Embarking on the renovation journey of our windowless boys’ bathroom, we encountered a pivotal design choice that would redefine the space’s ambiance: the installation of a sun tunnel. Initially, I harbored skepticism regarding its potential impact, particularly as I had envisioned a traditional skylight. However, the subsequent transformation surpassed my expectations, imbuing the room with newfound vitality and luminosity. Here, I delve into the rationale behind incorporating a sun tunnel and the invaluable insights gleaned throughout the process.

Sun tunnel in a ceiling, illuminating a modern room

What Is A Sun Tunnel? 

Delving into the realm of sun tunnels unveils a transformative concept in interior illumination. These ingenious devices, epitomized by the variant we have employed, represent tubular skylights engineered to infuse interior spaces with natural radiance. At their core, sun tunnels comprise a flat glass or, in our specific case, a domed exterior flashing. This component seamlessly interfaces with a highly-reflective rigid tube, strategically traversing the expanse of your attic.

The Anatomy of Sun Tunnels: Shedding Light on Structure

Central to the functionality of a sun tunnel is its meticulously crafted design. The chosen variant, featuring a 14″ configuration, exemplifies the optimal blend of efficiency and efficacy. Within this construct, a 10″ or 14″ diffuser, affixed to the interior terminus, punctuates the ceiling of the targeted room. This architectural marvel serves as a conduit for the transmission of sunlight, harnessing its luminous energy and channeling it with precision into the designated space.

A comparison of a sun tunnel and a skylight

Illuminating Your Space: Sun Tunnel vs. Skylight 

When considering how to brighten up a room, the choice between a sun tunnel and a skylight is pivotal. Each option comes with its unique set of advantages and considerations, influencing the ambiance and functionality of your space.

Delving into Sun Tunnels 

Sun tunnels, also known as tubular daylighting devices, offer a discreet yet effective means of bringing natural light into a room. Consisting of a small, dome-like structure on the roof and a reflective tube that channels sunlight into the interior, sun tunnels are adept at illuminating even the darkest corners of a space.

In essence, sun tunnels serve as conduits for sunlight, harnessing its brilliance and distributing it throughout the room with precision. This method not only minimizes the need for artificial lighting but also creates a dynamic interplay between light and shadow, enhancing the overall atmosphere.

Unraveling the Advantages

One of the primary advantages of sun tunnels lies in their versatility and adaptability to various architectural styles and spaces. Whether installed in a compact bathroom or a sprawling living area, sun tunnels seamlessly integrate into the structure without imposing significant alterations.

Moreover, sun tunnels excel in areas where traditional skylights may not be feasible or practical. Their compact size and flexible installation process make them ideal for rooms with limited roof space or complex configurations, offering a viable alternative for homeowners seeking to maximize natural light without compromising structural integrity.

Navigating the Decision Process 

When contemplating between a sun tunnel and a skylight, it’s essential to assess the specific requirements and nuances of your space. Consider factors such as room size, roof orientation, and desired lighting effect to determine the most suitable option for your needs.

Furthermore, consulting with experienced installers can provide valuable insights and recommendations tailored to your unique circumstances. By leveraging their expertise, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your aesthetic preferences, functional objectives, and budgetary constraints.

Why a Skylight Wasn’t the Right Option for the Bathroom 

When contemplating the illumination of spaces within our homes, the allure of a skylight often captures our imagination. However, the decision to incorporate such a feature demands careful consideration, especially in environments with unique architectural constraints. In this discourse, we delve into the intricacies of why a skylight wasn’t deemed suitable for the bathroom, exploring the challenges posed by the attic space above and the implications for design and functionality.

Challenges of Attic Space

The attic space above the bathroom presents a formidable obstacle to the installation of a skylight. With a towering height of nearly 15 feet, the endeavor would necessitate a labor-intensive process involving extensive framing, insulation, and drywall work. Such an undertaking aims to establish a lightwell extending from the bathroom ceiling to the roof, a feat demanding meticulous craftsmanship and resources.

Implications of Extensive Lightwell 

In the realm of architectural endeavors, the creation of a vast lightwell encircling the skylight entails significant financial investment. In the context of our project, the prospect of constructing such an expansive feature proved prohibitively costly. Moreover, the diminutive dimensions of the bathroom exacerbated the issue, as the imposing presence of the lightwell would overwhelm the limited space, disrupting the aesthetic harmony and functionality of the room.

Maintenance Challenges

Beyond the realm of aesthetics, practical considerations regarding maintenance loom large. The intricate web of challenges associated with keeping the lightwell free of cobwebs poses a formidable task. The meticulous upkeep required to preserve the pristine allure of the skylight detracts from its desirability, underscoring the importance of pragmatic decision-making in design endeavors.

Skylight Pros: 

Illuminating Perspectives 

Despite the limitations encountered in our specific context, it is imperative to acknowledge the merits of skylights in suitable applications. These luminous apertures offer a panoramic view of the celestial expanse, infusing interiors with the ethereal glow of natural daylight. Particularly conducive to spaces with sloped ceilings or minimal attic clearance, skylights transcend mere functionality to evoke a sense of transcendent beauty within the built environment.

Enhancing Spatial Dynamics 

Moreover, skylights possess the transformative capacity to imbue compact spaces with a sense of expansiveness. By channeling daylight into confined quarters, these architectural marvels create an illusion of spaciousness, enriching the living experience and fostering a harmonious interplay between form and function.

Ventilation and Fresh Air 

In addition to their illuminating prowess, skylights offer the added benefit of facilitating ventilation and airflow. Models equipped with operable features enable the ingress of fresh air, promoting a conducive indoor environment conducive to health and well-being. This symbiotic fusion of aesthetic appeal and practical utility underscores the multifaceted allure of skylights in architectural discourse.

Skylight Cons: 

Navigating Obstacles

However, the integration of skylights is not devoid of challenges, particularly in contexts characterized by towering attic spaces. The exigencies of extensive framing and construction to accommodate the requisite lightwell pose formidable logistical hurdles, complicating the installation process and necessitating a substantial investment of time and resources.

Financial Considerations 

Furthermore, the financial implications of skylight installation cannot be understated, especially when juxtaposed with alternative lighting solutions such as sun tunnels. The heightened cost, invasive nature, and protracted installation timeline inherent to skylights render them a less viable option in scenarios where pragmatic considerations reign supreme.

Architectural Visibility 

Moreover, the conspicuous presence of skylights on the exterior roofline can detract from the architectural integrity of the structure. In contrast to the understated elegance of sun tunnels, skylights assert a more pronounced visual impact, necessitating judicious deliberation to ensure harmonious integration with the overall design aesthetic.

Why was a Sun Tunnel a Great Solution? 

Initially skeptical, the concept of Velux sun tunnels was presented to me by multiple installers. However, delving deeper into the rationale behind their recommendation shed light on their efficacy as an alternative to traditional skylights. Employing a rigid reflective tube, sun tunnels possess the ability to traverse extended distances while circumventing obstructions. Moreover, their installation necessitates only a diminutive aperture in both the ceiling and roof, thus mitigating the construction labor and effort required.

Sun Tunnel Pros: 

Economical Illumination Enhancement

Sun tunnels emerge as a relatively economical means to infuse natural sunlight into dimly lit rooms and interior spaces. Particularly invaluable in scenarios where incorporating conventional windows or skylights proves either structurally or financially impractical, sun tunnels offer a pragmatic solution.

Elegant Illumination Integration 

Distinguished by a sleek, low-profile design, the flat roof glass and interior diffuser seamlessly introduce light without imposing a visually intrusive architectural element. Facilitating optimal positioning within the designated space, the tunnel’s interior and exterior reflectors possess the flexibility to adjust off-alignment.

Effulgent Efficiency 

Harnessing the phenomenon of light bouncing within its highly reflective tube, sun tunnels yield a substantial luminous output despite their modest 10-14″ diameter apertures.

Sun Tunnel Cons: 

Indirect Illumination 

Contrary to skylights that afford a direct vista of the sky, sun tunnels diffuse light through their highly reflective tubes, thereby casting a softer, albeit less immersive, luminosity.

Ventilation Void 

Devoid of the capacity for ventilation, sun tunnels preclude the option to introduce “fresh air” into the designated space.

Unyielding Radiance

Lacking provisions for light obstruction through blinds or curtains, the perpetual presence of bright light within the space necessitates careful consideration of its location and the individual’s tolerance for prolonged illumination.

Navigating the Shadows: Addressing Concerns 

Climate Considerations 

Anecdotal evidence surfaced on social media regarding condensation issues in sun tunnels, particularly in regions experiencing extreme cold like Canada. However, comprehensive inquiries with local Certified Installers assuaged such apprehensions, affirming the absence of such issues in our prospective installation. With due diligence exercised and risks mitigated, confidence was restored in proceeding with the installation process.

Sun tunnel with sunlight streaming into a bright room

Comprehensive Guide to Choosing a Sun Tunnel

Types of Sun Tunnels 

When selecting a sun tunnel, it’s crucial to consider the various types available. Opting for a flat glass exterior piece can offer a sleek, low-profile design, minimizing its impact on your home’s aesthetic compared to an acrylic dome.

Installation Considerations 

Installing a sun tunnel can present challenges depending on your roof type. For instance, traditional shingle roofs typically simplify installation processes. Factors such as the ability to cut the hole for the tunnel should also be assessed beforehand.

Tube Selection: Rigid vs. Flexible 

The choice between a rigid tube and a flexible tube hinges on the vertical span from your ceiling to the roof. For extensive spans, like those from a bathroom ceiling to the roof through an attic, a rigid tube is often more suitable. Conversely, shorter distances may accommodate a flexible tube effectively.

Placement and Aesthetic Integration 

Consider the placement of the sun tunnel relative to your home’s layout. Opting to position the tunnel outlet on a less visible side, such as the rear facade rather than the street-facing front, can enhance aesthetic integration.

Maximizing Sunlight Capture 

Collaborate closely with your installer to optimize the sun tunnel’s placement on your roof. Strategically positioning it to capture morning sunlight, for example, can introduce beautiful natural light into your home.

Choosing the Right Size Sun Tunnel for Your Project 

When considering the size of a sun tunnel for your project, it’s crucial to select the diameter that best suits your space and requirements. Here’s a breakdown to guide you through the decision-making process:

Assessing Spacing Compatibility 
  • Evaluate the spacing of your ceiling joists and roof rafters to determine the ideal diameter for your sun tunnel.

  • Our experience with the Velux 14″ sun tunnel showcased its compatibility with our ceiling joists and roof rafters, providing an optimal fit for our project.

  • Keep in mind that sun tunnels are available in various diameters, including 10″, offering flexibility to accommodate different spacing requirements.
Exploring Size Options
  • Consider the available size options to find the best match for your project.

  • While our choice of the 14″ diameter sun tunnel suited our needs, Velux also offers a 10″ diameter option, which may be more suitable depending on your spacing constraints.

  • Opting for a smaller size can offer versatility by allowing you to adjust the location within a joist bay, aligning it with other elements in the room for a cohesive layout.
Enhancing Alignment Possibilities
  • A smaller diameter sun tunnel opens up possibilities for precise alignment within your space.

  • For instance, with our 14″ diameter sun tunnel, we were able to slightly offset its position on the vanity, demonstrating the flexibility afforded by different sizes.

  • By strategically positioning the sun tunnel, you can align it with other architectural features or design elements, optimizing both aesthetic appeal and functionality.

Cost of Installation 

Determining Installation Costs 

The expense of installing a Velux sun tunnel varies widely, typically falling between $625 and $2,150, as indicated on the official Velux website. Our recent project incurred a total cost of $1,500, covering both the product and labor. This amount also encompassed a robust 20-year warranty for the tunnel, covering both the product itself and the labor involved in its installation.

Factors Influencing Costs 

Several factors influence the final cost of installing a Velux sun tunnel. These include the size of the tunnel, the complexity of installation due to roof type and accessibility, additional accessories chosen (such as blinds or diffusers), and local labor rates.

Product and Labor Breakdown 

In our case, the $1,500 expense was broken down into $900 for the product and $600 for the labor. Velux sun tunnels are renowned for their quality and durability, making them a cost-effective investment over the long term.

Warranty Considerations

Velux provides a substantial 20-year warranty that covers both the sun tunnel itself and the labor involved in its installation. This warranty ensures peace of mind and reflects Velux’s confidence in the reliability of their products.

Modern room with a sun tunnel providing natural light

Maximizing Natural Light with Sun Tunnels 

Adding natural light to interior spaces can transform them from dull and gloomy to vibrant and inviting. Sun tunnels, also known as solar tubes or tubular skylights, offer a solution by channeling sunlight into areas that lack windows or sufficient natural light. But do they truly make a significant difference in brightness? Let’s delve into the details.

Exploring the Impact: Shedding Light on Sun Tunnels

Upon installing a sun tunnel, the immediate impact on light levels can be remarkable. The transformation is often surprising, with previously dim areas now bathed in radiant natural light. Contrary to initial skepticism, the enhancement in brightness can surpass expectations, illuminating spaces that were once shrouded in darkness.

Sun tunnel with solar night light on a modern roof

Federal Clean Energy Tax Credit for Sun Tunnel with Solar Night Light

In the realm of sustainable home lighting solutions, the sun tunnel with a solar night light emerges as a beacon of innovation and efficiency. Beyond its intrinsic eco-friendly appeal, this lighting marvel also opens doors to potential tax benefits, particularly in the United States. Delve into the nuances of the Federal Clean Energy Tax Credit and discover how the integration of a solar night light can amplify both environmental and financial gains.

Understanding the Federal Clean Energy Tax Credit

The Federal Clean Energy Tax Credit stands as a pivotal incentive mechanism designed to promote the adoption of renewable energy solutions. Under this program, eligible homeowners can claim tax credits for qualified expenditures related to clean energy installations, such as solar-powered systems. However, it’s imperative to conduct thorough research or seek professional guidance to ascertain eligibility and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

Exploring the Sun Tunnel with Solar Night Light 

The sun tunnel, a testament to sustainable engineering, epitomizes the fusion of innovation and functionality in modern home design. By harnessing natural sunlight and channeling it into interior spaces, sun tunnels offer a compelling alternative to traditional lighting solutions. Moreover, the incorporation of a solar night light further enhances the allure of this eco-conscious innovation, extending its benefits into the twilight hours.

A worker installing a sun tunnel on a residential rooftop with tools around

Unveiling the Sun Tunnel Installation Experience 

Anticipation and Apprehension 

Awaiting the installation of a sun tunnel during the harsh seasons of the Midwest stirred a blend of impatience and concern within me. The wintry winds and unpredictable springs seemed less than accommodating for such an endeavor. Yet, curiosity about the outcome mingled with apprehension, fostering a sense of eager anticipation.

Efficiency in Action 

The moment the installation team arrived, my skepticism began to dissipate. With remarkable efficiency, they swiftly commenced the task at hand. Within the span of a mere half-day, the sun tunnel found its place, seamlessly integrated into the architecture of our roof. Witnessing their adeptness in action, any lingering doubts were swiftly dispelled.

Minimal Disruption, Maximum Results 

One of the most pleasing surprises was the negligible disruption caused by the installation process. Contrary to my initial fears of a chaotic aftermath, the workspace remained tidy throughout. The meticulous approach of the Velux Certified Installer ensured that the project unfolded with precision, leaving behind no trace of the tumult that often accompanies such endeavors.

A Cut Above the Rest

Entrusting the task to a Velux Certified Installer proved to be a decision well-made. Their expertise and dedication shone through as they skillfully carved a passage through our roof. Though the prospect of piercing such a vital component of our home initially evoked trepidation, the meticulous craftsmanship of the team reassured us that we were in capable hands.

Preliminary Impressions 

As the dust settled and the sun tunnel stood proudly in its newfound position, initial impressions were overwhelmingly positive. The seamless integration into our home’s structure hinted at the transformative potential it held. While uncertainties may have loomed prior to installation, the outcome thus far has been nothing short of promising.


Adding a sun tunnel to our windowless boys’ bathroom brightened it up and made it feel more lively. Through the meticulous installation process and the seamless integration of this innovative lighting solution, we witnessed firsthand the remarkable impact of harnessing sunlight to illuminate interior spaces. Despite doubts at first, the sun tunnel proved to be efficient and affordable, providing a pleasing alternative to regular skylights. As we enjoy the brighter atmosphere in our updated bathroom, we witness how sun tunnels can enhance any room’s mood and usefulness.