Friday, September 11, 2009

Light Up a Room: Tubular Lighting

Imagine if you could bring natural light to a hallway, bathroom, or walk-in closet that gets little or no natural light. Warm sunlight delivered to a dark spot in your house? The answer is tubular daylighting.

Also called natural lighting, tubular daylighting is essentially a skylight tube that captures light from all angles with an inner prismatic lens (or fly-eye), focuses it down a reflective tube, then evenly spreads it throughout the room with a second prismatic diffuser lens.

As you’d expect, many tubular daylighting companies are based in the sunbelt. Three major players are Solatube of Vista, CA, Dayliteco of Ventura, CA, and Natural Lighting Company of Glendale, AZ.

Because their products deliver plenty of light, even on gray days, these manufacturers have dealers in cloudier regions such as Washington State (NW Natural Lighting) and New Jersey (Creative Energy Technologies).

Of course, natural lighting is not a replacement for lighting at night, but it can work to complement electric lights, reducing energy costs. If you’re wondering whether it makes sense to tear up your roof to add a lighting system, consider the fact that the tubing will fit between rafters and can be installed easily without any structural modification.

At a typical cost of $300-400 plus installation, tubular daylights are not cheap, but as with all household improvements, the real question involves return on investment. The energy savings of natural lighting can pay for the product and installation expense in as little as two to three years. And if that seems too long to you, some companies offer leasing options.

Although often marketed to homeowners for residential use, natural lighting also offers excellent cost savings for commercial properties and educational institutions, where most activity occurs during the day. According to California Green Solutions, lighting alone can account for 20-50% of a commercial building’s energy costs. And in the case of certain building designs, it is possible to compensate with natural lighting for as much as 90% of electrical lighting costs during daylight hours.

So look around your house. Got a nook or cranny that would be cheered up with natural light? Maybe it’s time to get tubular.

(Article courtesy of:

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