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12 Nov 2019

What’s better? LED lighting or a tubular skylight?

While some people might argue that light is light, no matter where it comes from, there is a distinct difference between natural light through a skylight and the light generated by LED light bulbs.

About natural light

Natural light (aka sunlight) is full spectrum, in other words it contains all the colours of the rainbow (ROYGBIV – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). Natural light is also dynamic, which means the intensity and colours of light (wavelengths) change according to the time of day, time of year, weather and position on the planet.

These changes synchronize our circadian rhythms and hormone cycles, so our mood, energy, metabolism, sleep and recovery depend on exposure to natural light. All animals (including us) and plants need natural light for health and wellness.

Exposure to sunlight is particularly important for people who don’t sleep well, because it helps to regulate the hormone that’s responsible for making us sleepy at night.

About artificial light

Artificial light is composed of visible light as well as some ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiations. The blue components of artificial light have the greatest potential to cause us harm.

There are concerns that blue light affects human circadian cycles and the hormonal system, resulting in a wide range of conditions, including sleep disorders, immune system disorders, macular degeneration and osteoporosis. Some modern lighting sources, such as CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and LEDs (light emitting diodes) can produce relatively high levels of blue light.

Increasingly, LED lights are being used in offices, headlights, torches, toys, homes and street lighting, so it’s becoming more important to ensure we all get enough natural light exposure during the day.

How to get more natural light into your home

If your home has dark areas, particularly south-facing and internal hallways, there’s an easy way to bring natural light streaming in – tubular skylights by Solatube (also called tubelights and sun tunnel skylights). Compared to larger, opening skylights, like the roof windows made by Velux, Solatube skylights are inexpensive and quick to install.

Would Solatube daylighting suit your home?

Villas and bungalows, with their high pitched roofs, are ideal for Solatube skylights. The sun tube has one of the most reflective surfaces in the world, so the light is bounced all the way down into your home from the outside. A three-metre long Solatube sun tunnel only loses 3% of the light it collects, beaming 97% into your home. And all this is achieved without having to construct the large fly and spider gathering ceiling-to-roof void that other types of skylights require.

Arts and crafts homes, often built in the early 1900s, are architecturally another style that benefits from Solatube skylights. Mirroring the classic English country cottage, they typically have high pitched roofs and relatively small windows. Descrete, and resembling a flush light fitting, Solatube skylights can brighten the inside of these homes without destroying the beautiful interior design.

Mid-century New Zealand homes began to embrace an emerging indoor/outdoor lifestyle, with larger windows and doors in the living area. Kitchens and bathrooms however, were often small and tucked away with windows that provided limited natural lighting. Hallways leading to bedrooms were also narrow and under-lit. Solatube skylights in kitchens, bathrooms and hallways have transformed many of these homes. The added light makes the spaces seem much larger and removes the slightly low-budget feel.

Even in today’s new-builds, Solatube skylights are providing new levels of design freedom. This is leading to innovative floorplans, creating modern homes that offer effortless family living.