Buying Guide: Choose the Right Sun Tunnel

Published on Thursday, 29th September 2016

Sun tunnels are ingenious tubular skylights that channel daylight from your roof to a room or space below. They are perfect for windowless rooms or dark hallways, where you will instantly see the difference in the comfort of your living space. They are quickly and easily installed, causing very little disruption to your home and seamlessly complement your room.

In this article, Tyler from our customer services team goes through the questions he asks customers who call us for advice on choosing the best sun tunnel for their home or office.

Over to Tyler.

Let's Talk...Sun Tunnels!

So, one of the rooms in your house could do with a bit more light, but a window is not really what you had in mind. Or maybe, due to the position of the room, you can't fit vertical or roof windows. Sun tunnels are perfect for flooding light into the most awkward of areas.

Now you’ve established that a sun tunnel is the solution for you and your home, you’re met with a string of choices: size, rigid or flexible, brand. What do you go for? I talk about these factors in the following information in the hope that I can help you decide which sun tunnel is best for brightening up your home. You get more light through a rigid tube than a flexible one. 

First things first...

Do I Need a Rigid or Flexible Tube?

If you have a short, straight distance from your roof top to the ceiling, opt for a rigid tunnel. If you have a longer distance or need to get around your watertank, choose a flexible one. Unless you will be installing it on a flat roof extension or garage, then you'll need a flat roof sun tunnel

Rigid vs flexible sun tube

The most important difference (apart from distance and obstacles) is that a rigid sun tunnel will give you substantially more light than a flexible sun tunnel.

This is because the light is able to bounce more in a flexible tube, and every time light bounces it loses a percentage of its intensity. As the flexible tubing has bends and the material isn’t as smooth-surfaced, light bounces much more. If there isn’t a need for massive amounts of light and you can sacrifice a percentage just to get light into the room (for example a basement room, where natural light is hard to gain access to) a flexible tube has its advantages. The tube is more manoeuvrable for when the installation isn’t as simple as a straight line from the roof to the room’s ceiling.

What Size Do I Need?

Here’s the part that causes a lot of confusion with our customers – what size would be best for the project you have?

I've created a friendly guide below, where each lightbulb represents the amount of light that is entering your room through your sun tunnel on cloudy and sunny days. Each lightbulb represents a 100W bulb. This chart is based on for the Lightway sun tunnels but it will give a general idea of how powerful sun tunnels are when it comes to brightening your home.

How much daylight does a sun tunnel add?How much light will a sun tunnel add to my room?

Do I Have a Domed or Flat Panel Finish?

You’ll see some brands’ sun tunnels have a dome (in the image below) that sits on top of the roof whereas others have a flat panel. The panels are stylish, almost flush with the roof and can be installed to match existing windows. Domes look the part, sitting proudly above the tiles/slates and standing out as a feature on your roof… But what difference does either one actually make?

Crystal domes reflect more sunlight into your home

There is only one important thing to note here, and that is how light reflects off a flat surface but refracts when it meets a clear dome. This means once the light hits the flat panel, some of the light is lost by means of reflection. It’s only good news for domes here because they actually refract the light inwards and so capture extra light compared to their counterparts.

For something special, take a look at our range of well-priced Lightway Bohemian crystal domed sun tunnels. They're so good, our managing director installed one in his home.

Which Manufacturer Should I Choose?

There are more than 30 sun tunnel manufacturers globally, so which one is best for you without you spending too much for the product? You’ll see some brands you recognise, such as VELUX, and others that are less recognisable, so what’s your best option? We have already filtered your options down to 4 superb brands which won't leave you disappointed. These are VELUX, FAKRO, Lightway and our own brand of great quality, pocket friendly Sterlingbuild sun tunnels.

Prices do vary for products, and it’s good to browse the whole selection available to you.

What is a solar tube

How Many Do I Need?

Sun tunnels are brilliant for bringing light customisation to rooms, whether you want one large dome in the centre of the room flooding light from one point, or several, smaller domes to illuminate the room in a different way. You can talk to your installer about our options, and of course consult your budget when looking to buy multiple sun tunnels.

Solar tubes will add daylight to your home

I Can't Fit a Sun Tunnel in My Ceiling - What Option Do I Have?

The Lightway F400 vertical sun tunnel. It allows for even more customisation when you’re choosing how to light up your room. Vertical sun tunnels enable you to bring light in from a side wall and illuminate areas in your home that don't receive natural day light, such as basements and ground floor flats. The design of these sun tunnels allows the diffuser to be fixed into a wall so the light does not have to come from the ceiling.

Add daylight to my basement

We're ready when you are!

Sterlingbuild proudly sells a wide range of sun tunnels, so if you are ready to make a step towards buying one of these stylish new windows, we’re ready to help however we can.

Please do not hesitate to call us on our local rate number 01304 219 922 (Monday to Friday between 8.00 and 17:30).

About the author:

Tyler of SterlingbuildTyler joined the Sterlingbuild team in 2015. He's fast become an expert in all things sun tunnels, as well as the other products we sell on the website. His favourite thing about working at Sterlingbuild is the great atmosphere where "everyone is there to support each other and get the best results for the customers as an entire team". In his spare time, Tyler's a musician and sports enthusiast.