Solatube Invented Tubular Skylights

Solatube Tubular Skylights may be the first daylighting solution that is a true alternative to conventional light fixtures. It’s such a great idea—where did it come from? Who brought together technology with common sense and created a skylight that can replace a standard light fixture in building interiors and on lower floors? Think about all the advantages:

Solatube Skylight
Solatube Skylight

  • Solatube tubular skylights can be installed in between rafters or roof joists on pretty much any roof. They do not typically require any structural modifications to the roof.
  • Solatube tubular skylights require proper flashing, but if they’re installed properly, they will never leak.
  • In most cases, Solatube skylights can be used in lower storey rooms that do not have double-height ceilings.
  • Solatube skylights look like electric light fixtures inside the building, but they don’t use any power, and the quality of light they provide is excellent, too. It’s full spectrum, natural sunlight that makes everything look better.
  • When it’s dark out, Solatube’s LED backup systems can provide energy efficient electric light, with or without motion sensing technology.

Invented in Australia

You’ll be proud to hear that the tubular skylight was invented here in Australia by one of Solatube’s founders. The Solatube tubular skylight was patented in 1986, and Solatube was off and running by the early 1990s. Thirty years ago, before compact fluorescents and LEDs, lighting was even more energy intensive than it is today. Tubular skylights provide a free lighting solution that brings bright, natural light to interior spaces.

Technical Innovation

Tubular skylights are based on two technical innovations. First, Solatube skylights collect light from a 180 degree semi-sphere on your roof’s surface. They’re convex and water doesn’t collect on or around them. Their unique design allows them to bring in direct light from every angle; they’re designed to collect as much light as possible through a small roof penetration and they do so very effectively. But, what happens to all that light once it’s in the tube?

Solatube skylights utilise a high tech, highly reflective coating to make sure that almost all of the direct light that’s drawn in will reach its destination. Every time the light bounces off the side of the tube, 99.7% it is retained; the reflective coating of the tube only absorbs 0.3% of the light. Tubular skylights can create a strong light source up to 30 feet—around 10 metres—into a building’s interior. That could mean 30 feet below roof level or 20 feet down and ten feet to the side, to create a light source centred in an interior room.

A Dynamic Company

Solatube has been innovating and expanding ever since the early 1990s. The product started out simple, and it was originally aimed at the residential market. Soon, an optional ventilation kit and an integrated, supplemental electric light were added. In the late 1990s, Solatube opened an American headquarters and in 2000, the commercial division was founded. In the coming years, the company’s range and reach were expanded even more and today, we’re offering decorative ceiling fixtures for our skylights’ termini, solar powered attic ventilators and many variations on a basic product that is more effective than ever.