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Most homeowners strive for a bright and inviting interior space. But some older homes can lack natural daylight, with dark rooms in the centre of the plan and some rooms without any windows at all. If you’re thinking a rear kitchen extension will solve the problem, remember that glazed doors can only get so much light into your home. But sun tunnels are a way to channel daylight from overhead.

What is a sun tunnel?

A sun tunnel is a way to capture daylight and diffuse it into your home. These will typically sit on the roof in places where it might not be possible to install a skylight. A sun tunnel is particularly useful for rooms that get little to no natural light normally, such as dark corridors or utility and storage rooms.

From the outside, a sun tunnel looks like a small dome mounted on your roof – and they can be used on both pitched and flat roofs. There are two options – a ridged or a flexible sun tunnel. A rigid sun tunnel is effectively a straight-down shot from the dome on the roof down to the room that you’re trying to illuminate. Whereas a flexible sun tunnel will allow you to channel light into a room that isn’t necessarily directly beneath the dome.

How does a sun tunnel work?

Unlike a rooflight, sun tunnels don’t actually flood your home with direct natural light. Instead, the sunshine is captured by the dome and then reflected via a series of mirrors down a tube. That light is then diffused into the room for a softer effect. The dome is typically made of polycarbonate glazing for durability. Plus, the domed shape means that rainwater will run off the surface easily, so they are a low-maintenance option that will rarely need cleaning.

Because there’s no direct sunlight, sun tunnels can be particularly effective in walk-in wardrobes or music/art studios, where direct light can cause fading. Sun tunnels also allow you to bring in natural light to rooms that may not have any windows or doors to the outside. Just bear in mind that the room may not be as bright as it would be if you used a skylight.

Should I use a sun tunnel or rooflight?

A big benefit of sun tunnels is that they are more compact than rooflights. So, if your roof simply isn’t big enough for a roof window – perhaps because you’ve got solar panels or because the dome needs to go into an awkward space – then a sun tunnel is ideal. Sun tunnels are also often cheaper to purchase, and require less labour on site, so they are a cost-effective option to bringing light into dark areas of your home. Plus, most competent rooflight installers should have the skills to fit your sun tunnel, so there’s plenty of options for finding the right trade. Read our guide to getting the right installer here.

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