Light Tube, Skylight Ideas. Free 1 year pro membership to my favourite comment.

Hi Instructablers,

Maybe you can help me with a little project I'm mulling over at the moment.

I'm thinking of building a skylight to direct the early morning sunlight into my dark, west facing bedroom. My goal is to make something that lets me wake up naturally as the sun rises.

I've done some quick research on what is available for sale in local hardware stores, and all I could find looked pretty ordinary and was very expensive.

Ideally I would like to catch light from the eastern side of my roof and direct it through a light tube to the ceiling of my bedroom. The distance would be about 4-5m with a couple of bends.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make an efficient light tube? Flexible mirror lining a tube? Optic fibre? Light pipe?

In case that's too easy, the next challenge is a bit more fancy. I'm imagining a slim light tube running down inside a wall, from the roof space to a translucent panel made to look like a picture frame or window. It would be a lot like having an actual east facing window.

Keep in mind that I'm a complete cheapskate on a tight budget.

All ideas are welcome. Mad or Mundane. Crazy or Crafty. Barmy or Brilliant. I have free pro memberships for my favourites.


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RavenThorn3 years ago

Just throwing my two cents in for this idea. New to this site, but veteran contractor with experience in windows. NEVER cut a hole in your roof !! every skylight we ever install no matter how good you seal it will eventually leak. You also, depending on climate, have insulation issues.

Depending on space in ceiling and/or obstacles in attic, best thing I could come up with is a some sort of tube going straight out the east wall (not roof) that you could reflect the light to where you want it. Or if you are technically inclined, Mount some sort of camera (security type weatherproof) on the roof, set up a monitor in room desired and you can have endless views. Even better a projector so you could turn your whole wall into a movie sized sunrise....

Good luck on your project !!

sixsmith3 years ago

Get a large mylar sheet, stretch it on a frame made of two-by and anchor it at the southern corner of the house (assuming northern hemisphere). The rising sun will strike the mylar and reflect towards your window.

You will probably have to reposition the reflector a every couple of weeks or so, and I'm not sure how long mylar would last like that. Mylar is pretty darn cheap, and if you've got any of those emergency blankets lying around you could use them for a trial run.

For a light tube, I'd build a box, lined with mylar so less light will absorb, have a fresnel lense focus light onto an angled mirror which would push the light down the mylar lined tube to another mirror on an angle that would direct the light into your room. I'd reckon you could do it for. . about a hundred bucks USD. The fresnel lense is mostly to help amplify the light to allow for losses due to a highly imperfect set up. I think fresnel lenses also have a higher angle of light acceptance which would allow it to catch both the early and late morning sun

cammers (author)  sixsmith3 years ago

Thanks Sixsmith. Great comment. Sorry about the delay responding.

I like your first idea, but it just isn't practical in this case.

I like your idea of using a light tube in conjunction with a fresnel lens. Something like this could be buildable and cheap. It's not as though this has to be 100% efficient.

Check the raiders of the lost arc movies. See how the ancient egyptians did the same thing. ;)

cammers (author)  Toga_Dan3 years ago

Yes. And actually I was thinking of the archeologist working in light reflected from a mirror held by his assistant. Was that Raiders? Or The 5th Element?

I remember that particular technique from The Mummy a series of mirrors. Mythbusters did an episode on it, I don't recall the verdict. I think it was plausable

Toga_Dan3 years ago

the market has tubes lined with reflective material. A transparent dome on the roof allows light into this tube.

A homebrew version of this might be done with 2nd hand vent tube lined with spaceblanket mirroring. I've seen reflective mylar adhered to sheetmetal using vacuum pump oil. Perhaps somethin like that could be done to improvise light tubes.

Alternatively, a timer on a light can work.

how does one line a tin tube with space blanket?

option: unhook the tin tube at the joint. flatten it. stick spaceblanket down. reconnect the tube seam.

option: cut a strip of spaceblanket to have width of the intended circumference of tube. heat weld a seam. coat inside of tin tube with vac pump oil. insert reflective spaceblanket tube. inflate spaceblanket tube with vacuum blower attachment. vac pump oil glues the 2 together.

cammers (author)  Toga_Dan3 years ago

Two nice ideas. Maybe won't even need the welded seem for option two if there's a bit of overlap. What is vac pump oil?

vacuum pump oil is used in high vacuum pumps for scientific experiments. i know people who use this for making parabolic reflectors. if i recall correctly, they use a squeegee to press mylar against the sheetmetal, thus squeezing any air out. the oil prevents any air from re entering.

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