What Are the Benefits of Tubular Daylighting Devices?

By Jeff Brain | May 19, 2015

In 2014, the world consumed approximately 412 billion kWh of energy just for lighting. This value has steadily increased from the late nineties and is expected to increase to 4250 TWh by 2030. Using natural light instead of artificial light not only reduces lighting costs for the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors but also has additional financial, physiological, and psychological benefits. There are several different ways to bring natural light into a building. Skylights are one option which come in a range of types including traditional, prismatic, tubular, and solar-tracking skylight. Below we highlight some of the benefits of tubular skylights as well as the disadvantages they present.

Light Tubes Are Energy-Efficient

Of the electricity consumed by lighting in 2014, about 150 billion kWh were consumed by the residential sector. Tubular skylights can reduce this energy consumption significantly. With tubular daylighting devices, you can eliminate dependence on artificial lighting, which uses 11% of energy in residential buildings, and reduce dependence on HVAC, which contributes 41% of the cost of energy in residential buildings, resulting in savings between 50-60% of those costs.

Light Tubes Produce More Light than Traditional Skylights

The design of traditional skylights produces less light than modern tubular lighting devices of the same size. Tubular skylights maximize the light transmitted to the interiors by using special transparent domes. During dawn and dusk, when the sun’s angle is low, the dome of  tubular daylighting devices capture sunlight more efficiently than traditional skylights and allows light to pass through to the interior of a building.

Tubular Skylights Are More Thermally Insulated

One of the biggest concerns with traditional skylights is the lack of thermal insulation. Traditional skylights let more than 70% of external heat into the building. In contrast, tubular skylights are far more energy efficient because of their small size and insulated shaft that prevents heat loss during winter and heat gain during the summer. Apart from meeting lighting requirements for your space, they reduce the strain on HVAC systems which is common with traditional skylights.

Tubular Skylights Carry Light to Lower Floors

Light tubes are applicable in situations where other skylights would not be able to function, such as when the room that needs illuminated is not directly adjacent to the roof. Their light tubes can be flexible and or can bend around obstructions in the building. They are also useful under roofs with drop ceilings and attics. Light tubes can be 12 to 100 feet in length and are designed to pass through entire floors so lower floors can receive natural light as well as the top floor.

Tubular Skylights Are Affordable

Tubular daylighting devices offer affordability due to their compact size and modular design. The purchase and installation required for a tubular skylight is far less than that of traditional skylights. Also, there is no need for major structural changes when installing tubular skylights because they are designed to fit between roof rafters and ceiling joints.

Limitations of Tubular Daylighting Devices

One of the biggest advantages with tubular daylighting devices is their small geometric profile. They are typically available in 10” and 14” sizes. The smaller size makes them easy to install and seal; however, this small size renders tubular daylighting devices a less ideal solution for large-scale commercial applications. Another crucial limitation of tubular skylights is the high roof occupancy requirement.To provide adequate light, many tubular daylighting devices must be installed, therefore using up to between 5 to 7% of the roof space.

Because commercial and industrial applications often have more area to illuminate, a higher number of tubular units are required to provide sufficient illumination. Solar-tracking skylights, on the other hand, require less roof space and provide many benefits similar to tubular daylighting devices. For information about Ciralight’s solar-tracking skylights and how they compare in features and functionality against tubular daylighting devices, please see the competitive advantage section of Ciralight’s product page, or contact our sales team today.


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