Sun Tunnels: The Ultimate Guide For 2024

July 15th, 2019 BY First American Roofing

Sun tunnels are a great option to bring soft, natural light to your home where skylights aren’t practical. They have a small footprint, bring energy savings, and require minimal renovations to install. First American Roofing uses VELUX Sun Tunnel® Skylights that can be installed within an afternoon, making it one of the fastest and most inexpensive options you can find.

What Are Sun Tunnels?

Sun tunnels are a way to bring natural light into your home without having to do a full renovation or installation of a skylight or windows. If you have closets, hallways, or bathrooms that are just too dark, a sun or solar tunnel might be just what you need. These are places where there’s likely little to no natural light coming in, and light fixtures can only light so much. Sun tunnels can come with features like built-in bathroom fans and solar energy to gather power throughout the day and remain lit after sundown!

Sun Tunnels vs. Skylights

Technically sun tunnels and skylights do the same thing—bring natural light into your home. But, how they do it varies greatly, and each comes with its own set of benefits and downfalls. A skylight is essentially a windowpane that is installed directly into your roof. It will be tightly sealed to prevent water leaks, and is a great way to let in natural light to your home. You’ll often see them on vaulted ceilings and in kitchens to capture that great morning light.

Pros of Skylights

  1. More natural light.
  2. Save on energy and heating bills
  3. Gorgeous design options

Cons of Skylights

  1. Getting too MUCH light or warmth.
  2. Risk of leaks from poor installation.
  3. Heat loss in the winter.
  4. Difficult to clean.

Sun tunnels, on the other hand, can be installed in more unconventional places that need more natural light, but aren’t ideal for installing a skylight (like closets and hallways). This works because sun tunnels actually capture the sunlight on the roof through a dome and the light is then magnified and “bounced” through the tunnel into your desired light fixture in your home’s ceiling. This works by reflecting the light throughout the tunnel—rigid tunnels will bounce more light than flexible tubes.

Pros of Sun Tunnels

  1. Easy and quick install.
  2. Low maintenance.
  3. Brings natural light to interior rooms.
  4. No heat loss.
  5. Tons of design options—can look like a regular ceiling light fixture.

Cons of Sun Tunnels

  1. Can’t open like some skylights.
  2. No outside view of the sky.
  3. Cannot limit the amount of light without a dimmer installed.

Sun Tunnel Examples


Cost of Sun Tunnels

Adding a sun tunnel is a cost-effective way to add natural light to areas that need a brighter, more vibrant appearance. Using natural light from sun tunnels to illuminate your space allows homeowners to use less electrical energy, reducing monthly expenses and creating less heat than electrical lighting, keeping your home comfortable year-round.

There are two things that most affect the cost of getting your sun tunnel installed. One is the choice of materials you decide to use, and the second is the cost of labor to install. It also depends on where the sun tunnel is being installed, because the further away it is from the roof dome, the longer the tube will need to be. Thus, requiring more materials. Luckily material costs are fairly similar across the board, and will simply be a matter of choosing basic or premium materials at the time.

Most sun tunnels can be installed within the day, which is highly convenient but can drive up installation costs. Labor is probably the area where you’ll see the biggest change in cost depending on who you work with. Overall, you’re probably looking at anywhere between $600 and $1200 for your sun tunnel install. If you work with First American, you can save on the time commitment and expense of a remodel by taking advantage of our promotional Sun Tunnel installation for under $725*.

*After Energy Star Tax Credit. Includes 4′ of tunnel, additional tunnel or accessories have additional charges.

Sun Tunnel Brands

There are a few brands that most contractors will use in the industry for sun tunnels. These brands also offer skylight options as well. Natural Energy Light Systems and Kennedy are two big brands, but the most popular and widely-used is VELUX. We use VELUX skylights and sun tunnels at First American Roofing and swear by their quality and design.

Benefits of Natural Light

Natural sunlight is as good for your physical and mental health as it is for bringing light into your home. There are measurable benefits that come with exposing yourself to sunlight each day. If you work indoors for most of the day, then go home to a place that doesn’t allow a lot of natural light in, then you aren’t getting nearly enough Vitamin D. The “sunshine vitamin” is a crucial nutrient to our physical health and has been shown to prevent bone loss, reduce weight gain, lowers the risk of heart disease, and even various cancers.

Sunlight also helps fight against seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, that occurs when seasons change into Fall and Winter when there are shorter days but can be combated with more sunlight exposure. Mental and physical health can tie directly to how much sleep you get or the quality of sleep you are getting. If there is an imbalance in either of these, and you are depleted of Vitamin D, you will get poor sleep. So more sun equals better overall health and well-being. Sun tunnels can help!

Installing a Sun Tunnel

Sun tunnels are installed so that the natural sunlight coming down on your roof gets collected in the dome and reflects or shines down the tunnel into the fixture in your ceiling. There are differently shaped domes that can bend or reflect light so that you can get light in your house at all hours of the day. There are also different types of tunnels depending on the location of your install; they may be flexible tunnels to work around structures or straight tunnels when there is an open space to put it in.

For example, the tunnel will need to go from your roof, through your attic space, and into the ceiling of the room where you want it installed. An expert at First American Roofing and Siding can help you determine the best setup for your home that will not only look great but also save you money.

For more information or to get a free quote and assessment, contact First American Roofing. We can discuss what system is best for your home and how to get the most out of your sun tunnel. Give us a call at (608) 305-2257  or email us at