Are solar skylights comparable to traditional skylights? Daylighting systems specialist Solatube Australia believes solar skylights should be compared to LED light globes rather than a traditional skylight.
There has been a steady influx of solar skylights, mostly imported, in the market with prices ranging from $50 to $650. A solar skylight that will provide comparable performance to any LED light globe will cost a minimum of $250 and comes with a warranty of approximately 1-3 years. When you compare this cost against two 10W LED bulbs priced at $39 each and a life of over 10 years on average, a solar skylight seems to be an expensive option.
Solatube Australia believes natural light through a traditional skylight is a much better option than LED lighting. What the Building Code of Australia (BCA) has to say about natural light and solar skylights substantiates this point.
On solar skylights, the BCA has found issues with warranty, cheap imports becoming potential fire hazards, and solar panels losing efficiency.
On the issue of warranty, BCA says that solar skylights are packed with electrical components with the ‘long warranties’ invariably excluding particular parts.
Cheap imports can be dangerous with some already recalled due to a potential fire hazard.
About solar panels losing efficiency over time, BCA says that the efficiency drops substantially and the panel even stops working if any part of the panel is covered, say, with leaves or dirt.
Solatube is passionate about natural light and believes that ‘solar skylights’ are not skylights and should not be misrepresented as such to customers. Comparison of such lights should only be done with LED lights.
Natural light Vs artificial light
Natural light improves living conditions and the wellbeing of homeowners, safeguarding occupants from illness or loss of amenity.
Artificial light safeguards occupants from injury, by providing visibility at night or in the dark.
Lastly, since solar skylights or solar powered LEDs can only run during the day, it’s a lot of money to spend just so you don’t have to turn on the light switch!
To help you make up your mind about which option is better for you, do this small experiment: Find two dark rooms and put a plant in each. Install a tube skylight in one and a solar skylight in the other. Decide on the most suitable option after seeing the results.