A Closer Look At Solar Skylights
What is now changing in the marketplace
First, we think it’s important to state that these products are not an actual skylight product. They do not provide natural light and are simply a solar powered LED. This is a very new, non-regulated market and we are already starting to see a huge number of overseas imports that any business can sell.
Prices of these solar skylights range from $50 – $650 and as with all solar powered products the price impact will mainly be subject to the quality of the panel.
These new solar skylights are trying to compare their products to a “traditional skylight” when really, they should be trying to compare their product to a “light globe”
Comparison between Solar Skylights and LED.
A Standard LED light globe can be fitted into about any light fixture, so let’s look at the cost. To find a solar powered skylight that will provide adequate performance similar to any LED light globe you should be expected to pay a minimum of $250. At this low price, your warranty will be approximately 1-3 years. Now compare this against two 10W LED bulbs of which would cost $39 (each) in total to buy and run over 10 years (as per the Australian government).
Seems like an EXPENSIVE option to save yourself turning off the light
At Solatube we are passionate about daylight and understand the substantial benefits it can have on your home and family.
In the end, if you are to decide between a purchase of a “solar skylight” (solar powered LED light) or a “traditional skylight” even without the technology that allows us to overcome all the issues associated with traditional skylights. We still believe natural light through even a traditional skylight is a much better option than LED lighting and the Building code of Australia agrees.
The building code of Australia under PART O2.4.4 Health and amenity states “The Objective (of lighting) is to safeguard occupants from injury, illness or loss of amenity –
- Isolation from Natural light; and
- Lack of adequate artificial lighting.
In PART 22.214.171.124 – “Natural light must be provided in all habitable rooms”
Issues with Solar Powered Skylights
Finally, Solar skylight products focus on the perceived two “issues” of traditional skylights – 1) leaks and 2) heat (which are overcome by any quality product).
What are the issues with solar “skylights”?
- Warranty – these products are full of electrical components whilst some offer “long warranties” these always exclude particular parts.
- BE AWARE of cheap imports – some have already been recalled due to a potential fire hazard in your home.
- Solar panels lose efficiency over time.
- If you cover any part of the solar panel for example a leaf or dirt, the efficiency drops substantially and even stops working.
It’s unfortunate these manufacturers are trying to sell these products as a “Solar skylight” when they understand the impact it can have on customers’ wellbeing.
At Solatube, we have no issues with these as an option in the market we are passionate about natural light and believe these are NOT a “skylight” product and should not be represented to customers in this way. Customers should make the comparison only with LED lights, and so should a manufacturer.
What is the role of natural light and artificial light?
The role of natural light – Is it to improve living conditions and the wellbeing of homeowners or as described by the building code safeguard occupants from illness or loss of amenity.
The true role of artificial light is to safeguard us from injury, in simpler terms, they ensure we don’t hurt ourselves at night by not being able to see where we are going.
“Solar skylights” (solar powered LEDs) only run during the day. So we ask the question, what’s the point?
If it’s so you can see what you want to get out of your pantry or walk-in wardrobe, then it’s a lot of money to spend just so you don’t have to turn on the light switch.
If you are still unsure about the substantial benefits of natural light over these “solar skylights” then ask yourself, why do you always want to sit near the window at a café or restaurant even when there is no view at all. If you want to test it again, find two dark rooms put a plant in each room then include a tube skylight in one and a “solar skylight” in the other. We’ll let you see (or assume) what will happen.