Locally Made Light Pipes

Andrea from Edmonton-owned website/marketplace raisingspaces.com recently informed me that Edmonton has it's very own local manufacturer of light pipes: Sunscope Natural Light Systems. We'll be considering their product first for the Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) because buying locally helps to create the vibrant local, green, living economy that we need.

A light pipe is a great way to get natural light to a room that has little or no windows in it. A light pipe, or sun tunnel or light tube, is essentially a pipe that sticks out of a building's roof and reflects sunlight into an interior room. Here's a good illustration:

light pipe (image from Wikipedia)

It will allow less energy to escape a home than will a skylight, because there is less surface area exposed to the outside, and because a light pipe has a large, insulating dead air space between the interior and the exterior glass. Besides being more energy efficient, they are also more durable than a skylight - my builder Peter says that most skylights will leak eventually. Because there is no place for water to pool around the circular light pipe, it has a much better chance of not causing problems.

The MCNZH has two interior, windowless, enclosed spaces on the second floor: the ensuite bathroom and the main bathroom. The master bedroom will be awash in extra light from the huge south-facing windows, so we have decided to simply install an interior window high up on the wall between the ensuite and the rest of the bedroom. That will provide plenty of natural light to the bathroom.



MCNZH - Second Floor Plan (light pipe in main bath and interior window in master bdrm.)

As for the main bathroom, we don't want to put a window in the wall because it would be in the shower/bathtub, and that just doesn't seem like a good idea. So we'll be installing a (hopefully locally manufactured) light pipe. The light is much nicer, and since we won't have to turn on the lights during daylight hours we'll save a little pile of Wabumun lake's coal from being burned up.

(cross posted at raisingspaces.com)

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Hei conrad:

I have one of these sun tunnels as they call them, at my place here on the island.

IT is awesome. It comes out of the roof looking like a dome. it is only 2" in diameter.
The light comes down through a tunnel and gets dispersed into the kitchen through a dispersion plate.
There is also a sqiggle bulb inside of the tunnel to turn on during the nighttime which gives nice light too.

During the evening when the sun is not directly hitting the window in the kitchen, the dome collects so much ambient light and sends it down into the kitchen. quite remarkable.

IN the days with low lying sun, these domes would be ideal for a north room. It can bring in that precious ambient light, without the energy losing windows.


I'm glad you like yours...I hope we like ours as much.

Hi Conrad, Isn't the loft directly above that second bathroom? Not sure if a Light Pipe would work, unless you try to put it close to the exterior wall and box in the part that runs through the loft.

Also, you want to make sure that the interior dome  is well sealed to the tube, and ideally at least two layers of plastic (it's like a window). In addition, if the tube runs through an attic, the outside of the tube should be insulated to limit the risk of condensation on the inside. With your sloped ceiling this isn't a big deal.

Cheers, Philip

I'm thinking of buying a one level home that has a solar light tube installed and I'd like to have it removed or repositioned elsewhere. The present placement is very awkward and doesn't add anything positive to the space.

Is this a difficult or expensive to remove?

Any idea would be appreciated.


I have been reading your blog and I do notice that you didn't mention anything about the type lighting you have installed. i'm looking to gut renovation for my two family house. I'm wandering what type of lighting are you using. I'm looking at air tight high hats right. I went to my local homedepot and they don't look that great.


We installed almost entirely compact fluorescent lighting. However, LEDs are finally hitting the mainstream. Harvey from ledlightscanada.com tells me that you can install LEDs wherever you used to put halogens.

Since halogen lights are so nice (quality-wise), and LEDs are so durable and non-toxic, I would look into that option.

Whatever you do, don't install incandescents or halogens. They are just heaters that happen to emit a bit of light.


I would love to use all LEDs but the number is still out of my range. I think I'll go with CFLs for now. Did you use air tight recessed light for your house? If you did which company did you use.


We didn't use air tight recessed lights.

Light tubes look great. we have two skylights that, although providing nice lighting< cause lots of trouble re: leaking. In regardin to saving coal, dont forget Bullfrog power!

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