What Are the Drawbacks to Solar Tube Lighting?

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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If you want to enjoy natural light home and find solar tube lights uncomfortable or overly costly, then you have various other options available. Indeed, solar lights are becoming a staple in the lighting industry, and it’s good to conduct adequate research before settling on a specific brand. In this guide, we shall be focusing on what are the drawbacks to solar lighting. 

The conventional solar light tube features a polished sheet of metal, which you install to the roof to help regulate the direction of sunlight. Usually, the sheets are available in 10 to 14-inch diameter sizes, which you can easily set up on most modern roofs. However, the issue is that some people find solar tubes irritating, and we shall be looking at the critical factors associated with such lighting appliances. 

Below is a comprehensive guide to help you get informed.

Solar tubes are referred to as sun tunnels or light tubes. They are narrow tubes that you set up on your roof, through the ceiling, and are excellent for lighting applications. The lights are available in many different sizes, that can range between 10 and 22 inches in size. Plus, the lights are often lined with reflective and polished material that helps to improve the intensity of the lights.

According to information from the lighting industry, a 10-inch tube lights up in the same way as a 100-watt bulb. Plus, they are commonly used in homes, or places that require regular lighting, minus the hassles of electrical bills. The common places to use solar tube lights include kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms and more. 

Similar to all solar lighting resources, the only challenge with using these types of lights is that they are a hassle to set up. Plus, they are still relatively novel resources, and not many people or companies around the world have come across these appliances.

How Does a Solar Tube Compare to A Skylight?

When it comes to determining the hassles associated with using solar lights, it's essential to learn about other different types of lights. A skylight is a type of window, which you set up on your roof, just as you would with a solar tube. That said, they involve a lot of hassle when it comes to factors such as installation time, labour and materials required. Plus, the skylights are considered to be highly efficient because they let in lots of light. 

Due to their unique designs, skylights are also excellent when it comes to aesthetics and complementing the look of your property. Usually, these lights have a narrow design and are deeply set to make them secure on the surface.


Benefits of Solar Tube Lighting

Just as previously mentioned, solar tubes are excellent because they provide a convenient approach for illuminating places that are conventionally darkened. However, before you can understand all the drawbacks associated with this light, it's also good to look at some of its benefits. For instance, the lights use energy from the sun, which means issues such as power bills are no longer there. Even more, solar lights are also excellent because they are easy to install and compatible with various types of interior décor structures.

Why Solar Lights are Not Excellent Choices

  • Requires lots of space solar tubes lights need lots of room to set up the right way. In small homes, there is a lack of sufficient space, and each inch of space in your area is crucial. Thus, if you want adequate sunshine coming into your home, consider getting a large and spacious place. However, in some cases, this is not possible, as most property owners are limited for space. A solar tube might be a convenient addition to your property, but you need lots of space to set it up the right way. Plus, these lights have several unique components, and getting it right requires more than just your DIY skills.
  • High upfront cost – the initial cost associated with installing solar-powered lights is often high. The good thing is that you will experience a relatively low cost when it comes to maintenance and other related expenses. However, if it’s a bigger project, then you will require a significant amount of capital to set up the lights as needed. A solar tube light has several components, and you have to take these into perspective to make the most of this light.
  • Not dependable – even if solar lights have come a long way over the years, these lights are not often reliable when in use. Thus, if you want to enjoy the best lighting results, ensure you set up the light in an area that will provide optimal light exposure benefits. You want a dual powered light, which can rely on different types of power supply sources.
  • Water condensation issues – the one common issue among solar light users would be the problem of condensation. It occurs during humid weather; whereby moist air might quickly get in the tube. The accumulation of water can easily compromise the longevity of the light. Plus, the issue can be more severe if the leakages occur in the room. The water condensation procedures can also compromise the walls, and even ruin the paint.
  • It's not easy to control a solar tube light – unlike the traditional types of light, a solar tube light is not easy to control because it does not have a power function. The only aspect you can manage would be the amount of light the fixture can produce at any given moment. Usually, these lights are available in 10 and 14-inch diameters, so you may have to use a diffuser or a window film for light regulation. The only issue is that it’s a hassle being able to regulate the solar light, and its intensity.

Solar Light Tubes vs Skylights

Perhaps the most significant comparison of solar tubes would be to compare these lights to skylights. Below is some information on both light types:

Solar Light Tubes

The good thing about solar tubes is that they are cost-friendly. On average, expect to spend about $100 to set up the light, primarily when you invest in a professional service. The good thing is that these types of lights require a small amount of modification, which makes them highly convenient to use. Installation is also a convenient process because most high-end brands are available with an installation kit for convenience. 

These lights are also exceptionally energy-efficient and experience minimal heat gain when compared to the skylights. Also, the set-up process for these types of lights is simple and might require minimal finishing. The solar lights are an excellent addition and can work perfectly for regulating issues such as emissions or radiations produced The lights are also convenient and easy to set up, especially with the right DIY kit.


Skylights are costly to set up when compared to skylights. On average, you may require over $2,000 to set up the light, and you often need professional services for the process. Plus, you may have to perform additional interior design to ensure the best setup results. These lights are also highly efficient when it comes to energy consumption.

The key benefit of these types of lights is that they also help to improve the market value of your property. Some of the high-end brands even incorporate their lights with UV filtering mechanisms to make the lights highly convenient to use. Most people who go for skylights don’t go for the energy savings, but for the fact that these lights add elegance to the structure of a house. 

Final Thoughts

Making the most of naturally renewable resources such as the sun can be an excellent way to complement the value of your property. Thus, this guide has been all about identifying what are the drawbacks to solar tube lighting. When you have information on the functionalities of these lights, choosing the correct brand and type becomes a simple process. The good thing about the solar tubes is that they are easy to set up, and are perfect for most modern environments.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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