Best Way to Add Natural Light

Answered by Brett ~ April 9, 2010 ~ Comments

The kitchen in my San Francisco home gets little natural light and I'd like more because I spend lots of time there. Which would serve me better: a skylight, solar tube, or something else? Why?

Yuko M. ~ San Francisco, California

Brett Kulina

While the addition of either a Solar Tube or a skylight will bring the needed natural light into your kitchen, your existing ceiling will determine which choice is appropriate for your home. If your kitchen's ceiling is vaulted then you can probably use either a traditional skylight or a Solar Tube. On the other hand, if your kitchen has a flat ceiling, with an attic or truss space above it, then a Solar Tube be the better option.

Solar Tubes are excellent choices for remodels, because the tube can collect and funnel the natural light through an overhead attic or around the framing of ceiling trusses. The tubes do not have to be straight, so you can install the roof-top collector in a convenient location and then place the interior light-diffuser in just the right place(like over a kitchen island or work space). Skylights, on the other hand can not ""move"" light, and need to be installed within the roof exactly where you want the natural light to enter the room.

The advantage of a skylight is that it can be opened, which allows fresh air to enter your house. You can also look out of skylights to see overhead trees and the blue San Francisco sky. Solar Tubes do not offer these advantages, but will do a fine job of bringing more natural light into your kitchen. I would consult with a professional contractor in your area to determine what would work best for your specific roof and ceiling.

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