• Solar Tubes or Skylights: Which One Is Right For You?

  • solar tubes or skylights which one is right for you

    If you’re planning to install a new roof, why not consider adding upgraded features like solar tubes or skylights. Both of these roof-installed accessories can enhance your home or business’s interior look and feel, increasing daylighting and making smaller spaces feel bigger. Plus, we’re learning that the more exposure to natural light we get, the happier and healthier we are because natural sunlight keeps our circadian rhythms in sync and is a known mood-booster. 

    Always make sure you purchase high-quality solar tubes and skylight models from reputable manufacturers. Also, ensure they’re installed by professional roofing or window installation contractors so they perform as advertised and to minimize leak and water damage potential.

    If You Can’t Decide On SolarTubes Or Skylights

    To help you determine which products are right for you, we’ve compiled a list of advantages and disadvantages to each. Most clients wind up using a combination of each, carefully selecting which option is installed where thus optimizing their benefits.

    Advantages & Disadvantages of Solar Tubes 

    Solar tubes also called tubular skylights or sun tunnels, are smaller and scope. There are three basic parts that comprise solar tubes: a polycarbonate acrylic dome that is installed on the roof’s surface, a rigid or flexible sheet metal tube that reflects the light shining through the roof-installed dome, and a circular, diffusing lens installed on the home or commercial space’s interior ceiling.  

    This lens is usually 10-, 12-, or 14-inches in circumference.  

    The average cost of a standard, 14-inch solar tube runs between $550 and $700 each. 


    • Energy efficiency and possible tax credit 
    • Less prone to leaks than skylights 
    • Easier to install 
    • More affordable 
    • Less heat gain due to smaller roof surface exposure 
    • Light kits are available 
    • Requires less interior finishing 
    • UV rays are blocked by the dome 


    • There is no benefit to resale value 
    • Risk of condensation in the solar tube that can lead to moisture issues 
    • No view of the sky 

    Solar tubes almost look and perform like a daytime light fixture, rather than windows to the sky, like their skylight counterparts.  

    Advantages & Disadvantages of Skylights 

    Skylights are larger than their solar tube counterparts and come in a range of sizes from smaller squares to expansive rectangles. While bigger is typically considered better with skylights, keep in mind that their size should never exceed 15% of the square footage of the room below. 

    Depending on your budget and preferences, skylights are made from glass, or come in plexiglass or polycarbonate options, and are typically clear – with optional UV filtration available. They can be installed with shading and ventilation options, too. The average cost for a 2 x 4-foot, a fixed skylight is between $1500 and $2000. 

    As with your home’s windows, skylights are installed using a frame to support their weight, as well as flashing to mitigate water penetration. Professional installation is always recommended to prevent the chance of leaks in the future – and to provide warranty protection for products and/or labor in the chance skylight(s) develop a leak or repair issue at some point. Once installed, inspections, cleaning, and maintenance of the skylights should be built into your routine roof maintenance schedule. 


    • Can improve your home’s value 
    • Enhance your building’s interior appearance 
    • Optimize daylighting, decreasing or eliminating the need for interior lighting 
    • Provides a sky view during the day and at night 
    • Helps a small space feel larger 


    • More expensive than solar tubes (and can notably increase the cost of a new roof) 
    • Are less energy efficient (and can increase solar heat gain) 
    • Can lead to condensation and leak problems 
    • Increases harmful, UV exposure on skin and furnishings if you don’t choose products with UV filtration 
    • Trickier installation (requires professional installer) 
    • Only visible on the building’s highest floor 
    • Requires more interior finishing 

    Don’t Let Potential Disadvantages Hold You Back 

    The use of skylights and solar tubes notably enhances daylighting and your building’s interior appearance. We’ve posted the above information to ensure we’re being as transparent as possible. However, when professionally installed by licensed contractors, both options are excellent additions to your home’s roofing system.  

    Contact Central Bay Roofing to learn more about skylight and solar tube options, or to obtain your free, no-obligation estimate for a new roof or seasonal repairs.