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Choosing the right type of natural lighting for your building

Skylights and sun tunnels are designed to bring natural light into a space, but they differ in several ways. There is also new natural lighting technologies that can be employed.

What are the considerations and options when selecting a skylight.

1. Design and Installation:

Skylights are large, fixed windows installed in the roof of a building. They come in various shapes and sizes and require a significant opening in the roof for installation.

Sun tunnels, also known as tubular skylights or solar tubes, are smaller and more versatile. They consist of a dome on the roof, a reflective tube, and a diffuser in the ceiling.

They can be installed in spaces where traditional skylights might not fit. Or there is a reasonable distance from the ceiling to the roof.

2. Light Diffusion:

Skylights provide direct and diffused light, depending on their design. They can be more effective at illuminating larger areas but might create glare and hot spots in direct sunlight.

Sun tunnels use reflective tubes to channel and diffuse sunlight, which reduces glare and hot spots. They are better for evenly distributing light in smaller or narrower spaces.

3. Aesthetics:

Skylights are visible in the ceiling and can impact the architectural design. They can be a focal point and provide views of the sky.

Sun tunnels are less obtrusive and blend more seamlessly with the ceiling. They are often chosen for more discreet lighting solutions.

Remember how a room looks, feels and creates social interaction can all change by installing skylight.

4. Energy Efficiency:

Skylights may provide additional thermal challenges due to heat gain or loss, and may require shading mechanisms for climate control. This can also be mitigated by selecting low e laminate glass and making them opening which provides opportunities for natural ventilation of space.

Sun tunnels are often designed to be more energy-efficient and minimize heat transfer. They can be equipped with features like diffusers with daylite dimmers which can be closed to control light and heat.

5. Cost:

Skylights are generally more expensive to install due to their larger size, roof flashings and internal works required including painting, and in some situations will need structural support.

Sun tunnels are usually more cost-effective because of their smaller size and simpler installation. Range in size from 250mm-600mm

6. Location and Size of Room

Skylights are commonly used in larger spaces, such as living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and atriums, where more light is desired. They can be fitted with blinds for bedrooms and living areas to watch media. Or opening to provide ventilation. They can add value to space by design.

Sun tunnels are ideal for spaces like hallways, closets, bathrooms, or areas with limited distance between the trusses/rafters or high ceiling to roof spaces. Areas requiring functional light.

7. Flashings

Skylights require more involved flashings to make watertight

Sun Tunnels are usually a single piece flashing and on low pitch rooves need a backtray.

8. New Technologies

There are new technologies currently being introduced which let in light and heat hot water or use a solar panel to brighten basements.

In summary, skylights and sun tunnels and new technologies in homes and factories serve the same purpose of introducing natural light into a space but differ in terms of design, installation, aesthetics, energy efficiency, cost, flashings, and where they are best suited. The choice depends on the specific needs and constraints of your building.

Reach out to the team to learn more



100 Wairau Road



Tel:    09 440 9820


Alternatively, you can email us here

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