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Harnessing a little sun power to add light

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Darla Horner Menking | Herald

A solar tube connected to the roof adds light to a windowless bathroom.

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I was inspired to write this column while I was in my master bathroom.

A year or so ago, I was redecorating the large bathroom and wishing it wasn’t so dark. It had no window, and therefore, no natural lighting.

I had to flip on the light switch every time I entered, even in the middle of the day.

I’m all about bright light in my home, so I decided to look into some options.

There are so many ways to utilize and harness nature’s awesome power and resources.

Solar power, which I selected to improve a dark master bathroom, is but one of the ways we can gain power and energy while lessening the amount of power we pay for from utility companies.

It’s not just about the money but it’s all about being a good steward of the natural resources available.

In the photograph below, it may appear as though I have the light on, but what is actually happening is sunlight is entering an unassuming, clear dome on the side roof and traveling through a highly reflective tube down to my bathroom ceiling. It is as bright as an electric light, and it even glows softly at night when the moon is up.

I love it and turn the light switch on only at night.

Back in the 1970s, large and rectangular skylights were becoming popular and although they were accomplishing the same goal as my solar tube, there were a few problems associated with them. They required a large hole to be cut in the roof. Sometimes there were leaks, and the outer coverings got dirty, cloudy or cracked if debris or hail hit them. Eventually, you never saw them on new structures.

But with time and improved technology, the small 12-inch hole along with newer, tougher reflective surfaces and coatings have made it possible to have more sunlight entering the room through much smaller, less prominent roof equipment.

It’s a wonderful start to consider in harnessing nature’s sunlight.

Next week, I’ll discuss the new options and pros and cons of solar panels for homeowners.

Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com

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Darla Horner Menking | Herald

A solar tube connected to the roof adds light to a windowless bathroom.

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