Skylights are not created equally, and the eChoice product line from Solatube is no exception. The eChoice tubular skylight features a special lining with a higher heat-gain coefficient that helps it qualify for a tax credit.
The entire line of eChoice skylights features overall improved thermal performance, says Cynthia Sener, vice president of marketing, Solatube International. “The key thing to remember here is we wanted performance higher or more efficient than Energy Star requirements. This skylight is not transferring any heat but most of the light. It features superior light performance [reflects 99.7 percent of the light it captures] and unrivaled thermal performance. But at the end of the day what matters is homeowners can get a 30 percent tax credit by choosing our product,” Sener says.
It’s important to remember the tax credit lasts only through the end of 2010, Sener says. “This is the year to install one for tax timing. If it’s installed in 2010, you can visit www.solatube.com/residential/tax-credit-products.php. The tax credit pertains to existing buildings, but our product is best thought of for retrofits so that’s good,” she says.
Common residential applications include any interior space such as bathrooms, hallways, closets and laundry rooms, but have gone beyond these recently, Sener says. “Today we’re seeing these installed in kitchens, media rooms and any entertaining area, in dens and workout areas and home offices. We’ve even seen them in bedrooms with a dimmer. It’s a brilliant way to lighten a dark room. You can transform a room in two hours.”
Architects will spec Solatube skylights when planning a custom remodel or new home because it’s important to incorporate it early in the design phase, Sener explains. As an example of why planning can be critical, Sener recalls a large custom home whose owner wanted to bring the skylight down through multiple stories. “You need to plan for that and design a chase to deliver it to the basement.”
Solatube skylights come with a high-performance guarantee, thanks partly to the dome, or “capture zone.” The optics of the dome can capture low-angle light even when the sun is lowest in the horizon. They’re also designed, Sener says, to reject light that is too intense such as at high noon in June, so the light output is consistent. Bends, curves and even multiple 90-degree bends are no problem for Solatube skylights.