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Solatube® Daylighting Systems ... unusual but brilliant!

Occasionally, we are asked if we can deliver daylight to rather unusual environments or via unusual routes. Here are some of the more 'non-standard' applications where we have installed Solatube® Daylighting Systems to great effect.


Solatube® gives a lighter pint at the Otter Brewery in Devon

Otter Brewery in the heart of the Blackdown HillsThe Otter Brewery in Devon is lucky enough to be located in the heart of the Blackdown Hills – an area of outstanding natural beauty and also an area of special scientific interest. With this in mind, the Brewery have always felt a responsibility for the environment and were keen to extend this to their new 'eco cellar' in the brewery. The cellar already incorporates many features that help maintain their environmental responsibilities and reduce the Brewery’s carbon footprint such as a living 'sedum' roof, clay honeycomb block walls, and two thirds of it has been built underground to keep the cellar cooler and thus eliminate the need for electric chilling systems.

Solatube Daylighting Systems provide natural light with no heat gain to the Otter cellarsIt may be cooler underground but it is also darker, with no natural light – great for otters, but not so good for the work force.  What was needed was a solution that would provide a significant amount of light, with no heat gain.

The challenge was also made greater by the cellar's 4.2m ceiling height, with access available only through the wall and hence necessitating piping daylight horizontally up to 6m along the ceiling and finding a method of suspending and supporting the tubes.  Solatube lights the parts that other daylighting devices can't reach!Outside the domes would emerge at ground level, not ideal at the best of times, but they would also be at the bottom of a steep valley, facing almost due east.

Solatube® Daylighting Systems rose to the challenge; the 99.7% Spectralight® Infinity reflective tube system ensured that acceptable levels of daylight would be delivered despite the long tube length. And the active daylight harvesting via the domes meant that the problematic dome location was less significant. The Brewery is delighted to have found a solution in Solatube® Daylighting Systems that meets all their criteria.

And Solatube® found the Otter pint a great solution too!

Wall-mounted domes at low level are no obstacle for Solatube Daylighting Systems


Cardiff Police Station

No other daylighting system can match the light delivery of Solatube Daylighting Systems

Sometimes an application comes along that extends the boundaries of what is thought possible. Such was the case at the newly constructed Cardiff Police Station where additional daylight was necessary in the 66 holding cells that were located on the ground and first floors. The challenge set to SolaLighting was firstly to establish if a tube length of approximately 20 metres would deliver sufficient daylight to illuminate the cells, and, secondly, to find the most feasible route from the building's exterior to the ceiling of each cell.

Solatube delivering daylight from the rooftop via the atriumTo address the first challenge, tube lengths of 17.5 metres were tested at the Building Research Establishment. The tests concluded that, even under typical overcast conditions in the UK, a remarkable 50% of the light entering the top of the tube would be delivered to the diffuser at the Light harvested via wall-mounted Solatube domesend of the tube (copies of this report are available on request). Having determined that the Solatube 99.7% reflective tube material delivered such a good level of performance, the next challenge was to establish feasible routes from the exterior of the building to the cells.

The Solatube Daylighting Systems provided outstanding light delivery even with such long tube lengths and under overcast sky conditionsFollowing a number of site meetings, routes were determined for all the cells; eighteen cells had daylight delivered from wall-mounted Solatube Daylighting Systems that required one 90 degree angle into the ceiling of each cell, whilst the remaining 48 cells had light delivered from roof domes located several stories above the cells, via tubes that incorporated two 0-90 degree angle adaptors. Furthermore, some of the 530mm diameter systems that brought daylight from the rooftop via the atrium of the building were then connected to three smaller diameter systems that delivered the daylight into three cells, making this probably the most unique and challenging Solatube installation in the UK to date.

Solatube is delighted to have contributed towards Stradform's award

Stradform Limited, the developers on the project, won the innovation category of the 2008 Constructing Excellence in Wales (CEW) awards and a Silver Green Apple Award for environmental best practice. The awards were in part owing to the highly innovative use of Solatube® Daylighting Systems to pipe daylight into the holding cells, but also to other innovative construction methods that were adopted during the build.

Constructing Excellence in WalesCEW acts as a link between the Welsh Assembly Government, clients, industry and end-users to ensure that construction in Wales becomes a faster, more efficient process and that it delivers facilities for the public, private and regulated sectors that are of real long term value. The Green Apple Awards


The Green Apple Awards are organised by The Green Organisation, an independent, non-political, non-activist, non-profit environment group dedicated to recognising, rewarding and promoting environmental best practice around the world.



Solatube® at the Beijing Olympics

148 Solatube Daylighting Systems have been installed into the roof the Olympic gymnasium

The architects designing the gymnasium at the Beijing Science & Technology University sought a way to add natural light to the building that would satisfy the needs of athletes and spectators while reducing the need for artificial lighting. However, with a steel-frame roof, numerous obstructions and a diffusion plane over 17 metres high, the building provided many design challenges. With tube lengths in excess of eight meters, only Solatube's 99.7% reflective tubing was considered to be up-to-the-job of delivering enough light to satisfy the needs of both athletes and spectators. As a result, 148 Solatube® Daylighting Systems have been installed in a major gymnasium for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Solatube Daylighting Systems were equipped with the unique Solatube OptiView® Diffusers to evenly disperse the daylight throughout the interior space

The Solamaster® 530mm diameter Daylighting Systems were installed to provide superior natural lighting and extend the hours of daylight available within the gymnasium. The Solatube® Daylighting Systems overcame the problems posed by the steel-framed roof design and ceiling height as they can transmit daylight over eight metres with minimal light loss, and could easily be angled around construction obstructions.

The Solatube® Daylighting Systems were equipped with the Solatube® OptiView® Diffusers to evenly disperse the daylight throughout the interior space. Solatube® Daylight Dimmers were also installed to ensure that the daylight could be adjusted for optimum energy efficiency, occupant comfort and changing space requirements. Furthermore, Solatube® Daylighting Systems eliminate powerful glare and hot spots from the intense Beijing sun, and prevent UV rays and solar heat from entering the building.

Solatubes are playing an important role in the Olympics this year and helping to create such a beautiful and energy-efficient facility

Solalighting Limited commented:

"We are delighted that Solatubes are playing an important role in the Olympics and helping to create such a beautiful and energy-efficient facility."


Weimin Zhuang, Architect for this project, commented:

"Compared with traditional lighting systems, Solatube Daylighting Systems have a unique advantage with better progressed view and a wide application field. They reduced power usage and exceeded our environmental design goals."