Solar tubes and skylights are both useful additions to your home or business to aid in the building’s solar energy efficiency. However, when it comes to which is better, it depends a lot on your situation. After all, both serve their purpose adequately. 

So, to help you choose the right solar option, this mini-guide will introduce you to both solar tubes and skylights, as well as showcase the pros and cons of each purchase.

Solar tubes, or more lovingly referred to as sun tunnels, are 10-to-14-inch-diameter sheet-metal tubes with a polished interior. The inside of these tubes acts as a mirror, channeling the light through without dispelling its intensity. Despite its size, solar tubes can shine a beam of light down into a room with an intensity that helps keep the room lit, as well as adding to the natural light in the room. 

Traditionally though, solar tubes did not actually have any solar energy producing qualities. However, with new advancements, revolutionary models are equipped with photovoltaic technologies to provide artificial lighting when the sun isn’t shining.

The following addresses both the pros and cons of solar tubes and their role within the advancement in solar energy technology:

Pros of Solar Tubes

Solar tubes have many unique and intriguing benefits, which are making sun tunnels a worthy adversary of skylights.

Here are the pros of solar tubes:

  • Easier to Install: Solar tubes are much easier to install in homes or offices. Plus, they are much less invasive than creating a skylight. In fact, there are even DIY kits available and since so little interior remodeling is needed, even a novice should be able to get it done with relative ease.

  • Cost: The cost of the average solar tube is up to 50% cheaper than installing a skylight. The main reason for this cost difference, though, is that skylights always require a professional, while the installation of solar tubes do not.

  • Buyers Can Receive an Energy Tax Reduction: Since there are solar energy benefits available with the installation of solar tubes, it is possible for buyers to receive an energy tax reduction. Of course, make sure that you are getting the most energy-efficient solar tube and keep the receipt so that you can receive the highest benefit available.

Cons of Solar Tubes

Even with having so many positive reasons to install solar tubes, there are a few reasons that some people decide to go with the alternative natural light method.

Here are the cons of installing solar tubes:

  • Solar Tubes are Subject to Damage: Instead of a window as with a skylight, at the top of the solar tube on the outside of your house or workplace is a waterproof dome. While it is designed to be durable, the dome and thus, the tube, is subject to damage. Heavy rain and other intense weather conditions can weaken the resolve of the dome. This could open your home up to water damage and other issues without you even realizing there is a problem.

  • Solar Tubes Cannot Be Opened: Solar tubes do not have a way of being opened. Due to the airtight nature of the top of the dome, which is needed to keep the inside of your home from being exposed to the outside, it cannot be opened.

  • There is No View of the Sky: Skylights have always had an almost magical appeal, as you can always see the sky. Solar tubes, on the other hand, do not have this option. This is because solar tubes are too small and they serve a slightly different purpose than skylights.


Skylights are windows that are embedded into your roof. These windows are usually made out of glass, acrylic, or polycarbonate. There are different sizes of window and sometimes, there can be multiple skylights in one room. 

Skylights can completely light up a room and bring a rejuvenated feel to every day. Yet, there is no direct solar energy production available currently. Still, having the natural light of a skylight can improve your mood, as well as the value of your home.

Here are the pros and cons of installing a skylight: 

Pros of Skylights

The benefits of having a skylight are often exceedingly evident. The beauty, charm, and positivity that encapsulates a room with a well-placed skylight is emphatic.

Here are the pros that will come with a skylight:

  • Could Add to a Home’s Resale Value: Skylights are pretty and they are usually one of the first things a potential buyer notices when they walk in the home. Therefore, having a well-taken care of skylight can add to the resale value of your home, just by existing in the right spot.

  • Accentuates a Room: Sunshine is always pleasant and therefore, having a skylight has a way of positively accenting a room and helping to showcase its best qualities. Plus, having a lot of natural light in a room helps you to always give it a thorough clean.

  • Can be Vented or Shaded: You have the option to shade or vent your skylight. That way, you can combat the shine of consistent UV rays.

Cons of Skylights

A skylight can be mesmerizing and it undoubtedly adds value to your home, but that isn’t all. There are some disadvantages that can come with having a skylight of any shape or size.

Here are the cons of having a skylight in your home or office:

  • Can Be Expensive: Unfortunately, installing and maintaining a skylight can be expensive. The installation is difficult, not only because of the in-depth home modification that is needed; but also because of the height. Plus, the maintenance can be expensive if the window needs to be washed or fixed, again, due to the height.

  • Not Overly Energy Efficient: In addition to having no direct energy power creating benefit, skylights can heat up a house. This is only mildly beneficial in colder months and in warmer months, it makes any system work harder. This means that it is going to cost you more money and it is adding to the wear of your cooling system.

  • Can Fade Anything in the Stream of Light: Constant UV rays can fade anything that is constantly in the path of the light from a skylight. The affected faded area could be from anything from a couch to carpet, or even the floor. Plus, long exposure of UV rays on the skin can cause major issues.

To close, if you are looking for a unique, natural stream of light to brighten a room and make it more appealing, you want a skylight. However, if you are looking for an energy-efficient and affordable way to light specific areas in your home, you are looking to install a solar tube.