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Skylight or Sun Tunnel: What’s the Difference?

Skylight or Sun Tunnel

Everyone envisions their home to be a place bathed in the warm incandescence of sunlight. Nothing is better than the natural rays of the sun to make some place feel cozy and secure, after all. Not only does bringing more sunlight make your house feel like a home, it can also save you big bucks down the line. There are two options when it comes to bring more natural light inside that you can choose from: skylights and sun tunnels. 

But what is the difference between sky tunnels and skylights? Which is better for your home? Keep reading to find out!

What Is a Skylight?

Skylights are more or less a window that is attached directly to the rooftop of your home and allows for sunlight and additional ventilation when necessary. Skylights also add a feeling of more openness to smaller spaces or rooms without large windows. 

The features of skylights have changed throughout the years. During the 1960s and 1980s, skylights were more like bubbles made of acrylic that often—and unfortunately—leaked heavily during rainstorms. Thankfully, technology has create a new kind of skylight that is virtually leak-free and can add extra ventilation with just a push. Solar blinds can be installed to skylights to improve efficiency, as well. 

One downside to skylights is that they require a certain amount of space to install. Skylights require additional drywall, paint, and alterations to the framing of your house for insertion. To the homeowner, this can be a long and expensive process. However, skylights are an excellent investment to your home. Not only will the energy they save you recoup the costs, but they also add real estate value! 

There are different styles of skylights, such as acrylic domes made of Plexiglass. These usually come with tinting or glazing. Another option is flat glass, primarily by Velux. Lastly, bigger skylights consist of pyramid or vaulted skylights. Design options are very flexible and can be made according to specifications. 

What Is a Sun Tunnel?

The lesser known method for bringing more light into the interior would be the sun tunnel, also known as tubular skylights or sun tubes. Sun tunnels provide light, just as skylights do, but they are not a window that can be opened up. Because of this, sun tunnels are easier to install and have become a mainstay in more eco-friendly architectural projects and “green” buildings. 

Sun tunnels use polished sheet-metal tubing that acts like a mirror that funnels sunlight down the length of the tunnel. This helps preserve the intensity and warmth of the sunlight. 

When installing sun tunnels, the outside portion visible on the roof is capped with a weather-proof dome. The tube is completed with a diffuser that looks similar to a recessed light inside your home. During the day, the dome gathers the light, shuttles it through the tube, and the diffuser releases it into the space. Due to the unique design, sun tunnels can be used for smaller spaces that do not get sunlight, like bathrooms, hallways, closets, and the like. Flexible types will even bend to fit around obstacles.

Sun tunnels can be installed for a small percentage of what skylights cost, but if the tubing extends through multiple floor levels, the price escalates. 

Difference Between a Skylight and a Sun Tunnel

The main difference between skylights and sun tunnels is the size and placement. Skylights add more to the appearance of a room, because they open up a view to the sky. Having additional windows that can be opened, closed, vented, or shaded helps in manage heating and cooling throughout the year. 

Sun tunnels, on the other hand, do not give you a view and cannot be opened up. They can provide sunlight without any UV exposure and do not cause much heat gain in the summertime. 

Reasons To Get a Skylight or Sun Tunnel

With the differences between skylights and sun tunnels aside, it is worth mentioning the reasons you should get more natural light in your home. 

Here are the benefits of skylights and sun tunnels: 

• Reduced energy use – adding a skylight or sun tunnel can reduce dependency and artificial lighting and lower heating and cooling bills. 
• Reduction of mold and mildew – more natural lightning reduces the growth of mold and mildew, especially in humid, damp regions. 
• Natural sunlight – healthy doses prevents seasonal depression, Vitamin D and B deficiencies. Poor lighting causes headaches and eye fatigue, so more natural sun can make you feel more awake and energetic. 
• Visual appeal – natural illumination changes interior design by providing enhanced warmth, color, and spatial definition to architectural details. 


Skylights and sun tunnels are both excellent options for adding extra light to the house when installed properly by a professional roofing contractor in Downingtown, PA. Both can be altered to fit the unique layout of your household, but this does change the price. If you are looking for a more affordable option, sun tunnels are the way to go. Otherwise, skylights add appeal and natural light to your home, as well as ventilation. In the end, it comes down to price and energy efficiency! Which will you choose?

Having more questions about skylights and sun tunnels? Looking for more information? Fill out the contact form to get news delivered right to your inbox.

Want to learn more about whole home remodeling in PA? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Remodeling Your Luxury Home.

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