The Downfalls of Tubular Daylighting Devices for Industrial Buildings

By Torrin Greathouse | July 24, 2015

There are many unique technologies in the field of daylighting, each with their own unique benefits and disadvantages. One of the most common among these systems are tubular daylighting devices, which use flexible light tubes to bring light into a building. While they offer undeniable benefits for certain facilities, these devices face several constraints that limit their efficiency in large industrial buildings.

Light Intensity Issues

Because of their size, most industrial spaces require intense, diffuse light to keep them properly illuminated. While tubular skylights’ design allows them to penetrate further into buildings than most skylights, circumventing HVAC piping and other obstructions, their light tubes can reduce the intensity of light a room receives. Even with the sunlight entering at an optimal angle, tubular daylighting devices experience a 3% loss in intensity for every 10 feet the light travels through the tube. In cases where these tubes must be angled around obstructions, the loss of intensity can be even greater, resulting in inconsistent, low intensity light.

Number of Devices Required

When installing daylighting devices in a facility, it is essential to make sure you are installing enough devices to evenly light the entire area. Many skylight manufacturers can provide potential customers with a detailed layout of their facility detailing how many skylight units are needed to provide adequate lighting. Tubular daylighting devices commonly have an opening of only around 10-21 inches in diameter, as opposed to other skylights which are usually between 2 and 8 feet across. While this compact design makes them easier to install, more devices are needed to sufficiently light a space. According to statistics from the National Fenestration Rating Council tubular devices require 5-10% of the space on a roof to provide adequate light. In large industrial constructions, this leads to installing a greater number of devices to illuminate the space.

Alternate Solutions for Industrial Structures

Because of these limitations, tubular daylighting devices are not optimal for use in industrial buildings. However, there are other daylighting systems better suited for these kinds of installations.

Ciralight produces the SunTracker, a cutting edge solar tracking skylight. This advanced system combines solar-power and GPS technology to illuminate a building with natural sunlight for up to 10.5 hours a day.

To learn more about how to select the right daylighting system for your industrial building, download our latest eBook or contact our sales team today.

(Photo: The Climate Group, CC.)

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