Sunlight is channeled through your roof structure via solar tubes, sometimes called tubular skylights or sun tunnels, to create natural lighting. Solar tubes are suitable for a wide range of house applications because of their smaller design in comparison to typical skylights. Natural lighting can help you save money on electricity because it is more cost-effective and of greater quality than artificial lighting.

The Guides Home Team will explain all you need to know about solar tube lighting in this post so you can determine if it’s a good fit for your house. Continue reading to find out about solar tube costs, how they work, and whether they are worth the investment. 

the image illustrating the concept of a solar tube in a house

What Is a Solar Tube And How Does It Work?

Solar tubes are a type of natural lighting that can help brighten your home, much like a skylight. To put it simply, a solar tube is an apparatus that joins the inside surface of your ceiling to the external surface of your roof. They are able to collect sunlight from any direction because of their internally polished and reflective surface. Here is a brief explanation of how solar tubes function:

  • A waterproof acrylic dome or clear cap covers the upper entrance of a solar tube. 
  • There is a diffuser in the lower hole that leads to the interior of your house, distributing light evenly.

Tubular skylights can appear to have the same bottom ends as conventional lighting fixtures at first glance. They are a great alternative for houses whose architectural design does not lend themselves to traditional skylights.

Using solar tubes to provide free daytime lighting can help you use less electricity. However, because solar tubes require sunshine to function, you will require an electric lighting system for cloudy and dark days. To save even more energy, you can pair LED lighting with solar tubes. The highest level of energy efficiency is provided by LED lighting fixtures, which may save more than 30% and 80% of the energy used by halogen and compact fluorescent lights, respectively.

Additionally, tubular skylights and residential solar panels can work in harmony. While solar panels produce energy from the sun to power your home’s appliances, gadgets, and lighting, solar tubes can help you save money on lighting. Check out our guide to the best solar suppliers if you’re thinking about switching to solar power.

the image depicting the "Pros and Cons of Solar Tube Lighting" for Shumaker Roofing

Pros and Cons of Solar Tube Lighting

Like any other lighting system, tubular skylights have advantages and disadvantages. Although solar tubes offer natural lighting and can reduce your electricity expenses, you should be aware of their limitations.


Energy savings: By enabling you to turn off your lighting fixtures throughout the day, solar tubes can help you save money on your electricity bill.

Superior lighting: Natural sunlight not only costs nothing but also produces light with a superior optical quality than that of artificial lighting fixtures.

Compact, low-profile design: Sun tubes can be used in houses and structures that are too small to accommodate huge, square-shaped skylights. Installing sun tunnels might also be less invasive on the drywall and construction of your house because of their lower size.

Easy maintenance: Although the waterproof top on tubular skylights keeps water from leaking out, you still need to keep an eye out for items like leaves that could cover your sun tubes and obstruct sunlight.

Cost-effective: Our market research indicates that there are solar tube lighting choices that can be installed for less than $500.

No glare effects: Staring straight at the sun can cause eye strain and damage. However, because sun tunnels reflect and diffuse light, this is not an issue.


Sunlight dependent: You cannot rely only on solar tubes for lighting because natural sunlight is scarce throughout the night and completely absent on overcast days. It is also necessary to use conventional lighting fixtures.

Not appropriate for every kind of roof: Sun tubes are meant to be fitted on a range of roof pitches; they are often not ideal for high-pitched or flat roofs.

Limits on design: Sun tunnels eliminate the Skyview that traditional skylights provide. Additionally, unlike windows, solar tubes cannot be used as a source of fresh air because they are sealed to your roof.

Possible humidity issues: If you reside in an area with high humidity, your tubular skylights may sustain damage from condensation building up inside of them. By encasing your sun tubes in insulation, you can avoid this.

May have an effect on your roof warranty: Since installing a sun tunnel requires altering your roof, it can have an influence on the guarantee that your roofing contractor offers. This may in certain circumstances completely cancel your warranty. 

the image depicting the cost of installing a solar tube

Cost of Installing a Solar Tube

While some sun tunnels may be installed by amateurs, others need to be put up by specialists. The cost estimates below are derived from market research conducted by our team:

  • For about $500, you can get DIY solar tube kits.
  • Should you opt for a professional installation, the cost may rise to approximately $1,000.
  • In contrast, the cost of a conventional square skylight might reach up to $2,000.

The primary drawback of installing solar tubes yourself is the possibility of voiding your roof guarantee. Before installing any tubular skylights yourself, get in touch with your roofing supplier. If you want to hire a professional installer, your provider may be able to preserve your guarantee. Asking whether your supplier provides solar tube installation services is another option.

DIY solar tubes are often made for a particular kind of roof. For instance, you cannot install a tubular skylight intended for asphalt shingles on a roof made of sheet metal or ceramic tile.

If you have an expert installation, you can also be eligible for higher warranty terms from the producer of solar tubes. A minimum of ten years of warranty coverage is available, contingent upon the model and brand of the sun tunnel. Safety is also another justification for hiring a professional installer. Even if you buy a do-it-yourself solar tube, you will still need to climb onto your roof to complete the installation.

You can also receive the federal solar tax credit for solar panels if your tubular skylights meet the ENERGY STAR requirements. But there’s a significant distinction:

  • With the credit, you can deduct up to 30% of the cost of your solar system from your federal taxes. 
  • Although you are still eligible to receive up to 30% of the project cost, skylights have a $600 maximum incentive.

the image showcasing the concept of solar tubes installed on a roof in a suburban home

Are Solar Tubes Worth It?

For homes and buildings that need to be lit brightly all day, solar tubes are an affordable lighting option. Even when compared to the greatest light bulbs available, natural lighting is still far superior to any artificial source. Solar tubes provide a simple solution for adding light to your home’s smaller, darker areas, such as the laundry room, closets, and bathrooms.

Sun tunnels might not be cost-effective for homeowners who leave their houses frequently during the day. Solar tunnels can reduce your electricity costs by utilizing natural light, but this may not be significant if you turn off your lights when you’re not at home. People choose traditional skylights and solar tubes for their aesthetic value rather than their ability to save electricity.

A do-it-yourself solar tube should cost about $500, and hiring a professional installer will run you about $1,000. However, there are a number of advantages to spending a little more for a simple installation carried out by experts: 

  • Reduces the possibility of causing water leaks or harming your roof. 
  • Should you install solar tubes yourself, your roofing supplier may terminate your active roof warranty. 
  • Because of the height of your roof, DIY installations may be dangerous.

Considerations When Choosing Between Skylights and Solar Tubes

The cost of traditional skylights is significantly higher; in certain cases, it might surpass $2,000. On the other hand, they can enhance your interior design by giving key spaces like your living room an abundance of natural light and a clear view of the sky.

Keep in mind that skylights supplement conventional lighting fixtures; they do not entirely replace them, regardless of the style chosen. Artificial lighting is still necessary during the night and on overcast days when sunlight is limited.

Installing solar tubes might not be the greatest solution if your aging roof needs to be replaced soon. During the roof replacement, you will have to take the sun tunnels down and put them back in, which can break the tubes or void the guarantee.


Using solar tubes, you may transform the way you light your house by adding natural lighting to your living areas. Solar tubes provide a more economical and environmentally responsible option to traditional lighting by bringing the warmth and brightness of daylight within, which lowers electricity costs while improving ambiance. The Guides Home Team’s thorough insights give you the information you need to make well-informed judgments about adding solar tube lighting to your area. Accept the revolutionary potential of solar tubes and uncover a more promising and eco-friendly future for your house. With solar tubes, you can wave goodbye to poorly lit spaces and hello to the bright glow of natural light.

FAQs: Solar Tubes Explained 2024

  1. What exactly are solar tubes, and how do they work? 
    • Solar tubes, also known as tubular skylights or sun tunnels, channel natural sunlight through your roof structure to provide interior illumination. They feature a design that collects sunlight from various angles and channels it into your living space through a diffuser, offering an eco-friendly and cost-effective lighting solution. 
  2. What are the advantages of using solar tubes compared to traditional lighting options? 
    • Solar tubes offer numerous benefits, including energy savings, superior lighting quality, compact design suitable for various roof types, and minimal maintenance requirements. They provide an affordable way to brighten up spaces while reducing reliance on artificial lighting. 
  3. What do solar tubes installation costs entail? 
    • Factors such as size, complexity, and the choice of professional installation can influence the cost of installing solar tubes.DIY kits may cost around $500, while professional installation can range up to $1,000, offering flexibility to accommodate different budgets and preferences. 
  4. Are there any limitations or drawbacks to using solar tubes? 
    • While solar tubes offer many benefits, it’s essential to consider factors such as reliance on sunlight, limitations in design options compared to traditional skylights, and potential humidity issues in high-humidity regions. Understanding these limitations can help homeowners make informed decisions. 
  5. Are solar tubes worth the investment for my home? 
    • Whether solar tubes are worth the investment depends on various factors, including your lighting needs, budget, and home design. While they can provide significant energy savings and enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home, it’s essential to weigh these factors against potential drawbacks and consult with experts to determine the best lighting solution for your specific situation.