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Solatube Daylighting Systems vs Traditional Roof Windows

Solatube Daylighting Systems vs Roof Windows 

While traditional roof windows have their place – the primary benefits being that you can open them (and sometimes see out of them) – there are many advantages in using a Solatube Daylighting System; it is simply a question of using the right product to do the best job. 
 
If a view is not to be gained, then a daylighting system is a very strong contender. In particular, where you have a conventional horizontal ceiling with roof space above, you will find that traditional roof windows, with attendant light wells below to bring the light down to the room, are just not effective or efficient· at lighting a room, whereas tubular daylighting systems are designed specifically for situations such as these. 
 
Consider the following points: 
The thermal efficiency of a traditional roof window is poor compared to that of a tubular daylighting system; in winter, heat will escape through the large aperture in your ceiling, whereas in summer you are likely to suffer from solar gain (heat build-up). Solatube Daylighting Systems have excellent insulation properties with u-values of just 1.3 W/m²K – better than some double-glazed windows.* Furthermore, they are double-glazed at ceiling level (not roof level) to prevent your expensive heated (or cooled) air escaping from the room below into the roof void. 
Diagram showing the difference in heat loss between a Solatube Daylighting System and skylight
Solatube Daylighting Systems deliver significant amounts of light for their size, delivering the same (often more) daylight as traditional roof lights, but through a far smaller aperture. A full range of fully integrated accessories is available – including bathroom ventilation kit and electric lighting, giving you the option of a neat, multi-functional unit in one system. 
They are also efficient on all roof aspects, whereas traditional roof windows are efficient only on south-facing aspects. Fresnel lenses in the roof dome also means the system makes the most of low level sun – during winter and early morning/evening. 

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Diagram showing the difference between Solatube roof domes and light well
Condensation is likely to be an issue with roof lights, whereas our tubular daylighting systems are designed to dissipate any condensation that may form, out on to the roof. 
Light wells create a shaft of light leaving a bright square of direct light on one part of the floor, whereas the daylight from a dalyighting system's ceiling fitting is evenly diffused throughout the room. 
Light wells are a haven for cobwebs, flies and spiders and will require frequent cleaning. 
Keeping roof windows clean from water staining, bird droppings, leaves and moss/algae can be difficult – both inside and out, owing to access and attendant safety issues. Daylighting systems require no cleaning or maintenance. 
When it rains, roof windows can transmit a loud drumming noise in to the room below, which a daylighting system does not. 
If security is a consideration, then our Daylighting Systems are a far safer bet than a traditional roof window. 
The installation is much simpler – you can fit a smaller daylighting system in between the rafters and the roof timbers do not need to be designed and/or cut and trimmed as they would around the traditional roof windows. 
With traditional roof windows you also need to allow for the window and flashing kit, plus both materials (plasterboard, timber etc.) and a significant amount of extra time for building, plastering and decorating the light wells. In comparison, a Solatube Daylighting System is simple, quick and easy to install, either when scheduled in with your roof build or as a retrofit. 

Conclusion 

So if you are comparing tubular daylighting systems versus traditional roof windows, bear in mind the points above; you are the one that will have to live with the final solution so make sure you are aware of all the pros and cons. 
 
* Our award-winning Energy Care Optima™ add-on enhancement is available to provide even greater thermal efficiency for your Solatube Daylighting System, with u-values as low as 0.5 W/m²K – that’s passive house standard! 
31 March 2017 
 
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