Commercial property owners of hotels, resorts, condominiums, and apartment buildings hammered by the rising cost of electricity, have turned to solar in growing numbers to protect their pocketbooks. Beyond rooftop solar, one of the most popular strategies to cut electrical bills, as well as functionally beautify living space, is residential daylighting, which directs natural daylight far into the home via inconspicuous rooftop domes and highly reflective tubing in place of costly electrical lighting.
Now commercial daylighting has become even more attractive with the addition of a LED-powered nightlighting capability. This revolutionary commercial LED lighting system unites advanced LED technology with a proven daylighting design to deliver an unbeatable sustainable lighting option and energy-efficient commercial lighting solution.
Starting at the roof level, patented dome technology captures daylight and transmits it indoors through the reflective tubing to spaces once thought impossible to reach, like interior hallways, with natural lighting. At the same time, proprietary SunSense Technology monitors daylight levels in the system and automatically triggers the LEDs when daylight levels get too low.
As far as design goes, the Smart LED System was designed to operate individually to illuminate small areas or in dual configurations to attain predictable lighting results for medium-size spaces. It also can be used to create specific architectural effects using wall washes and soffit lighting, making the Smart LED System an intelligent solution for achieving ambient light levels in spaces with ceiling heights up to 10 feet. Functioning as a whole, the daylighting system allows natural light into living spaces during the day, while making it safer and easier to navigate hallways, bathrooms, and stairwells at night.
During the day, the Smart LED System lights interiors using no-cost, natural light. As the sun starts to set and light levels fall, energy-efficient LEDs activate automatically to provide illumination for early morning and evening use. The result is a commercial daylighting solution that significantly cuts electricity use and delivers up to 94 percent in light energy savings.
BETTER HEALTH AND AESTHETICS
Recent studies have shown that getting enough natural daylight can enhance energy, concentration, and mood—and commercial daylighting is making this more accessible to hotels, resorts, condominiums, and apartments.
Compared to the often yellow or bluish hues of artificial lighting, bringing natural daylight also allows true colors to be seen more vividly. In bathrooms, this means makeup is applied more accurately. In bedrooms and walk-in closets, this means that clothes are matched more appropriately.
While traditional skylights have long been used to allow more sunlight in, they have a number of drawbacks. Because skylights must be near the roof and often require wall construction through attic space to the ceiling, this substantially raises cost and can take several days.
From a functional point of view, skylights are prone to leaks, and sunlight directly entering the skylight can leave some areas in the home too sunny and others in shade as the sun crosses the sky. The direct sunlight also allows in a lot of heat, which increases cooling costs, as well as UV light which fades carpets, fabrics, and even hardwoods.
TUBULAR DAYLIGHTING DEVICES
Unlike skylights that allow sunlight to enter only from upper levels of the home, commercial daylighting systems, also known as Tubular Daylighting Devices (TDDs), can direct natural light through up to 30 inches of highly reflective tubing that can accommodate 45 and even 90-degree angles. The natural light exits decorative fixtures to evenly brighten interior rooms, closets, hallways, bathrooms, and more.
While skylights can be several feet across or more and require reframing or the cutting of joists or support beams, tubular skylights can be more effective at 10 or 14 feet in diameter and fit between rafters.
“By efficiently capturing daylight at the roof, transporting it through reflective tubing, and delivering it inside the home through optically engineered diffusers, a first-rate TDD can be several times more effective than a skylight or window in terms of daylight delivered with minimal heat transfer,” explains Dana Carlson, a product manager at Solatube, a global leader in residential and commercial daylighting systems.
The company has developed better ways to capture, transfer, and deliver sunlight without the heat, UV light, or maintenance of skylights through advanced domes, ultra-reflective tubing, customizable diffusers, and other means in the past 25 years.
Solatube’s Raybender and LightTracker technologies, for example, capture and redirect maximum amounts of daylight into the tube, including low-angled light, such as early morning, late afternoon, and winter sunlight.
Unlike traditional light sources, LEDs expend significantly less energy to produce light. For this reason, they can last up to three times longer than compact fluorescent lamps, eight times longer than halogen lamps, and a whopping 25 times longer than incandescent lamps. The LED bulbs in the Smart LED System are designed to last up to 20 years, making maintenance easier since re-lamping will be unnecessary for decades.
The Smart LED System constantly monitors daylight levels using proprietary SunSense Technology. When exterior daylight conditions are too dim, the LEDs automatically activate to maintain acceptable light levels, day or night. When daylight levels are sufficient, the LEDs turn off automatically. This hands-free approach eliminates the need for light level adjustments, providing added convenience for building occupants. Units can be connected to a wall switch or an optional occupancy sensor to ensure the LED lights only come on when there is a person present in the space.
While skylights can take days to install, Solatube Daylighting Systems take about two hours due to a unique fastening and tube telescoping system. Typical obstructions and structural changes are avoided too, as angle adapters and extension tubing make it easy to go around rafters and joists for fast installation.
Engineered to work with all roof types—including shingle, slate, tile and metal—its powder-coated seamless flashing with one-piece metal construction also eliminates the possibility of leaks. Plus, the circular design allows rain and debris to bypass the rooftop dome, making them virtually maintenance-free. ■
About the Author: Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, California. For more information, visit www.solatube.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions – October 2016
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