What Are The Drawbacks to Solar Tube Lighting

Written by John Ho on September 22, 2020
What Are The Drawbacks to Solar Tube Lighting 2020

Solar energy enabled equipments have become a new trend in the market. Companies are discovering new methods of using solar energy and bringing them into use. One such technology is Solar Tube Lighting. These are also known as sun tunnel or light pipe.

These light sources are perfect alternatives of skylights for getting the sunlight inside the room. These provide the natural way of brightening the dark areas of the house with natural or soft sunlight. Even during times when the sun is not visible, they are also accompanied by a photovoltaic technology which lightens the room anyways.

The mechanism of solar tube lighting is relatively simple. These tubes are made of polished sheet metal or with highly reflective material. These materials channelize the sunlight into the house, amplifying the same as it passes through the tube. The solar tube lights come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 10 to 22 inches in diameter. They are also capped with a clear and weatherproof dome, thereby acting as small scale skylights. Solar tube lights gained popularity because of the benefits like free lighting and low to minimal rate of leaks.

In comparison to skylights, solar tube lights have many additional benefits as well. These solar tube lights not only allow light but being narrow can be set up deeper into the rooms to bring more light inside the room.

What Are The Drawbacks to Solar Tube Lighting?

In spite of having so many benefits, solar tube lights are still not the best and the most efficient light sources to go for. Solar tube lights may be affordable and efficient in comparison to other alternatives. On comparing the pros and cons together, we concluded that cons outweigh pros. So, before buying solar tube lights, it is advisable to go through this list of cons as stated below.

No view of the sky

The ultimate purpose of solar tube lights varies and limits itself to small openings and then, amplifying the natural light to brighten the room. In this arrangement, the residents do not get any view of the sky which they would in the normal skylight. This arrangement can also bring a monotonous look in the house as well. On comparing this technology to skylights, it is observed that installing the latter not only allows ample natural sunlight to come inside the room, but also lets the residents enjoy the beautiful view of the sky.

Not suited for every home

Although solar tube lights take less roof space in comparison to the skylight, yet they take a lot of space in the house. This arrangement also reduces the chances of installing them using pipes in small homes as there is not enough space. So, it limits the usage of solar tube lighting in smaller houses. Therefore, the average family might not be able to afford that much space in their homes for the installation of the solar tube lights.

Further, the design of the roof, i.e. the slope, the slant and such other factors also form a significant hindrance while installing  solar tube lights. In comparison to skylights, another major issue is air circulation. This type of lighting is best suitable only for one-floor depths as the deeper you go into the house, the lesser light you receive. The reason being the longer the pipe, the lesser will be the light. Also, this depends upon a person’s personal choice as well. If a person wants to give preference to the appearance of the house, solar tube lights are not the best option. On the contrary, skylight boosts the appearance of the house leaps and bounds.

The only source of energy

It is essential to understand that the solar tube light’s source of power or energy is sunlight only. Though, there are some alternative light sources available but the only source of light in case of solar tube lighting is sunlight. On the days when there is rain, weather conditions are not favourable, not enough sunlight coming to the house, solar tube lighting is not feasible at all. In such cases, the residents will always have to look for alternative sources of light or be ready to be seated in the dark.

High Upfront costs

The cost of solar tube lighting is affordable and costs cheaper than other sources in the long run.. But, the initial cost of installing and all costs related to it are relatively high. In case of big infrastructures where solar lights are to be installed, the initial cost of installing the solar tube lights is very high, raising overall price of the project. The average cost of installing one solar tube light technology in a house or building with a reasonable quality of the material is $500-$1000, which by no means is cheap.

Also, the other contributory factors pitch against the cost and make it expensive in the initial stages. There are a few modals of this technology which use rechargeable batteries in case the weather is not favourable, or there is less sunlight exposure of the building. These not only increase the cost of regular maintenance but at the same time counts as a major source of pollution as well.

Not very much dependable

The technology related to solar tube lighting has undoubtedly come a long way when it comes to bringing natural sunlight into the houses. But still, there is too much left which is outside our control. We have to rely on outside conditions for this technology to work totally. Also, every situation is not fit for the usage of solar tube lighting. Therefore, for the majority of projects, where consistent and strong light is required, the use of solar tube lighting is not advisable. This is because it can delay or slow the work at times. The technology is also not advised where the houses are built with extreme weather conditions.. The conditions need to be just apt for the installation of lights into a certain house or building.

Further, upon the installation of the solar tube lights, if  any problem or emergency creeps in rendering the technology, these lights cannot be opened and are even difficult to maintain. Also, there may be times when water condenses at the coverings, affecting the light coming through the tubes and also disrupting the same.

Difficult to install

The solar tube lights are not easy to install. If by chance a wrong type of light or tube is chosen for a house, it might not serve the purpose it is installed for. In other words, when installed improperly or with some flaws, these lights may act as a channel for continuous leakage from the rooftop. The professional also charges a hefty amount for setting up the lights, adding further to the costs.

Does not prevent UV light

One of the major drawbacks of installing solar tube light is that it does not prevent the harmful UV radiations from entering the house. Whereas, the skylights have a special feature where they are enabled to stop the UV radiations from entering the house or building. These radiations can be harmful to the people being in contact with such radiations.

Conclusions

In the end, after going through all these cons and weighing them in comparison to the pros, it becomes evident that the cons outweigh the pros. It is also important that investors remain aware of what they are investing in especially when it comes to the houses. Though, this technology has come a long way in making energy-efficient, cheaper and more sustainable options, yet there are many more strides that need to be taken care of in this field to make it as a part of every household and be more reliable and consumer-friendly.

Article written by John Ho

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