If you're converting your attic into livable space, one of the hardest things to do is to get enough natural light into the room. The absence of windows can make even the most cheerfully decorated room seem drab, but taking away from the available wall space to add windows can make decorating difficult. Skylights and solar tubes are both great alternatives to additional windows. Here's what to consider when deciding between the two.
Skylights add brighter light and more ventilation.
One of the advantages that skylights have over solar tubes is that they're generally bigger, which means that they bring more outdoor light inside. They can also be designed so that they can be opened, which can be a huge advantage if you want to add some extra ventilation to your attic or are worried about the humidity in the air.
However, it's important to keep in mind the way the sun passes over your house when planning your skylights—skylights in the south side of a roof can end up overheating your attic while skylights in the north side of a roof will provide a soft light all day but won't give you any bright periods of sun, which could disappoint you if that's what you're wanting.
Skylights are moderately expensive, with an average cost of $920-$2,114, but that figure has to be multiplied by the number of skylights that you want in the room. It's generally not a DIY project because it requires some rather advanced carpentry skills.
Solar tubes are less expensive and offer steadier light.
Solar tubes are a relatively new addition to the market and they have some advantages over skylights. A solar tube requires a smaller space for installation and its construction, which includes a polished interior, acts like the mirror that channels captured light from the roof to the inside of your home through a diffuser, which creates a steady, dramatic glow that you may appreciate in an attic space. Since the light is diffused, the exact position of the solar tube isn't as important as it is with a skylight, which makes them a more versatile choice if you're working around a problematic rafter design in your attic.
They're also cheaper than skylights. Depending on the type of roof that you have, each solar tube only costs about $700, including installation. Like skylights, they're also not really suited to a DIY project because of the carpentry skills involved and the need to make sure that they're properly sealed against the elements.
They do have one disadvantage against skylights, however, because they can't be vented in the same way. If the ventilation is important to your ultimate design goals, the skylight is the better choice.
For more information about either skylights or sky tubes, talk to a roofing contractor today. Your contractor can help you make the choice based on the shape of your attic and your ultimate goals. Roofers like Independent Roofing Inc can help as well.