What Are the Drawbacks of Solar Tube Lighting?
We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.

What Are the Drawbacks of Solar Tube Lighting?

Electric bills can get quite pricey, especially during the darker winter months. Plus, some indoor spaces can seem quite gloomy no matter what sort of lighting you provide. This often influences the installation of natural lighting solutions, skylights and solar tubes included.

These types of windows are placed through the roof of your home and allow uninterrupted daylight to enter in order to save on electricity bills, and provide a softer, gentler natural light source. Despite how favorable this sounds, there are drawbacks to this type of design. This article explores what the drawbacks of solar tube lighting are.

What is Solar Tube Lighting?

Closed up shot of light tubes fixed on a ceiling.

Solar Tubes are also called sun tunnels, light tubes, tubular skylights, daylight pipes, and light tubes by those who install them and narrow tubes that run from your roof through the ceiling of your home to provide outside lighting. They are available in different sizes that range from 10 to 22 inches in diameter, are as long as they are needed to be, and are capped with a clear, weatherproof dome. They also are lined with a highly polished material or reflective material that amplifies the sunlight as it passes through.

It is said that a 10-inch tube is comparable to three 100 watt bulbs. They are popularly used in darkened home areas that rely on electric lighting during the day. This includes hallways, closets, laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, and stairwells. They can even be installed into lower floor levels if there is a mechanical chase or closet to run through.

How Does It Compare to a Skylight?

These windows are set into the roofs of your home just like a solar tube, but requires much more installation time, materials, and labor due to the larger size required. They are very efficient at allowing in light, but can also create a warming of the room via the solar energy it may allow passing through.

They are highly popular not only because of the light they allow but also due to the view of the sky they provide. Solar tubes in comparison are narrow, more deeply set, and do not provide an expanse of sky through their opening.

Benefits of Solar Tube Lighting

Kitchen with skylights

As mentioned, this type of lighting allows for a brightening of areas commonly darkened due to how the architecture of a home is laid out. This saves on power in the long run, making them a cost-effective solution.

They also do not raise the temperature of a room, do not allow for a heat loss in winter, and look very much like common lighting fixtures due to their shape and size. This consistent source of daylight, even if the sun is not shining, helps stave off seasonal affective disorders as well.

Many times they also are UV protected to keep from any natural fading to your furniture, pictures, etc… from occurring in your home.

Why Solar Tube Lighting Might Not Be the Best Choice


Despite how efficient, affordable, and beneficial solar tubes maybe, you have to weigh the cons along with the pros to determine if they are what is best for your home lighting needs. Consider the following when making your natural lighting decisions:

  • No views of the sky are available, so don’t count on them for nighttime stargazing or even for checking the weather.
  • Ventilation cannot be installed with it, which means you can’t open them to allow the release of heat, or to catch a gentle breeze like you can with a skylight.
  • The longer the tube, the less light they provide- which may make them slightly ineffective in certain areas.
  • They are most effective at one story depths since the deeper they are the less light is offered.
  • Indirect sunlight will not be as bright as direct sunlight, and if your roof is shaded through the day you might only get a weakened light.
  • Water condensation may occur in the tube if you live in a humid climate.


Master bath in luxury home with skylight

If you have indoor space that could benefit from the addition of a natural lighting source you may want to consider the addition of either a skylight or solar tube option. Both allow for lighting directly from the sun as a solar solution that can cut your electricity bill all while brightening your areas through the day.

Both options have their benefits and drawbacks, and it is important that you consider all that is offered before making a final decision. If you have either of these installed, we’d love to hear what you love about them, as well as what you wish was better overall about the designs.

And, as always, please share!