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What You Need to Know About Sun Tunnels (Installation, Cost, & More)

September 25th, 2020 | 4 min. read

What You Need to Know About Sun Tunnels (Installation, Cost, & More)

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Do you have a dark room(s) in the middle of your home? Are you looking to add more natural light to these rooms or a dark kitchen? 

If so, you’ve probably heard a sun tunnel might be right for you. But what do you really know about sun tunnels? Luckily, we’re here to break it down for you. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality sun tunnels to the residents of Nashville since 1990. We know what it takes to add natural light to your home while doing things the right way. That’s why we’re certified by the leading brand of skylights and sun tunnels, VELUX. 

By the end of this article, you'll know what a sun tunnel is, how it works, how much it'll cost, and more. 

What is a sun tunnel?

A sun tunnel is a roof penetration that allows more natural light into your home. Sun tunnels don’t need direct sunlight to provide natural lighting to virtually any room in your house, even on the first floor of a two-story home.

There are two types of sun tunnels, flexible and rigid. Flexible sun tunnels are used when there are obstructions in the way of the space required for installation. Rigid sun tunnels are used when there is a straight shot from the roof down through the ceiling.

The size and type of sun tunnel you get will depend on the space between your roof and the ceiling. 

How does a sun tunnel work?

Now you know what a sun tunnel is, but how does it work? Sun tunnels work by utilizing the science of reflective mirrors.

A sun tunnel uses an acrylic dome to capture the light, magnify it, and then send it down the tube into the light diffuser. The polished interior of the tube works similarly to a continuous mirror and channels the sun’s light down the length of the tube without diminishing any light intensity. 

While the light won’t be as strong as direct sunlight, it’s still strong enough to light any dark room in your home. 

How is a sun tunnel installed?

A sun tunnel only requires one or two people to install. To install a sun tunnel, your local roofing contractor has to make a hole from your roof to your ceiling, fit the tube down into the hole, install an acrylic dome on the roof side of the tube, and install a light diffuser at the ceiling end of the tube. 

The finished product looks like a mounted circle on the ceiling. The entire process to install your sun tunnel takes 3 hours from start to completion. Because of this, a sun tunnel is the quickest way to transform any room with natural light.

Will a sun tunnel let in as much natural light as a skylight?

A skylight is mounted directly to your roof’s decking or mounted on a curb. No matter what kind of skylight you have, it’s a direct window to the outdoors with plenty of natural light. 

Remember, a sun tunnel uses an acrylic dome to capture the light, magnify it, and then send it down the tube into the light diffuser. They’re not a direct window to the outdoors, so a sun tunnel won’t let in as much light as a traditional skylight. 

However, that doesn’t mean a sun tunnel doesn’t provide plenty of natural light. I recommend sun tunnels for dark rooms in the middle of your house that don’t receive any natural light (such as hallways, laundry rooms, utility rooms, dark kitchens, bathrooms, large closets, etc.).

How much will your sun tunnel cost? 

There are two factors that affect the price of your sun tunnel. The first is the cost of the labor it takes to install. The second is the cost of the materials (acrylic dome, tube, light diffuser). 

The price for your sun tunnel depends on the length of the reflective tubing and acrylic dome plus the labor for installation. While the materials will generally be the same across the board, the labor cost of individual contractors is where you’ll see a difference in prices.  

With that in mind, you can expect to pay $650 to $2,150 for your new sun tunnel. This is a general estimate based on the leading brand of sun tunnels, VELUX. The final price will ultimately depend on the labor cost of the roofing contractor you hire. 

Will a sun tunnel qualify for the Federal Solar Tax Credit?

The federal solar tax credit allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of installing a solar energy system. VELUX, the leading skylight and sun tunnel brand, offers the solar federal solar tax credit on some of their products. 

This means you’ll get a 26% tax credit on the materials and the installation cost. To get this tax credit, something about your skylight or sun tunnel has to be solar-powered. This could be solar-powered blinds for a skylight or a solar-powered vented skylight. 

Unfortunately, most sun tunnels won’t be eligible for this tax credit. The only VELUX sun tunnel that is eligible for the tax credit is the solar night light.

Is a sun tunnel or skylight right for you?

Now you know all the important information about sun tunnels you need before calling an installer. But did you know a sun tunnel isn't the only option to add more natural light? 

I'm talking about skylights of course. Skylights come in a shapes and sizes. They're completely different from a sun tunnel, besides adding more natural light. 

But do you know how they compare on key factors? If you don't, you need to know the key differences between skylights and sun tunnels. Luckily, we’ve broken this down for you. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been installing sun tunnels and skylights in the Nashville area since 1990. Our workmanship ensures your natural light option stays leak-free for the life of the materials. That’s why we’re trusted and certified by the leading brand (VELUX) in the skylight industry to install their products. 

Check out this article on Skylight vs. Sun Tunnel: Which Natural Light Option is Right for You to help you decide which one is best for you and your situation.

checklist of questions to ask a roofing contractor

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