PRODUCT REVIEW: Keylite Sun Tunnel

PRODUCT REVIEW: Keylite Sun Tunnel

Roger Bisby brings some light and happiness into a dark spot of a newly extended property with Keylite

There is no doubt that the British have fallen in love with light. Every house extension I do these days seems to involve a lot more glass than it used to. In some ways this accentuates the problem of those darkened areas where the loss of an outside window contrasts starkly with the extension, which is flooded in daylight. Clients often assume that having a huge bi-fold window in one end of a 6 metre extension will be enough to compensate but the amount of light is reduced to a quarter as you double the distance. It is what mathematicians call an inverse square. That is a piece of information you can dazzle your clients with.

In this particular house there were two areas of concern – one being the bathroom, which is now in the middle of the house with no window, and the other is the new passage hallway through to the bedroom extension. The cheapest and easiest option in both cases was to fit a Keylite Sunlite rigid tube system. Flexible ducts are available but the rigid systems are a lot more effective with 95 per cent emissivity.

From the installer’s point of view the big plus is that, by selecting the right size, you can get away with no alteration to the rafters and no trimmer, which means you aren’t trying to feed double rafters into an existing roof. In both cases it was just a question of removing a few tiles, cutting one batten and feeding in the assembled Sunlite into the aperture. The flashing is already attached, so there is hardly anything to do on the roof.

Inside the job was made slightly easier in the new part of the building because I had not yet boarded the ceiling. The most difficult bit for me was getting the correct angle on the swivel joint. In some ways it is easier to do this by temporarily fitting it so you can swivel it in-situ but, as this is my cheat, I decided to follow Keylite’s instructions for this review.

It is important to wear gloves so you don’t leave finger marks on the reflective surface, and you need to peel the protective film as you go. I once saw an installation of 20 sun tubes on a school where the installers had left the protective film on every single one of them. I discovered the mistake because I couldn’t believe how dull they were and when we removed it the difference in the light levels in those classrooms was astonishing

It is a characteristic of these systems that people are constantly trying to turn the light off when they leave the room. If you are thinking of putting one in a bedroom keep in mind that some sort of shading or cover will be needed if you want to sleep after 4.30 in the summer. However, the most common locations are in hallways and over stairwells where you need all the light you can get.

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