Oct. 16, 2019 | Geoff Geddes
Let there be light: Homeowners are warming up to sun tunnels
To the uninitiated, a "sun tunnel" might sound like something out of a sci-fi movie. However, for many present-day homeowners, this special type of skylight is proving to be the perfect fit.
"Our version of the sun tunnel consists of a bubble on the top of the roof that refracts sunlight through a tube running through the attic to deliver bright, natural light to indoor spaces," said Elizabeth Mueller, co-owner of Skylight Professionals in Calgary.
"It comes in three sizes – 10-inch, 14-inch and 22-inch – and brings in an incredible amount of natural light wherever you have dark space that needs attention."
More natural light is good for your plants, your health and your pocketbook, as it means less money spent on electricity for artificial lighting. While there is an initial expense, ranging from $899 for the 10-inch model to $1,059 for the 14-inch version, purchase and installation is about a sixth of the cost of a standard skylight.
"We also include an energy kit in the price, which helps prevent humidity in a kitchen or bathroom installation," said Mueller.
"A lot of our customers will have one installed and then call us to do another, as they're so pleased with the results. For the price, you really can't beat the change it makes to your home."
"I have installed them in mudrooms, garages and even a horse stable. Because they don't affect the roof structure, you can install as many as you want – our current record to date is 16 in one home." - Jeff Santos, LightCo Solar Systems
For those looking to save a few dollars by doing the install themselves, Mueller cautions they might end up cutting more than the cost.
"Some people try to do it on their own, but you really don't want to make a mistake when cutting a hole in your roof, especially in a city with eight months of winter," she said. "We offer a 10-year warranty that brings peace of mind as well."
Though regular skylights have their place, sun tunnels offer some real advantages.
"One of the biggest benefits is that a sun tunnel can be installed in a couple of hours by one person and it's done," said Jeff Santos, sales associate for LightCo Solar Systems, which has offices in Calgary and Edmonton. "With a skylight, you have to deal with framing, drywall, mud, tape and paint, so it's quite a production."
Once installed, the 10-inch model sold by LightCo will light up about 150 square feet of space, while the 14-inch model can cover closer to 250 square feet. This gives the homeowner a broad range of options.
"The most popular locations for these installations are kitchens, bathrooms, front entrances, living rooms and dining rooms," said Santos.
"That said, I have installed them in mudrooms, garages and even a horse stable. Because they don't affect the roof structure, you can install as many as you want – our current record to date is 16 in one home."
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