If you are considering installing a solar skylight alternative to traditional skylights, we ask that you read this blog first as it will give you some points that might have you reconsidering.

Put simply, “solar skylight alternatives” are solar-powered LED lights. It is difficult to call them an alternative to a traditional skylight when in actuality they have more in common with a light bulb. There are a number of claims from solar skylight alternative companies that suggest they are better than traditional skylights when in reality they can actually create a whole new set of problems inside the home. 

Below we will discuss some of the drawbacks of solar skylight alternatives and why you should consider installing traditional skylights instead.

Four Major Drawbacks of Solar Skylight Alternatives

Heat Transfer

While solar skylight alternative companies might assure you that no heat is transmitted from the sun, this is not what you should be worried about. Although typically cool to the touch, LEDs produce heat within the device itself. This is caused by inefficient semiconductor processes, which is what generates the light. LED packages typically have a wall-plug efficiency (optical power out divided by electrical power in) of approximately 5-40%, which means that around 60-95% of input power is lost as heat.

Compared to a 100-watt GLS incandescent bulb, which produces around 5% visible light, 83% infrared radiation and 12% heat, a standard LED produces around 15% visible light and 85% heat.

Households commonly have to remove the roof insulation from behind the LED devices of a solar skylight alternative product for safety precautions. LEDs also commonly require an “LED heat sink” to keep the units cool.

Daylight Colour LEDs

Daylight Colour is essentially a marketing term used to define the Kelvin (colour temperature) of an LED, such as White (4000K) to Blue-White (5000K). 

Daylight ranges from Blue-White (5000K) to Bright Blue (6500K) which are particularly uncomfortable for use in the home. Skylight alternative products are using daylight-coloured LEDs to suggest that their products offer the same light colour temperature as actual daylight. This couldn’t be further from the truth as the LEDs used in skylight alternative products have a colour rendition lower than 85%, and far more often cause discomfort to the occupants in the home through flickering which can cause headaches and/or glare causing eye strain.  

Mimics Daylight or Outdoor Conditions

Natural outdoor light is far more complex than these solar skylight alternative companies want consumers to believe. Natural light is dynamic and cannot be imitated by artificial alternatives.

Natural light contains an entire scope of colours, beginning with bright blue-rich light early in the day that signals our bodies to be awake and alert and then changing throughout the day, often ending with softer red-rich light that signals our bodies to relax and prepare us for sleep.

In addition to this, the volume or intensity of the daylight is only a very small part of the role it plays in benefitting you and your family’s health. Natural light helps us reset our circadian rhythm which affects our sleep cycles and can have huge benefits on our mental health while LEDs disrupt sleep patterns and are commonly linked to an increased likelihood of mental health issues, such as depression. For this reason, we are often told not to use our phones before we go to sleep a night.

Water Leaks

While there is no “major” roof penetration from a solar skylight alternative, leaks most commonly occur on metal roofs from the following:

  • Incorrect sealants being used and not applied in the correct position.
  • Valleys not incorrectly weathered up.
  • Cables and small pipes passing through a valley and not at the top of sheet rib.
  • Not installing the correct flashing system.
  • Not applying an anti-capillary cut to the outer edge of the overlap sheet.
  • Over tighten the roof fixing screws on the overlap of roof sheets to prevent capillary water leak action.
  • Using roofing screws with missing seals.

Why Should You Choose The Real Thing?

Issues with solar skylight alternatives really do come down to the quality of the product that is purchased and the quality of the installation. Even if installed perfectly, they are still no match for the real thing. A traditional skylight brings with it so many benefits for the homeowner, and skylight installation from trained skylight experts will ensure that your new installation is soundly installed and free from issues.

The ideal lighting solution for any home is lighting your home with warm-coloured LEDs through all areas of the home for use at night time, while utilising natural light from windows and skylights during the day time. Selecting this combination really leaves no place for a “skylight alternative” and is the far more cost effective option. To review the cost comparison of a skylight alternate to a LED light visit https://solatube.com.au/blog/solar-skylights/.


Want to know more about why you should choose a skylight over an solar skylight alternative product? Give the friendly team at Solatube a call on 13 16 19.

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