Solar Tube Installation: DIY vs. Professional – Pros, Cons and Cost Comparison

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By Smartpowr

Bringing natural light into your home can be a game-changer, enhancing the ambiance, reducing energy costs, and promoting a healthier living environment. Solar tubes, also known as sun tunnels or tubular skylights, offer an innovative and cost-effective solution for illuminating your home with natural daylight. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of DIY and professional solar tube installation, as well as provide a detailed cost comparison to help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Solar Tubes

Before delving into the installation process, let’s first understand what solar tubes are and how they work. Solar tubes are cylindrical devices designed to capture sunlight from the roof and channel it into the interior spaces of your home. They consist of three main components:

  1. Roof Dome or Collector: This transparent, weatherproof dome is installed on the roof and captures sunlight from all angles.
  2. Reflective Tubing: A highly reflective, flexible or rigid tube that transports the captured sunlight from the roof to the interior.
  3. Diffuser or Light Fixture: This component is installed on the ceiling and disperses the natural light evenly throughout the room.

Solar tubes are an excellent option for illuminating areas that lack access to traditional windows or skylights, such as hallways, bathrooms, closets, and kitchens. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Energy, solar tubes can provide natural lighting while minimizing heat gain and loss, making them an energy-efficient choice.

Advantages of Solar Tubes

Before deciding on the installation method, let’s explore the advantages of incorporating solar tubes into your home:

  1. Energy Efficiency: Solar tubes reduce your dependence on artificial lighting during the day, resulting in lower electricity bills and a smaller carbon footprint. A report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that daylighting strategies, including solar tubes, can reduce lighting energy use by up to 80%.
  2. Natural Lighting: They provide consistent, soft, and glare-free natural light, which can improve your mood, well-being, and overall living experience. According to a study by the Lighting Research Center, exposure to natural light has been linked to improved productivity, better sleep quality, and reduced eyestrain.
  3. Low Maintenance: Once installed, solar tubes require minimal maintenance and are designed to withstand the elements, ensuring long-lasting performance.
  4. Privacy: Unlike traditional windows, solar tubes allow you to introduce natural light into areas where privacy is important, without compromising security.
  5. Increased Home Value: The addition of solar tubes can potentially increase the value of your home, as they are considered a desirable and energy-efficient feature. A report by the National Association of Home Builders found that energy-efficient features, including daylighting systems, are among the most sought-after by homebuyers.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

Now, let’s dive into the pros, cons, and cost considerations of DIY and professional solar tube installation.

DIY Installation


  • Cost Savings: DIY installation can save you a significant amount of money compared to hiring a professional, as you only need to pay for the materials and tools. According to a report by HomeAdvisor, the average cost of a DIY solar tube kit ranges from $200 to $500, while professional installation can cost between $300 and $1,000 or more.
  • Sense of Accomplishment: Completing a DIY project can be incredibly rewarding and provide a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  • Flexibility: You can work at your own pace and schedule the installation according to your convenience.


  • Skill and Experience Required: Installing solar tubes involves working on the roof, cutting holes, and ensuring proper sealing and insulation. Without the necessary skills and experience, you risk compromising the integrity of your roof and the performance of the solar tubes. A study by the National Roofing Contractors Association highlights the importance of proper installation to prevent leaks and other issues.
  • Safety Concerns: Working on roofs can be dangerous, especially for those without proper training and safety equipment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) emphasizes the importance of fall protection when working at heights.
  • Potential Warranty Issues: Some manufacturers may void the warranty if the solar tubes are not installed by a certified professional. It’s crucial to review the manufacturer’s warranty terms before attempting a DIY installation.
  • Time-Consuming: Depending on your experience level, a DIY installation can be time-consuming and may require multiple days to complete.

Cost Considerations:

  • Materials: The cost of a DIY solar tube kit can range from $200 to $500, depending on the size, brand, and quality.
  • Tools: You may need to purchase additional tools, such as a reciprocating saw, drill, and sealant, if you don’t already have them.

Professional Installation


  • Expertise and Experience: Professional installers have the necessary skills, training, and experience to ensure a proper and efficient installation, minimizing the risk of errors or damage. According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, proper installation is crucial for maximizing the performance and energy savings of daylighting systems.
  • Safety: Professionals have the proper safety equipment and follow industry-standard safety protocols when working on roofs, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.
  • Warranty Protection: Most professional installations come with a warranty, providing peace of mind and protection against potential issues. Many manufacturers, such as Solatube, offer extended warranties for professional installations.
  • Time-Saving: Professional installers can complete the job quickly and efficiently, minimizing disruptions to your daily routine.


  • Higher Cost: Hiring a professional installer can be more expensive than a DIY installation, as you’ll need to factor in labor costs. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of professional solar tube installation ranges from $300 to $1,000 or more.
  • Scheduling: You may need to coordinate with the installer’s schedule, which could cause delays or inconveniences.

Cost Considerations:

  • Labor: The labor cost for professional solar tube installation can range from $300 to $1,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the job and your location.
  • Additional Costs: Depending on your specific situation, you may need to factor in additional costs for roof repairs, electrical work, or structural modifications.

Cost Comparison

To better understand the cost differences between DIY and professional installation, let’s consider a scenario where you need to install two 14-inch solar tubes in your home.

DIY Installation:

  • Materials (two 14-inch solar tube kits): $600 – $1,200
  • Tools (if needed): $100 – $300
  • Total Cost: $700 – $1,500

Professional Installation:

  • Materials (two 14-inch solar tube kits): $600 – $1,200
  • Labor: $600 – $2,000
  • Total Cost: $1,200 – $3,200

As you can see, the cost difference between DIY and professional installation can be significant, with professional installation potentially costing twice as much or more. However, it’s important to consider the potential risks, warranties, and long-term performance when making your decision.

Read More: Brighten Your Home for Less: Cost of Installing Solar Tubes

Choosing the Right Option

When deciding between DIY and professional solar tube installation, consider the following factors:

  1. Skill Level and Experience: Evaluate your DIY skills, experience with roof work, and comfort level with the installation process. If you lack the necessary expertise, it may be safer and more cost-effective to hire a professional.
  2. Safety Concerns: Prioritize your safety and assess the risks associated with working on a roof. If you have concerns about fall hazards or lack proper safety equipment, professional installation is the safer choice.
  3. Warranty Considerations: Determine if a DIY installation will void the manufacturer’s warranty and weigh the potential consequences. Many manufacturers, such as Solatube, offer extended warranties for professional installations.
  4. Time and Convenience: Consider the time commitment required for a DIY installation and whether hiring a professional would be more convenient, especially if you have a busy schedule or limited experience.
  5. Budget: Carefully evaluate your budget and determine if the potential cost savings of a DIY installation outweigh the risks and potential issues. Keep in mind that professional installation may be a worthwhile investment for long-term performance and peace of mind.

Regardless of your choice, it’s crucial to follow all manufacturer’s instructions and local building codes to ensure a safe and effective installation. Additionally, consult reputable sources like the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Saver guide for further guidance on solar tube installation and energy efficiency.


Solar tubes offer a fantastic opportunity to bring natural light into your home while reducing energy costs and promoting a sustainable living environment. Whether you choose a DIY or professional installation, understanding the pros, cons, and cost considerations is essential for making an informed decision.

If you have the necessary skills, experience, and confidence, a DIY installation can be a cost-effective and rewarding option. However, if you prioritize safety, warranty protection, and peace of mind, hiring a professional installer may be the better choice, despite the higher cost.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on your specific circumstances, budget, and comfort level. By carefully weighing the factors outlined in this guide, you can make the best choice for your home and enjoy the benefits of natural lighting for years to come.

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