When a building has windows allowing natural light through, the people inside benefit. Studies have shown that children who attend schools with skylights increased test scores by 25 percent, outscoring students with the same amount of light coming from a bulb. Not only can natural light improve productivity, it lowers lighting bills.
There are two ways to bring natural light down through your roof – skylights and light tubes.
Skylights are best for vaulted ceilings. The latest models are solar powered and don’t require ripping up the walls or ceiling for motorized operation. There are screens and built in shades to filter sunlight on the brightest days.
The trouble with skylights are that most people have attics, and it can be difficult to get the light through the attic into the living space below. In order to do that you need a light well, which connects the roof to the finished ceiling. This requires framing, drywalling, taping, sanding and painting.
Light tubes are over-sized metal ducts with a reflective interior surface bouncing light from the roof, through the attic, to the ceiling below. Most light tubes have three basic parts, the first being a clear dome that mounts about flashing on the roof to let light in.
The second part is the reflective duct. Short and straight ones are the most efficient, but some companies supply angled and adjustable tubes as well. You can find kits with a variety of tube lengths and extensions.
The third and final part is a round, opaque lens that fits in a trim ring in the ceiling. Some are adjustable and can control the amount of light let in and the area it illuminates. There is no view such as with skylights, but with a bright enough sun, there is so much natural light it would seem the lens was on the roof.
Light tubes are a DIY project that may only take a few hours. Before you try it, check the installation manual that most companies post online.
Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune