New Solar Tube In The Hallway

Lighting really does make all the difference in the world. My hallway has always been so dark, and then when I turned the light on, it cast such heavy shadows everywhere. There’s nothing that compares to natural light, so I had a solar tube installed in the hallway.

And now here’s what my hallway looks like with the natural light from the solar tube plus the ceiling light…

hallway with solar tube and ceiling light turned on

And here it is without the ceiling light on…

hallway with solar tube

I love it! And as you can see, I also had one of the doors replaced. They’re here right now replacing the other two.

The solar tube I used is this 10″ Velux Sun Tunnel from Home Depot. I also had to purchase two of the 24-inch extensions, although they only needed a few inches from the second extension. Here’s what it looks like in my attic, from the ceiling of the hallway to the roof.

solar tube ducts inside attic

And then on the roof, there’s a little dome.

dome from solar tube on roof

I probably get less light from my Sun Tunnel than some would because for many hours of the day, my big oak tree in the front yard is blocking the direct sunlight from the dome of the Sun Tunnel. But I’m okay with that…and certainly would never consider getting rid of my tree.

Now I want more! Of course, I don’t want to get crazy with them, because it’s always wise to limit the number of penetrations through a roof. They do make some where you just have one dome on the roof that leads to several tunnels in the attic that can be fed to different rooms. But when you have an attic with limited space like mine, having those tunnels spidering throughout the attic would really limit mobility up there.

Really, the only other room I can think of where I’d want a Sun Tunnel is my studio. You might remember that I had actually asked for two skylights in the original plan, but that idea fell through. But now I’m wondering if Sun Tunnels would work in there. I had just assumed that they wouldn’t work since there’s no attic, and just 5.5 inches between the roof and the ceiling drywall with 2″ x 6″ framing between. But I watched as they installed this one, and I really think it might work. It looked to me like you could cut the ducts down to be as short as needed. So I’m going to look into it. It may not work at all, but I’m hopeful! I’d love to have three of them in the studio, if possible.

Have any of you ever seen solar tubes installed on vaulted ceilings with little space between the ceiling and the roof? I’m curious.

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  1. It looks great Kristi! I love how unassuming the dome is on top of your house, too. We have a large skylight in our “new” home in the kids bathroom, and it lets in so.much.heat. We definitely have some upgrading to do. 😆

      1. Yes, thank you. I’ve been so busy in all aspects of this home, some of these “little” things have just frustrated me.

  2. Yup. I think I suggested these to you before. We have a vaulted roof with not much space and we have six in total throughout the house. They make a phenomenal difference in dark rooms. And we have the kind that have solar lights in them so they also provide light at night (can be removed) and it’s totally solar powered.

  3. I love watching your progress and it inspires me to do more myself, than calling someone in which costs more.

    I just wanted to let you know of a better system for light tubes, other than solatube and velux.

    The company is called Lightway.

    My husband runs the UK devision of this company.

  4. I’m so glad you did this post! I have been considering adding a solar tube in my windowless hallway for a couple of years now. I didn’t know you could purchase them from Home Depot. I have gotten a couple of estimates from skylight contractors in my area, who installed yours? If you don’t mind me asking, what did the installation cost run you? Thanks for the info, I love reading your blog.

    1. The guys who installed mine are the same ones I have do many of the jobs around my house, like drywall, sanding my floors for refinishing, installing doors, etc. If you’re in the area, I’d be happy to give you their contact info. They charged me $250 for installation. At first I thought that sounded kind of high, especially considering the prices they give me for other things (i.e., $700 for drywalling, taping, and mudding the breakfast room and pantry, but it really was kind of involved. It involved cutting into the roof, plus in order to put mine exactly where I wanted it, they had to remove and replace a big 12-foot support beam in the attic so that it could be moved over about 18 inches. So a basic installation that doesn’t involve moving big support beams might be less.

  5. My husband bought and installed ours and it’s just the best source of natural light for our dark family room! We still need to do a hallway but no rush on that project. I believe our attic clearance is 3’ so not sure about the limited space you’re talking about. Your hallway lights look great.

  6. Wow – so much light! And what’s on the roof, I doubt I’d have even noticed it if not pointed out!

    My only concern would be since heat rises, will you lose heat in the winter?? I have never researched how those things works? Maybe the dome is layers of glass with air gaps for insulation like modern windows?


    1. The dome is actually a really thick acrylic. The diffuser that goes in the room seems to be designed to prevent loss of heat. It looks like two layers of acrylic with an air gap, and it has a rubber ring around the edge to seal it.

  7. we have to reroof my studio, and we’re thinking of sun tunnels, as it’s a flat rolled membrane roof; i doubt that conventional skylights would work out.
    i’ve been looking and looking at the sun tunnels, and i do really think that’s our best option.
    so i vote yes for you to put them in your studio

  8. Aaccording to velux:” The minimum space between your roof deck and your ceiling should be 12 inches because you must use at least one Elbow (12″ tall) for your installation. Thank you for choosing VELUX!”
    Hope that helps.

  9. I have them in my bathroom, hallway, and kitchen which are all ceilings nailed to the underneath of the beams to which the roof is nailed. No clearance at all in there. I have two at either end of my office, work space. No lights need get switched on at our place during the day ever … well, unless it is a very gloomy day. Spent the first few months continually trying to turn the ‘lights’ off as I left each room! Ha ha!

  10. I have a Sola-Tube in my kitchen. There is no attic. We put it in 17 years ago and it’s been fine ever since.


  11. I learn so much from your blog Kristi. I had not heard of solar tubes before and I’m impressed how much natural light it lets in. It’s such a great solution for your hallway!

  12. I have one in my upstairs room; I had ordered a large one but they had to change it out for a smaller one due to the spacing in my rafters. My only regret is I didn’t put one over my tub. There’s no electric light there and there is an archway that blocks all the light
    from the medicine cabinet. I’m sure if I was as skilled as you I could tear the danged thing out, but alas, I’m not. I’m in awe and quite jealous of your building talent.
    Love the light fixture too. ( I also tried to ‘turn the light out’ after I had my Solatube installed!!!)

  13. This is what I was told by a company that installs solar tubes in our area when I looked into them a few years ago. I wanted to install them in an attic bedroom with a ceiling set up much like Kristi’s studio. Vaulted ceiling up to the ridge line. I believe the solar tubes work somewhat on the same principal as a periscope, with the sunlight reflecting on a reflective surface in the elbow and then down to the light. I think it might also mean that it can’t be a straight shot from the roof bubble to the inside light no matter the distance.

  14. I have two solar tubes in my craft room, which was an unfixed attic space without windows. I love them.

  15. That is an amazing amount of light from such a small tube. Really makes all the difference in your hallway! These, or skylights, would be amazing in your studio, think of all that gorgeous natural light! I imagine you’d probably save quite a bit of $ over time on electric bills.

  16. Why not use just a polycarbonate or glass skylight in your studio, instead of the Solar Tubes? I can’t remember why you nixed skylights in the first place.
    There’s a product called Lumira Aerogel that you can get inside the sandwich panels of a polycarbonate skylight. It ends up making the skylight opaque, but it provides an increased R-value. I know you can definitely get it from Wasco, not sure about other suppliers.

    1. I nixed them because all of the contractors and installers I talked to about them told me how much they hate skylights because they say that they’ll all inevitably leak and need to be replaced or repaired. I couldn’t find even one of them who had anything good to say about skylights.

      1. Now I remember. Well, as a person who designs roofs for a living, I tend to agree with them. BUT, the lighting you have in your hallway now is worth the sealant or roof cement repairs you might have to do every few years (at least in my opinion). 🙂

      2. I once was told “there are two kinds of skylights: Ones that leak and ones that are going to leak.” And I’m living that reality right now!

  17. The natural light looks amazing. In contrast, the ceiling/light bulb color looks too yellow…….at least in the photo. Have you tried Cree, soft white? Might be worth trying out other bulbs before you finalize hallway color.

    1. I have Phillips soft white LEDs in there right now. I think the light from them might appear more yellow in the picture than in person. I originally tried the Phillips daylight LEDs, and they were awful. It was like having bight fluorescent lighting in my hallway.

  18. I don’t understand the pictures and where the solar tube is in relation to your semi-flush light. Can you show me?

  19. This is such a good idea, as others have said aswell it’s a very subtle addition to the outside of your house and a great improvement on the inside, good job.