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How Daylighting Devices Work


The Cost of Daylight
Companies like SolaTube offer daylighting devices for residential homes, commercial businesses and even schools.
Companies like SolaTube offer daylighting devices for residential homes, commercial businesses and even schools.

So how much do daylighting devices cost? The honest answer is that it all depends on what you need and the vendor you use. Solatube offers several models of daylighting devices for homeowners and professionals. In addition to the basic devices, the company produces specialized diffusers, roof mounts, effect lenses, dimmer switches and light kits. The light kits allow you to mount an incandescent bulb in the daylighting device to provide light from the same fixture after the sun goes down.

The price of the daylighting device changes as you add more options. It also increases as the length of the transmission tube increases. If you only need a couple of feet of tubing, you'll spend much less than someone who needs 20 feet (6.1 meters) or more. In addition, if you need special tube sections to work your way around obstacles like support beams, you can bet that it's going to cost you extra.

On top of the parts cost are the installation fees. Solatube claims that most professionals can install a daylighting device within a couple of hours. Do-it-yourselfers might need a full day to put a daylighting device in place. Either way, you're going to incur some installation costs. You'll need to pay for labor or you'll need to invest in the right tools to put a device together.

To give you an idea of how much a daylighting device can cost we'll look at an example. Solabrite, a Solatube dealer, offers two Solatube daylighting device models for homeowners. They sell the 10-inch (25.4 centimeter) Solatube 160 DS for $649. The 290 DS, which is 14 inches (35.6 centimeters) in diameter, goes for $749. For both models, the price includes up to four feet of transmission tube. Longer tubes will cost more. If you want a daylight dimmer, that option will add $325 to $335 to the price tag, depending on the model. Prices include installation fees. If you want to tackle the project on your own, the cost is significantly lower.

This illustration shows how SolaTube's butterfly dimmer device can limit the light coming into your house.
This illustration shows how SolaTube's butterfly dimmer device can limit the light coming into your house.

­According to Solatube, one cost you won't have to worry about is replacing your furniture. The ultraviolet rays in sunlight can cause fabric colors to fade after prolonged exposure. But the lenses and diffuser in Solatube's devices filter out most of the UV radiation. While you'll get the benefit of sunlight exposure, you won't have to worry about colors fading or getting a sunburn.

The initial installation expenses may be worth it if your electricity bills are high. You won't have to purchase light bulbs as often, reducing costs even further. It may take a few months or longer to pay off the purchase, but ultimately daylighting devices will pay for themselves. And you'll be reducing your carbon footprint in the process!

As the green movement continues to gather support, we'll likely see more lighting solutions that take advantage of natural source­s. Who knows? In a few years, we may all be enjoying the benefits of sunlight even if we spend most of our time indoors.

To learn more about daylighting devices and related topics, take a look at the links on the following page.