Light at the End of the Tunnel, Literally

I love my house.  It was built over 50 years ago and when we first purchased it there was little in the way of updates.  Since then we have redone just about every room on the main level and second floor.  Some things we had professionals do, but most were done through the help of friends, family, and a lot of sweat equity on our part.   It is not a very big house, but this is our forever house.  We love the location; we love our neighbors; and we love the view.  And there is nothing like sipping your morning coffee (as I am now) while listening to the birds happily chirping and being surrounded by trees and foliage.

Yet, there was one thing about the house that had troubled me for some time.  My master bedroom and the hallway on the second floor were very dark.  The one window in my room was just not enough to brighten up the space and it was driving me crazy.  I felt like it was affecting my mood sometimes, especially on cloudy days.  With my husband's impending deployment, I told him we needed to do something about the darkness or I was just going to be miserable for the next few months.

We decided to install solar tubes.  If you don't know what those are, solar tubes reflect the sun through a mirror like tube that runs from the roof to the living space.  They do not use electricity, so if you are constantly turning lights on and off in a certain area, these are good alternatives.  After a lot of research and looking at several reviews of different brands, I settled on Solatube.  Solatube lighting apparently better reflected natural light and you can purchase additional accessories such as shutters in case you need to darken the space (such as 5 am when you are still trying to sleep).  Unfortunately, they were not sold by my local Home Depot and I could not find a way to order them online, so I had to drive about 45 minutes away to purchase then from a dealer.

With his hectic schedule, my husband was unable to help me install them, but thankfully my dad came for a visit and the both of us tackled the problem.  The mechanics of the installation where actually not that complicated and I presume 100 times easier than trying to install skylights.  However, because of the awkward areas we were working in; being super careful; and then my dad stepping on a nail, the process to install two tubes took us about 9 hours.  I read reviews of people being able to install one in 2 hours.  It is definitely possible, but we took our time and did a practice installation on a piece of cardboard before we cut a whole in the roof.

The results were better than expected.  These tubes do indeed work as advertised and were worth every penny.  On cloudy days, those two areas are the brightest spots in the house!  The before and after pictures were all taken without flash around the same time of day.  I actually do not believe the pictures do this product justice as it just feels so much brighter once you are actually in the room.

Sadly, the before picture was taken with the curtains drawn open.

On a final note, I saw some people complain in the reviews that the materials were pretty cheap looking for the amount that the tube costs (apps. $320 each with the extension).  During the installation, one of the domes fell from the second story of our roof unto the brick patio.  I was certain the dome had cracked and reluctantly went to retrieve it.  When I picked up the dome it was intact!  These domes can definitely take some punishment.  I am not exactly sure what materials were used to make these, but they work and that is really what matters to me.

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