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Child washing hands in bathroom lit by daylight from a solatube daylighting system

Rigid vs Flexible Daylighting Systems 

We are often asked about the difference between daylighting systems that use flexible tube material rather than the rigid tubes used in Solatube Daylighting Systems. Are flexible tube systems easier to install? How efficient are they at transferring light from rooftop to the room below? Are they cheaper to buy? 

Why is Solatube so much better value for money? 

Flexible daylight systems are generally cheap to buy. If cost is the highest priority when purchasing a daylighting system, then you or your builder may opt for a flexible system. But are you really saving money? 
Independent tests have proved that you would need 10 flexible light tube systems to match the light output of just one Solatube Daylighting System.  
This was the result when the Building Research Establishment tested our Solatube system – size for size – against the flexible tube system of the most widely-known roof light manufacturer. Please contact us if you would like a copy of the independent report. 

Ease of installation 

Every Solatube system comes with two 0-30 degree angles as standard to make installation easier (0-90 degree angles are available too) — so there is no need to compromise quality and performance for (perceived) ease of installation. 
2 x 0-30 degree adjustable angles with every Solatube system diagram

What about efficiency? 

As already mentioned, a single Solatube Daylighting System can provide more than 10 times the light of a similar sized flexible system. Tube material plays a large part in the superior performance of the Daylighting System; our rigid tubing use Spectralight Infinity 99.7% reflective tube material which transfers light evenly and efficiently down the tube to the room below.  
Unique to Solatube, this material loses only 0.3% of the light at each bounce down the tube. By contrast, a flexible tube, with its concertinaed foil lining, reflects light in all directions (including upwards!) resulting in very poor light output – see below. 
Diagram showing 94.17% light output after 20 bounces of light from 99.7% reflectivity from Solatube's Daylighting System, 66.76% from 98% reflective systems, 35.85% output from 95% reflective systems and 9.72% light output from Flexible Duct daylighting systems
So while flexible systems may be perceived by some as the easier, cheaper option, they will never match the quality, light output and efficiency of a rigid tube system. In continental Europe, flexible systems are shunned owing to their poor performance and quality. In the UK, however, while the professional community rarely specify them, some homeowners and builders are tempted by the big brand name or use them simply because they are readily available at builder’s merchants and are cheap. 
If you want a quality, efficient tubular daylighting system that delivers high levels of daylight into your home, make sure you (or your builder!) steer clear of flexible tube systems! 
Transforming your home with daylight 
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