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Skylight vs. Sun Tunnel: Which One Is Right for You?

June 12, 2024 | 3 min. read

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Natural light can transform a living space, making it brighter, inviting, and energy-efficient. But with so many options, how can you choose just one?

For over a decade, Rescue My Roof has been educating homeowners, empowering them to make the best decisions for their homes. Today, we’re using our expertise to guide you to the best fit for you – a skylight or a sun tunnel. 

This article will compare skylights and sun tunnels, helping you decide based on your needs and circumstances. UUltimately, you’ll know which is best for your home.

What Are Skylights?

Skylights allowing natural light into an empty room.

Skylights are windows installed on the roof of your home. They provide a direct view of the sky and allow ample natural light to flood the room.

Advantages of Skylights:

  • Abundant Natural Light – Skylights can bring significant natural light into a room, creating a bright and airy atmosphere.
  • Ventilation Options – Some skylights can be opened to allow fresh air into the space, improving ventilation and indoor air quality.
  • Aesthetic Appeal – Skylights offer an attractive architectural feature, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your home and providing a view of the sky.
  • Variety of Styles – Available in various shapes, sizes, and designs, skylights can be customized to fit the style and architecture of your home.

Disadvantages of Skylights:

  • Cost – Skylights tend to be more expensive than sun tunnels regarding initial installation and potential maintenance.
  • Installation Complexity – Installing a skylight can be more complex and may require structural modifications to your roof.
  • Heat Gain/Loss – Without proper glazing and insulation, skylights can contribute to heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter.
  • Potential for Leaks – Poor installation or aging skylights can lead to leaks, necessitating careful installation and regular maintenance.

What Are Sun Tunnels? (Pros & Cons)

Sun Tunnels, or tubular skylights, are highly reflective tubes that channels sunlight from the roof into your home. They are typically used in areas where traditional skylights are not feasible.

Advantages of Sun Tunnels:

  • Cost-Effective – Sun tunnels are generally more affordable than skylights regarding  materials and installation.
  • Easier Installation – The installation process for sun tunnels is less invasive and can often be completed more quickly than skylights.
  • Energy Efficiency – Sun tunnels minimize heat gain and loss due to their smaller size and reflective design, making them more energy-efficient.
  • Flexibility – Ideal for small spaces, such as hallways, bathrooms, and closets, where a traditional skylight might not fit.

Disadvantages of Sun Tunnels:

  • Limited Light Output – Sun tunnels provide less light than skylights and may not be sufficient for large rooms or spaces requiring significant illumination.
  • No View – Unlike skylights, sun tunnels do not offer a view of the sky, which may be a drawback for some homeowners.
  • Fixed Position – Sun tunnels do not open or provide ventilation, so they cannot help with airflow or indoor air quality.
  • Design Limitations – While sun tunnels are effective, they offer different aesthetic appeal and design versatility than skylights.

Skylight vs. Sun Tunnel: How to Choose

Choosing between a skylight and a sun tunnel depends on several factors, including your budget, home design, and specific lighting needs.

  1. Room Size and Light Requirements: A skylight might be the better choice for larger rooms requiring abundant natural light. A sun tunnel is ideal for smaller, confined spaces where natural light is needed but limited space is available.
  2. Budget: A sun tunnel is the way to go if you want a cost-effective solution with a more straightforward installation process. Skylights offer an excellent option for those willing to invest more for added features and design appeal.
  3. Ventilation Needs: If improving ventilation is a priority, a venting skylight can serve a dual purpose by providing natural light and fresh air. Sun tunnels, on the other hand, do not offer ventilation.
  4. Aesthetic Preferences: Skylights offer a more dramatic visual impact and a view of the sky, which can enhance a room’s overall look and feel. A skylight may be more suitable if aesthetic appeal and design flexibility are important.
  5. Energy Efficiency: Sun tunnels can be an excellent choice for homeowners concerned about energy efficiency due to their minimal impact on heat gain and loss.

Installing a Natural Light Source

Both skylights and sun tunnels have unique benefits and drawbacks. By considering your specific needs, budget, and home characteristics, you can make an informed decision that will bring the beauty and benefits of natural light into your living space. Whether you choose a skylight or a sun tunnel, you’ll enhance your home’s ambiance and energy efficiency, creating a brighter and more inviting environment for you and your family.

Learn more about skylights with “Pros and Cons of Skylights” and “How Much Does A New Skylight Cost?Do you need skylight or sun tunnel installation in southeastern Wisconsin? The experts at Rescue My Roof can help. Contact us today to get your free estimate.