Let sunlight in through a tube
It can be a wonder solution to our crowded city homes that can help cut down on electricity bills.
The tubelight still lights up many homes and many elders continue to love it though its era is over, replaced by CFL and now LED bulbs. But should we believe that it has staged a comeback? Yes, not as electric lights, but as tubes that bring in natural sunlight through the wall or roof.
All this goes to prove the human need for sunlight and our desperate attempts to get it into our own creation of dark interiors. Much has already been written about the health benefits of sun light. Yet, why are we designing deeply enclosed and dark places in the first place? Even in the discussions around green buildings, there is much importance to the daylight factor, though it is often achieved through technically advanced, hence costlier glass-based solutions. Possibly, concerns of this kind must have led designers to evolve simpler, alternative ideas to divert outdoor light into the indoors.
Simply stated, the light tube is a pipe with transparent sheet at its mouth and highly reflective paint on the inner surface which transfers sunlight into a room. At the advanced level, we can also have panel precision cut through lasers, solar reflectors that face sun’s direction, reflective mirrors and such others. As a modern product, we get to see one at Forgotten Food Restaurant at Hasiru Thota in Bengaluru. However, the idea itself is an age-old experiment in forts and palaces of India, tried through narrow tube-like voids within the wall.
Light tubes open skywards and not sideways, hence can capture light for longer hours. Unlike in a window, there is no loss of privacy; unlike the skylight glass, it needs no cleaning and has no life cycle cost at all. The collector at the beginning and diffuser at the end are the major fitments which effect intensity of light, beside the inside finish. Shorter the length and fewer the bends, in principle, should be the way to design them.
Light tubes offer no glare and no direct sunlight that can affect our activities. By using appropriate materials, one can reduce infrared and ultraviolet waves which can result in reducing indoor heat, a frequent problem associated with light. The road elevation and indoor appearance may be mistaken for some industrial exhaust system; as such the aesthetic attraction of these tubes are subjective, hence may have to be located judiciously.
We are yet to have many manufacturers of the light tube, though it can be a wonder solution to our crowded city homes. Making one each for a home may not be economical; large-scale production of modular sizes being the only way to popularise it.
If we can not be eco-friendly in our daylight design, we can still enjoy a green home using light tubes.