Sun tunnels are a fantastic substitute for conventional skylights in homes looking to bring in more natural light. These skylights, which go by the names solar tubes or sun pipes, have several advantages over other types of skylights, including general usefulness, cost-effectiveness, and energy efficiency.

Small areas where a standard fixed skylight might not be practical or possible, like restrooms, closets, and dim hallways, are perfect for sun tunnel installations. Learn more about your skylight alternatives by reading on, and get a free sun tunnel estimate by getting in touch with Shumaker Roofing right now! 

image depicting a sun tunnel installation for Shumaker Roofing.

What is a Sun Tunnel?

A sun tunnel, also known as a solar tube, is an innovative feature designed to channel natural sunlight directly from your roof into your home. This system utilizes highly reflective tubes and mirrors to efficiently transport light, even through narrow or confined spaces. Unlike larger, more traditional skylights, sun tunnels are compact and discrete, making them perfect for illuminating smaller areas that lack natural light. This makes them an excellent choice for enhancing brightness in dim hallways, bathrooms, or closets, providing a natural and energy-efficient lighting solution.

image comparing a skylight and a sun tunnel

Skylight  Vs. Sun Tunnel

Sun tunnels offer a versatile and straightforward installation alternative to traditional fixed skylights, which are typically larger and involve a more complex setup. Perfect for illuminating interior spaces such as hallways and rooms that lack direct access to natural sunlight, sun tunnels flexibly integrate into various parts of your home. Their design allows for quick installation, bringing natural light into areas that fixed skylights might not be able to reach due to their size and structural demands. This makes sun tunnels an excellent choice for enhancing light in less accessible areas of your home.

Sun Tunnels Are Ideal for Small Areas

Sun tunnels offer an excellent solution for illuminating smaller areas like bathrooms, closets, and hallways with natural light. These innovative fixtures are highly valued for their adaptability and straightforward installation process, making them a favorite choice among homeowners. By integrating sun tunnels into your living spaces, you can enjoy enhanced lighting that brightens up even the most compact areas. This not only improves the ambiance but also adds a touch of modern efficiency to your home, all while keeping the installation hassle to a minimum.

Enhancing Natural Light and Raising the Value of Your House

Sun tunnels offer an affordable solution for enhancing natural light in your home, potentially increasing its market value and attractiveness to future buyers. This upgrade is not just about aesthetics; the infusion of natural light can also elevate moods and transform the ambiance of your living spaces. By introducing sun tunnels, you’re investing in a feature that not only brightens your home but also provides long-term benefits should you choose to sell. This makes them a smart, cost-effective addition that can have a substantial impact on both the feel and financial appeal of your property.

Reducing Energy Use Using Sun Tunnel Skylights

Sun tunnels, an eco-friendly solution for home lighting, are designed to harness natural light, channeling it directly into your living spaces. This innovative technology significantly reduces your reliance on electrical lighting during daylight hours, offering a sustainable way to brighten your home. By integrating sun tunnels, you can achieve lower energy consumption and enjoy cost savings on your electricity bills. Their ability to provide abundant, natural illumination not only enhances the ambiance of your interiors but also contributes to energy efficiency, making them an advantageous addition to any eco-conscious household.

image depicting how a sun tunnel works, showing its installation and function

How Does a Sun Tunnel Work?

A sun tunnel harnesses natural sunlight through a domed collector mounted on the roof, channeling it inside your home via highly reflective ducts. This innovative system comprises three primary elements: a rooftop dome that captures sunlight, mirrored tubes that transport this light efficiently, and a diffuser positioned on your ceiling, which disperses the light evenly into the room of your choice. This eco-friendly solution brightens interiors with natural light, enhancing the ambiance and reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day.

Bringing in Natural Light to Your House

Sun tunnels are an economical and environmentally friendly source of light because they employ reflecting surfaces to collect and reflect natural sunlight into your home. The majority of homeowners adore sun tunnels’ adaptability because, with expert installation, they may be placed in almost any area!

Parts of a Solar Tunnel

The three primary parts of a sun tunnel that enable it to receive natural light are mirrored ducts for light transfer, a diffuser mounted on the ceiling of the intended area to showcase the natural light, and a dome-shaped flashing erected on the roof to “catch” the sunshine.

Dome and Flashing on the Roof

Sun tunnels begin on the roof of your house with a sturdy, sealed dome and flashing system. Sunlight is captured by the dome and directed into the mirrored ducts below, where it is distributed throughout your house. The flashing kit serves as protection for the junction where the dome and roofing material meet.

Mirrored Ducts to Transfer Light

By directing sunlight from the roof to the diffuser positioned on the ceiling in the room of your choice. The mirrored ducts work as the real “tunnel.” These might be flexible or rigid tunnels, based on the design and architecture of your house. The distinction between rigid and flexible sun tunnel types will be discussed in more detail later in this post. 

Ceiling-Mounted Diffuser in Your Desired Room

A sun tunnel’s light diffuser is an essential component installed on the ceiling for efficiency. Disperse natural light throughout your chosen space. This feature captures and spreads daylight, enhancing the brightness and ambiance of any room without straying from its primary purpose.

image showcasing different types of sun tunnel options for roofs.

Which Types of Sun Tunnel Options Are There?

Rigid and flexible sun tunnels are the two main varieties of sun tunnel alternatives. You may read more about each of them below. They each provide homeowners with particular advantages.

Rigid Tunnels for Access

For projects where the ceiling diffuser—the point at which light enters the room. Is directly below or very near to the roof dome, rigid tunnels are perfect.

These tunnels are stiff, straight segments that can only bend slightly to fit within your house. These tubes are composed of a solid metal with ribs that enable the tube to bend and angle in different places. 

Flexible Tunnels for Difficult Access

Flexible tunnels are perfect for locations where the ceiling diffuser is hard to access or far from the roof dome.

They have a metal wire frame and a flexible tube encircled with a reflective substance. Once installed, you won’t be able to distinguish between the different types of tunnels.


Sun tunnels represent a transformative solution for incorporating natural light into various areas of your home, from small. Difficult-to-reach spaces to larger communal areas. By opting for sun tunnels, homeowners can enjoy the benefits of natural lighting—enhanced ambiance, reduced energy costs, and increased property value. Whether you choose rigid or flexible tunnels, the impact of this sustainable technology is profound. Providing a bright and eco-friendly future for your home.

FAQs: Sun Tunnels as an Alternative to Skylights

1. What exactly is a sun tunnel and how does it function?

  • A sun tunnel, also known as a solar tube, channels natural light from the roof into the interior of a building through a reflective tube. It consists of a rooftop dome that captures sunlight and directs it through a tube lined with reflective material. Culminating in a diffuser that spreads the light evenly into the room below.

2. How do sun tunnels compare to traditional skylights in terms of benefits?

  • Sun tunnels are more cost-effective and easier to install than traditional skylights. They are especially useful for illuminating smaller or hard-to-reach areas where traditional skylights are not practical. Additionally, sun tunnels are more energy-efficient, minimizing heat loss and gain due to their smaller size and sealed design.

3. Can you install sun tunnels on any type of roof?

  • Yes, you can install sun tunnels on most roof types, whether flat or sloped. And they are compatible with a variety of roofing materials. The complexity and cost of the installation might vary based on the roof’s structure and material.

4. How much light do sun tunnels provide?

  • The amount of light provided by a sun tunnel depends on the tube’s diameter, its length. The reflective quality of the tube’s interior, and the installation’s geographic location. For example, a 10-inch diameter tunnel can typically illuminate up to 200 square feet. While a 14-inch tunnel might light up to 300 square feet.

5. What maintenance do sun tunnels require?

  • Sun tunnels require minimal maintenance. You should occasionally clean the exterior dome to remove any obstructions such as dirt or snow. Regularly checking for any damage to the dome or tube and ensuring that seals and joints are airtight is also important to prevent leaks.