at a recent art festival, we came across a booth showcasing solar tube lighting, something i’d been interested in for a while. we signed up for a professional installation of solatube solar lighting by solartex, a local austin dealer. i’d researched solar tube lighting in the past, but found the notion of cutting holes in my roof a bit too daunting for a self-install.
the very friendly solartex installer, aaron, mentioned he could teach me how to install them myself if i was interested. little did he realize i’d then be following him around with my cameras, documenting his every step…he was a great sport and grinned throughout my pestering.
the result is a how-to photo essay of professional solar tube installations:
first, one must choose the appropriate size solar tube for the room. solatubes come in 10 and 14 inch sizes. we decided on a 14 inch solatube for our kitchen / breakfast room area. it gets some natural lighting from north and south windows, but we end up using overhead lights in the morning and early evenings.
here’s the kitchen with natural lighting from north and south facing windows
ensure you have ample room between joists in the ceiling, then make a center point hole with a drill
draw and cut out a 14 inch circle
eyeballing the center of the circle, use a measuring tape to find a matching center point on the roof
drill a hole from the attic, then find the hole on the roof. use the dome skirting to trace another circle.
cut circle piece from the roof
installer hint — when you get close to completing the cut, grab the piece so it doesn’t fall through your ceiling below!
remove roofing nails around sides & top of hole
cut shingles to create water channel
caulk the underside of the dome housing to ensure a watertight seal. he used two tubes on this one.
lift loose shingles and place dome housing under
screw down to roof
measure distance to ceiling below
build reflective tube to length using solatube’s “spectralight infinity” sheets
here’s the solar tube with the protective plastic still in place
once plastic is removed, the tube makes a great fun-house lens
attach the top section of the tubing
insert the tube down the dome skirting & screw into place
just look at that Raybender® 3000 Technology!!!
dome’s fresnel lens
install metal reflector in northwest corner of lens to grab more rays
attach dome lens to roof mount. that’s it for the roof!
there is an amazing amount of natural sunlight pouring down the tube
slide ceiling mount up and tighten screws into place. reflective-tape the seam with the tubing in the attic.
add diffuser plate. the solartex installer gave us two options for it.
one was a flat diffusion. we chose the multi-lens option which looked waaay cooler…
using the exact same camera settings as the first kitchen photo, this photo illustrates a quite significant increase in light!
with auto settings, here’s the kitchen after installation of Solatube light
we’ve been enjoying our solatube natural lighting for weeks now. it’s amazing how much light the tube directs into the room…we still catch ourselves turning around to “hit the switch” on our way out of the room… i would highly recommend the solatube natural lighting skylights to anyone looking to add a bit of “green” lighting to their home.