap between LEDs and all other lighting sources on the market today. With selling points like these, upgrading to LEDs will soon be on the “to do” lists of home and building owners everywhere as they seek to reap the numerous advantages that LEDs have to offer.

**According to the U.S. Energy Department, LEDs provide an advantage when used in concert with daylight sensors or occupancy sensors.