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

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.

Cheers,
Cammers



23 Replies

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RavenThorn (author)2014-11-15

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 !!

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sixsmith (author)2014-10-31

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

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cammers (author)sixsmith2014-11-06

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.

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Toga_Dan (author)cammers2014-11-08

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

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cammers (author)Toga_Dan2014-11-13

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?

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sixsmith (author)cammers2014-11-13

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

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Toga_Dan (author)2014-11-04

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.

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Toga_Dan (author)Toga_Dan2014-11-06

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.

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cammers (author)Toga_Dan2014-11-06

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?

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Toga_Dan (author)cammers2014-11-07

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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cammers (author)Toga_Dan2014-11-06

Thanks Dan. A mylar lined tube is about the most achievable option at this stage.

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JM1999 (author)2014-11-06

If you want an absolutely epic build you could get a large flexible tube of any colour and coat it with al-foil.

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cammers (author)2014-11-06


from:

sent fromliquidhandwash


when:

Nov 4, 2014. 2:19 AM


subject:

skylight ideas

I couldn't post this, maybe a bug? so here's my Idea

Ive
always want to build a giant periscope in a building, one big enough so
it just looks like a window. the top end would point to something with a
good view like the beach. wouldn't be to hard if you have the right
location, You would just need a window that has a crappy view, and big
box or frame with two mirrors on it.

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cammers (author)cammers2014-11-06

Liquidwandwash sent this comment to my messages. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing it here.

I love this idea. Not practical for my place, but I'd love to see it done somewhere.

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Downunder35m (author)2014-11-01

I can't find the website anymore, but I have seen a very nice project that fixed a problem similar to yours.

A couple in an appartement block had their kitchen located towards the service lane with just 2m of space to the next house wall.

Barely any natural light in the kitchen.

As it was not possible to use normal skylights they used a system of acrylic sheets (3) and fibre optics instead.

The sheet were from that material that you also see on CD covers, where it looks like the edges are glowing when light hits the cover.

For the optic cable they obtained an offcut of 25m lenght from a company using that stuff on a bigger scale.

The sheets got holed drilled into sides, holes polished.

Those hole got each a single strand of the firbe cable glued in and all strands have been bundled back together to go down the wall and into the kitchen.
Bundles of around 20 strands replaced the downlights and the leftovers were used as "spotlights" in areas over the bench tops.

One sheet was horizontal on the roof, two more vertical to catch the light when the sun is low.

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cammers (author)Downunder35m2014-11-06

Thanks for your comment. Just the sort of thing I'm looking for. It sent me on an epic Googling journey. I found some really interesting info, but not anything quite like the project you mentioned.

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gmoon (author)2014-11-04

Four or five meters is a long way, but I'd look at sunlight bottle bulbs, which utilize the phenomenon of Total Internal Reflection.

Why go for expensive plastics when a channel filled with water does the same thing?

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Toga_Dan (author)gmoon2014-11-04

If you're refering to 2 liter bottles set thru a roof, yes, this seems like a good idea for going thru a thin roof in regions that never freeze. But what if it does freeze? And making up 5 meters means about 15 bottles end to end. I think a lot of light will get lost in those breaks, even if you can keep the bottles lined up.

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gmoon (author)Toga_Dan2014-11-05

Nope. not referring to bottles specifically, just talking theory. I'll leave the details to the OP, or if he even wants to use the info...

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Toga_Dan (author)gmoon2014-11-06

water fiberoptics had crossed my mind, too, but i had censored myself. but maybe i ought not .

my thought had been clear flexi plastic tubes. of the sort one can buy by the foot at hrdwre stores. yknow... up to 3/4 in dia. problem: by the time lotsa light is brought in, with many tubes, youve spent lotsa $.

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cammers (author)Toga_Dan2014-11-06

Clear nylon tubing isn't particularly expensive. I bought some recently to make a water level. I will think further about this.

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cammers (author)gmoon2014-11-06

It's nice theory. Thanks.

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cammers (author)Toga_Dan2014-11-06

Thanks for the comment. Freezing could cause issues.

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