If you're looking for solar tube reviews, you've come to the right place. Like you, we're believers of taking advantage of the natural light the sun provides.
Solar tubes has many names. They're known as "light tube," "tubular skylight," "sun tunnel," "sun tube" and many others, but they have the same purpose: to use a sheet metal tube (in varying diameters) with polished interior that allows the light of the sun to pass through the roof and into the home.
Connected to the metal tube (outdoors on the roof) is a weather-proof plastic globe, while the other end of the tube (in the ceiling indoors) is equipped with a diffuser that spreads the light in a dramatic white glow inside the house.
Although it is similar to the traditional rectangular sunlight, a solar tube is a much cheaper alternative and offers better flexibility to different house and roof layouts.
Want to learn which one you need? Here are the best options available in the market today...
BEST SOLAR TUBE KITS UNDER $200
BEST SOLAR TUBE FOR ALL PARTS OF THE HOUSE
Most Heavy Duty
BEST SOLAR TUBE FOR EXTREME WEATHER
Natural Light's 10-inch tubular skylight is perfect for those living in areas often passed by hurricanes. In fact, aside from being NFRC-certified for Energy Efficiency, this brand passes Florida code requirements with flying colors.
This kit is beginner-friendly: It includes 4 feet of tubing and even sealant. The materials are high quality, which is a big deal, because you won't have to replace the solar tube too quickly down the road.
Probably the most common issue with Natural Light's tubular skylight kit is the type of flashing chosen. While the brand uses big and heavy gauge aluminum, choosing the right type will prevent potential leaking. If you're not sure, Natural Light's customer support is super helpful, so call them for flashing recommendation.
If you have low-pitched asphalt shingle or fiberglass shingle type of roof, this 14-inch solar tube with low-profile flashing from Radiant Skylight lets you add up to 90% of light transmitted from the roof lens down to your desired indoor space.
This US Sunlight solar tube kit consists of 6 feet of flex tube attached to the skylight and a round, single diffuser. Contrary to what the instruction pamphlet says, there are about 8 feet of flexible tube, which is more than enough for most installations. In fact, many say the provided tube is longer than you'd need, so prepare to cut to fit your set-up.
There is no need for major reframing, structural changes or renovations, but know that if your ceiling is low, the light would look more of a spotlight. The way to counter this is to add additional tubes nearby to "spread" light horizontally.
Another one from Natural Light, this 13-inch solar tube model is designed with black flashing, 4 feet of tubing and a domed prismatic interior diffuser, which perfectly fits fiberglass-asphalt shingle roof types.
Like most solar tubes on this list, installation of this model is possible even for beginners. Of course, there will be a learning curve (especially if you're used to skylights than light tubes), but once you've installed one on your roof, the next one would be much easier. It could even bring in light from the moon at nighttime.
Note that because the included flashing is designed for pitched Fiberglass-asphalt shingle roof applications only, you have to buy Turret extensions or tile roof flashing kits (sold separately) if needed.
The protective plastic of the Natural Light Energy Systems 13kxxx 13" Solar Sky Light Kit is a common complaint, but if you remove it before beginning installation, it won't become an issue near the end of the install.
This 10-inch, double-strength, acrylic sun tunnel tubular skylight comes with low-profile flashing, which provides the elegant and modern appeal from the roof. This set-up results to up to 98% additional lighting mainly thanks to the newly-added 99.99% silver reflective layer.
The VELUX 10-inch sun tunnel tubular skylight was made for shake or shingle roofs with 15 to 60 degree pitch.
This kit is definitely heavy-duty with high-quality components. The downside to this is that installation won't be "under two hours" as advertised. Setting it up would take more time (due to the tunnel's strength and weight), but it is doable even if you're doing it yourself. Plus, it includes a scaled dimensional layout of the hole.
ODL's 10-inch solar tube kit is one of the most-complete kits in this list. It has everything you need, such as a trim ring, flashing and lens diffuser (that helps in scattering light or spotlighting in a specific area). It is also equipped with ODL-patented solar lens and the brand's adjustable skylight tube with elegant-looking mirror finish.
Because this kit comes with flat aluminum flashing, some people may need to order the kit for flat roofs. This is an important consideration to ensure your solar tube fits your existing roof without the need for framing, dry-walling or re-painting.
The best thing about the ODL 10-inch Tubular Skylight Kit being an old model is that there are a lot of useful tips from fellow owners.
This 13-inch solar tube model from Natural Light is equipped with flat roof flashing (perfect for asphalt-type roof installations), high-impact acrylic dome, and hurricane-tested tubes and other components.
Illuminating up to 300 square feet of space, which is an equivalent of about 500 watts, this set-up will dramatically brighten up a kitchen, cabinet, entryway, or any other areas that used to be "blind spots."
And like other Natural Light solar tubes, you can choose to custom powder-coat the flashing to match your roof color.
Solatube's 14-inch Daylighting System Skylight is composed of an acrylic dome, Vusion diffuser, pitched metal flashing, top and bottom tubes, as well as sealant and fastener to put everything in place. Plus, the light deflector included in the Solatube kit gives you some control of the type of light brought into the house.
The tube is 30 feet long, which is pretty long for most houses, so you might need to cut it down to fit your specific needs.
Solatube has been providing a power-saving option to homeowners for decades now, so you'd have more information about its solar tubes than any other brands in the market.
Velux America's 14-inch model sun tunnel has all the components you need to bring the sunlight into your home for cheap. This kit includes exterior dome, roof flashing, 8 feet of tubing, and interior diffuser, which dramatically helps in spreading light output more evenly.
Like other solar tubes, there's a possibility that insects get through the lens. What's great about this Velux sun tunnel is it makes it easy for you to clean the lens with just a twist on the trim ring's lock. It's an underrated, but much-appreciate feature.
ODL's 14-inch tubular skylight kit is a massive-looking sun tunnel. You might get intimidated at first, but when you're inside a home with this model installed, there's a good chance you'll get wowed by the 48-inch, highly reflective tubing that delivers the sun's light from the UV-protected acrylic dome down to your room.
Positioning the ODL Tubular Skylight kit properly is important, unless of course if you live in an area where cloudy days are more often than not.
Natural Light's 18-inch tubular skylight was designed for use on pitched Fiber-glass asphalt shingle roofs. Aside from the massive size, what's great about this model is that the highly-reflective tubing doesn't crack, peel, delaminate or turn yellow.
This model of Natural Light also features a heavy-duty acrylic dome, seamless commercial grade powder-coated black aluminum flashing, a diffuser, and ceiling trim ring.
Installation is as easy as most of the best solar tubes here, but because of the size of Natural Light's 18-inch tubular skylight, you could probably do the setup without a professional’s help only if you have some help.
Almost every solar tube in the market looks alike, but just like many solar products, every tiny component makes a huge difference. As such, choosing the solar tube kit should depend on the following considerations:
If you're planning to bring the solar tube through multiple levels, it is possible, but may require professional installation (especially if you have no idea how to go through HVAC, wiring or plumbing).
These solar tube reviews are a great start if you’re looking for the perfect model, but you have to understand that the best solar tube for you depends on your lighting needs. For example, if you’re trying to bring light into a tiny space, the budget-friendly Natural Light 10-inch Tubular Skylight Kit for Flat Roof can be a good choice.
If you have a more complicated set-up such as multi-levels, rooms bigger than 300 square feet, extensive HVAC systems, then the best solar tube kits for you are the ones that would meet your requirements. For example, the VELUX 10" Double Strength Acrylic Rigid Low-Profile Sun Tunnel Tubular Skylight would fit most households that are currently undergoing roof renovations, while the Natural Light Energy Systems 13kxxx 13" Solar Sky Light Kit is best for rooms small enough to need just one solar tube unit, but big enough that a 10-inch model wouldn’t cut it.
Once you do find a solar tube perfect for your requirements, there's a big possibility that you won't ever go back to the time when you haven't taken advantage of the sun.