Solar tubes can be a cost-effective way to bring natural light into your home. They consist of a clear dome on your roof that collects sunlight, a tube, anywhere from eight to fourteen inches in diameter that is mirrored on the inside, and a diffuser on your ceiling that softens the bright glare of the sun and distributes soft light throughout your room. In bright sunlight, solar tubes are reportedly equivalent to a 300W incandescent bulb. They are an effective way to brighten up an otherwise dark laundry, storage room, or hallway and provide additional light in the kitchen or bathroom while reducing your energy consumption.

Solar tubes come in a variety of styles and configurations. Some can be equipped with LED lights on the inside to provide nighttime lighting without an additional fixture or with fans for the bathroom.

Solar tubes have some advantages and disadvantages when compared to the more traditional skylight. They do not provide the view of the sky, clouds, and stars that a skylight does. They cannot be opened to provide additional ventilation. They are not as large or make the same visual impact. On the other hand, they are better at filtering out harmful UV rays, generally cheaper to install and less prone to leaking. They can be installed to “bend around” an obstruction in your attic and in an area where the distance between your ceiling and the roof would make a skylight prohibitive. Solar tubes will not add to the heat gain in a room the way a skylight can. Both solar tubes and skylights are eligible for a federal tax credit equal to 30% of the cost for a maximum of $500 for two installations.

The cost to install a solar tube will vary depending on individual circumstances. A general estimate including professional installation is: $600 for a basic solar tube. For advanced options that include nighttime lights and ventilation expect to pay about $150 for a light kit and $250 for a bathroom vent/fan, plus taxes. Running electrical wires to the new fixtures, when necessary, would be extra.

JMJ Natural Lighting from Rancho Cordova installed our solar tubes ( (916) 635-7652 The total cost for our four tubes installed, two of which had light and fan kits, was $2574. That was a little less than list but it’s possible to negotiate.


Solar tubes brighten up a dark hallway during the day with no operational energy inputs! Photo courtesy Michael Kluk.


Solar tubes penetrate the roof and refract light through a tube into your home. Photo courtesy Michael Kluk.