Solar Tube Lighting is a modern improvement on an old concept: the skylight. This means of daylighting has been around since the Egyptians, with the first reflector-type light tube coming into being in the 1850s. It is a time-tested means of delivering natural sunlight into a room.
They work by capturing light at an entrance point on the roof or one of the outer walls on the building. There may or may not be special collectors at the opening, or heliostat devices to track the movement of the sun and collect maximum natural light at all times of day. The light is funneled down a tube lined with highly reflective material through the building. These tubes work best when they are short and straight, as longer and/or angled tubes lose light intensity. The keep as much intensity as possible, modern reflective materials can now conserve up to 99% of the sun light. At the end point, a diffuser spreads light into the room, so as not to create a focused beam pointed at the floor. Solar lights also have limited usefulness in capturing moonlight.
There are new developments in solar lighting. One is the solar florescent light. This method captures UV rays into florescent polymers, convert them into red and green light, conventional system, but it enjoys the advantage of being able to operate on overcast days, as UV rays penetrate the cloud cover more easily than visible light. Another new development uses fiber optic cables in place of a reflective light tube.
Individual Tube Lights cost for household use can cost between $170-$250, depending on conditions and the quality of the fixture, and can be installed as a DIY job in as little as 2 hours. Modern examples typically have polycarbonate collectors that block harmful UV rays, preventing degradation of furniture, photographs, and paintings. Light tubes admit as much light as a skylight, but with no heat and at a fraction of a cost, and are an excellent means of getting a home’s electric bills down.