Solatube International has always been a product that is near and dear to our hearts here at Specialties Plus. The effectiveness of these tubular daylighting devices (TDD’s as they are known in the daylighting industry) never ceases to amaze me. When you consider the simple design and try to understand why the Solatubes are so effective, you’ll notice that there are three distinct keys to successes in the design of any TDD.
- How well do you capture the light?
- How well do you transfer the light?
- How well do you distribute the light?
Solatube is the TDD “king of the hill” because of how well they perform in these three key areas. The Solatube domes capture light very effectively with the use of both fresnel ridges and lenses. These lenses direct low angle light into the tube along with the Raybender© technology reflectors that also capture low angles of sun in order to direct the rays down into the tube. So, the capture zone is taken care of quite nicely.
The transfer zone is probably my favorite because we get to talk about the reflectivity levels of the tubes themselves. By using a non-metallized surface, Solatube is able to provide reflectivity levels that are unmatched in the industry. To be more exact, the specular reflectivity of the tubing is 99.7%. This means that for every light bounce, the product only loses .3% effectiveness. Our closest competitor is sitting at 98%. Still a high number, right? While the number appears high, light can often bounce up to 10 times in a 4′-0″ tube run depending on the time of day and geographical location (think billiards balls and bank shots). So….let’s say the tube is 10′ long and the light is bouncing 12 times before leaving the end of the tube. Solatube only loses 3.6% reflectivity while the other “high number” has lost 24%. Still think that number is high?
Finally, the delivery zone is addressed with the use of the same fresnel technology that is used in the previously mentioned dome construction. The Prismatic© Diffuser distributes the light in a way that gives you a connection to the outside world while directing light to the intended areas. And to top all this off, the resulting natural color renditions within the space are spectacularly correct.
Armed with this information, check out the pictures taken from a recent project in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Safety Council is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, public service organization which promotes the adoption of safety, health, and environmental practices and procedures that prevent and mitigate human suffering and economic loss. The space was designed by Gene Lavastida at Prime Architects and constructed by Silvercliffe Construction Company just last year. Mr. Lavastida was most concerned with flooding the space with an aesthetically pleasing daylighting option while maintaining the foot-candles of lighting necessary without electric lights. As the exterior building picture displays, these photos were taken at 8:55 a.m. CST on an overcast day. With that being said, there is a tremendous amount of daylight transferred to the interior space through the Solatubes as demonstrated by the interior photo.
After seeing some photos of the completed project, I was very interested in reaching out to the director of the Oklahoma Safety Council, Dave Koeneke, for his thoughts and impressions on the day-lit space. Here are some of his comments…
“One of the best things our architect designed into our new warehouse. We rarely have to turn lights on in our warehouse and almost never on a sunny day. Light dispersion is even throughout the 5,000 sq ft area with our 6- 29″ tubes.”
We obviously love hearing success stories like this one and as the drive for effective daylighting continues to increase, so do Solatube stories like this one! Would you like to explore daylighting options for your commercial space? Our team is available to assist with light studies for designers and building owners in order ensure proper light levels and appropriate product selection. Just give us a call or email one of our team members!