I want to install a solar tube to bring light to a room with no windows.

There are sadly no standards to be able to compare products in the market. I would expect a "lumens" spec that lets you compare light output of one product to another, like they have for LED lights for example.

Given such data doesn't exists, could anyone recommend (based on lumens and other features) between: 1. solatube 2. velux 3. whatever this is (sold via costco)

One thing I know is that I want frosted glass/plastic on the inside. I noticed velux has a huge dome vs solatube being a small dome, and the costco thing being not a dome at all... thoughts?

  • 6
    Caveat lector: The answers to this question show a pattern that is unusual for the site, in that several answers contain product information and were submitted by users who are not otherwise involved on the site. You should be aware that these answers may be so-called “astroturfing,” i.e., manufactured community activity as a marketing effort from or behalf of a product manufacturer. Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 16:28

7 Answers 7


Solatube Daylighting Systems come in 2 sizes, the 160 DS (10" in diameter) and the 290 DS (14"). The 160 DS produces up to 4600 lumens, while the 290 DS produces up to 9100 lumens. I have no idea what any other brand's lumen output is however, you will most always get more light with a Solatube brand due the fact that their tubing is made with Spectralight tubing (its patented) with 99.7% reflectivity. This means each time the light "bounces" down the tube, Solatube loses .3% of the light. With 5 "bounces" Solatube only loses 1.5%. If the tubing is less reflective - even by a couple of % points you potentially lose far more light.

Bottom line is you get much more pure light with a smaller opening. Not to mention the technology in the dome itself to capture more light in dawn and dusk hours and winter months.

Most areas have a dedicated Solatube dealer that can answer all your questions.

  • 2
    Reflectivity as given in percentage form is probably not a useful comparison, to be honest (and is this the CIE reflectivity or reflectance?). The shape of the tube, length of the tube, and configuration of the optics are all going to play a role in the perceived brightness. Additionally, it is not an additive loss in flux but rather a geometric loss with each reflection of an incident ray. The luminous flux (lumens), a measure of light perceived from all directions, is a far more useful measure. Without this value to compare it is hard to tell the difference.
    – user7116
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 19:02
  • Keep in mind where the tube is going to on the roof - one of our Solatubes is not as bright (yet bigger than the others) because we didn't bother (ie, spend more time/money) to aim the top part on some of the tube installs to reliably sunny areas.
    – r00fus
    Commented Feb 28, 2012 at 18:40
  • 4
    Sounds like Melissa works for Solatube
    – DA01
    Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 5:14

my name is Bruce and I work with VELUX. I would like to provide you with some insights into our SUN TUNNEL skylight products.

The reflectivity of the tunnel material used by Solatube is 99% reflective, while the tunnel material used by VELUX is 98% reflective (rigid tunnels). However, the VELUX tunnel comes with a 20-year warranty that it will remain highly reflective, while Solatube’s warranty is 10 years.

VELUX warranty link to pdf

Solatube warranty link

Reflectivity tests are conducted in a laboratory, but the light output of a tubular daylighting device will vary based on the orientation of the tunnel to the sun’s position in the sky, length of tunnel and time of day. The VELUX tunnel is designed to let the optimal amount of daylight into the home from as many different angles as possible. Our dome cap and our new flat glass cap allow the sun to penetrate the tunnel at many different angles. And the flat glass also sits low on the roof for an appealing appearance.

I hope this helps you in your decision making. If you have other questions about the VELUX tunnels please post here and I will do my best to answer them.

  • 2
    Thank-you for being up front and disclosing your affiliation with the company. Commented Oct 23, 2016 at 1:26

I have personally installed both of these products on many occasions. I can tell first hand that the completely clear dome provided by Velux drastically reduces light input on cloudy days. the Solatube is actually contoured to redirect light which makes a huge difference. I also have noticed how the Solatube seems to produce a way more natural lighting effect than the kind of funny color you get from the Velux. Solatube has way more options for the ceiling application too. You can get 6 different architectural glass lens rather than just a cheap plastic one. Cheaper is definitely not better! Solatube has a highest performance money back guarantee too.

I sent an email to Solatube regarding their Warranty. It turns out that because they constantly change and improve the product that is available internationally, they simply can't stock the astronomical amount of product that would pile up over the years. Velux can simply produce another top that hasn't improved at all over the years. They are both rated for the coastal high velocity wind zones.

BTW - you can get 3 sizes of Solatube 10" 14" and 21". The 21" are more common in commercial applications.

I have four Solatubes in my home and won't compromise.


The Solatube Dome is a big diffuser and diffuses the light before it enters the tube. I have personally tested their dome and a clear dome. The clear dome allows more light to enter the tube. When light hits a prism on a dome like Solatubes it actually blocks light. They obtained the technology from Sun Star when they bought them out 15 years ago. This technology is nothing new. It is a concentric prism originally designed by John Fresnel. This type of diffuser works great as a ceiling diffuser.

Solatubes Tubing is very bright at 99% but loses a lot of light on low angles, this is why they use a reflector in their dome. Their tubing is a plastic film bonded to aluminum and has been known to delaminate. In my opinion a better tubing is made by a german company called Alanod. They use a process where the coating is bonded by a chemical reaction.

Solatube only gives a 10 year warranty which is pretty lousy when you consider that its going on your roof in direct sunlight.

They tend to use alot of plastic in their system including their flashings.

There are many tubular skylights on the market today. Some are very poor. I would give solatube a 4 on a 1-10 scale.

Here are a few solar tube websites


Hope it helps

  • 1
    Would you have ratings for other solar tubes, on a 1 to 10 scale? A 4 for solatube is nice to know but relative to the others?
    – David
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 4:24
  • Also check out ODL. Like Solatube, they offer a remote controlled dimmer. Commented Jun 16, 2013 at 19:58

Melissa is right, the reflectance of the tube is essential, especially over longer distances.

You can also choose to compare products based on other important energy factors such as heat output during summer (Solar Heat Gain Co-Efficient) and heat loss during winter (U-Factor). I believe both companies, Velux & Solatuve have figures available for their products.

The other thing to consider is what sort of look/feel you want inside. You mention you wanted a Frosted Glass look. I believe Solatube offer a range of different diffusers & lens so that you can customise the look and feel of the light produced into the room.


Not only are the Solatube daylighting systems brighter than anything else on the market comparable in size, they also don't let in any UV light or heat, and the combined light spectrum they do transmit into your room is whiter. There is no lumens measurement, as the position and external light sources vary, but in optimum conditions, the 160DS will put through about 200 watts of light, and the larger 290DS will put through 300 watts. In addition to the spectra light infinity tube, the dome on the roof is what is termed a 'fresnel' lens, which essentially increases the surface area on which the light collects, and directs it down the tube.


Personally, I think a large factor is that the VELUX tubes will visually fit in with VELUX windows. The VELUX tubes will also make people think you can afford a loft extension – hopefully this is not a factor for you.

I don’t think there is that much to choose between the two leaning makes, but a lot of cheaper options give a lot less light.

(Also flexible tunnel are easier to install but don’t seem to give as much light as rigid tunnels.)

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.