How to bring natural sunlight into a residential or commercial building

by | Apr 5, 2010 02:23 PM ET

Let's say that you have a home or a commercial space and you would like to use natural sunlight rather than fluorescent lights to light things up. If you have a single-story building (or if the space you want to illuminate is adjacent to the roof), you could use traditional skylights. A traditional skylight is essentially a window in the roof.

But what if a traditional skylight is not an option? Here are three other possibilities:

1) The Solatube

The idea is fairly simple: Put a dome on the roof to let sunlight in, lead the sunlight down a tube coated on the inside with a mirror finish, and then let the sunlight into a room with a hole in the ceiling. This video explains the basic idea:

This video shows you how to do the installation:

More info:

2) The Sundolier

The Sundolier uses a parabolic collector on the roof that tracks the sun. The sunlight enters the building through a tube in a manner similar to the Solatube, and then is distributed once inside the building. This video shows you how the Sundolier has been used to provide natural light inside a library:

More info: Sundolier and Sundolier Robot Pumps Sunlight Indoors for Powerful Daylighting

3) Fiber optic systems

In a fiber optic system, a parabolic collector on the roof channels sunlight into a bundle of fiber optic threads. This threads can then plug into fixtures wherever light is needed in the building. This is probably the most flexible system. Here is a description of the system offered by Sunlight Direct:

Several companies are developing this idea, which is sometimes called Hybrid Solar Lighting or HSL:

Fiber Optic Solar Lighting Roundup

More info:

[[[Jump to previous How To - Learn how to throw lethal playing cards]]]

More To Explore