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A light tube is a tube which is designed to be installed in a ceiling or wall to allow natural light to pass into a room. Light tubes are also known as light pipes or solar tubes, and they are an increasingly common feature in design and architecture. There are a number of advantages to light tubes, ranging from security to savings on energy bills. Many home supply stores carry light tubes which are ready to be installed, and they can also be custom designed.
The most basic light tube design is simply a straight cylinder, capped with a dome on one end and a diffuser on the other. The dome end is pointed outside, allowing the dome to concentrate and collect light so that it can pass down the tube, and the diffuser diffuses the light into the room so that hot spots do not develop. Light tubes can also be bent and lined with reflective materials to pass the light on, and they can have other innovative features as well.
Light tubes have a number of advantages over skylights, another type of window commonly installed to allow more light into a space. Light tubes are much easier to install, and less likely to contribute to the development of leaks and weak spots in a roof. They are also more secure, as people cannot fit through a light tube. This can be an advantage for home security, and also in institutions which need to be secured, such as prisons.
The light tube design can be used to admit natural light into a space, which will cut down substantially on lighting bills. It also reduces the risk of heat loss, because it is sealed, and the air inside acts as insulation. This is in direct contrast with a skylight, a window which usually contributes substantially to heat loss because it lacks insulating properties. The tubes can also be used in environments where privacy is desired, such as bathrooms.
One of the best times to install a light tube is when work is being done to a roof, as it will be easy to fit the tube in while the upper layers of the roof are removed. It is also possible to install a tube in an existing finished roof, with the assistance of a roofer or a general contractor who is comfortable with roofing. Light tubes can also be very easily installed in walls, although people should be careful when punching holes through walls to avoid plumbing and electrical lines.