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Solatube History

The Early Years

Revolutionising the residential and commercial day lighting industries didn’t happen overnight.

The roots of Solatube, originator of the tubular skylight, had humble beginnings dating back to the 1980s and an Australian inventor. Working alone, the inventor struggled to bring his “brain child” to life. His innovative concept would change the way the world thought about skylights.

At a time when poorly designed – and often leak-prone – traditional skylights had become the scorn of home and business owners, the inventor had a revolutionary idea: a compact, leak-proof and energy-efficient alternative. His concept involved a light-capturing system on the rooftop that redirected light down through a highly reflective cylinder to a diffuser at the ceiling level. The system would be simple to install without structural modifications, while provide exceptional natural lighting to the interior space.

The next step was making it happen. In 1986, a patent was sought and four years later, Solatube Limited was established with a group of Sydney-based entrepreneurs, providing the marketing and manufacturing expertise necessary to launch the revolutionary product.

Going To Market

The first Solatube® product was sold in 1991 and sales that first year made the “light catcher” the best-selling skylight in Australia. Armed with the phenomenal success, the founders decided to bring the skylight to the North American market. In 1992, Solatube North America was established and an office was opened in Carlsbad, California.

During the coming years, Solatube Introduced its 250mm and 400mm units to the market, as well as accessories like the integrated electric light and ventilation kits that further enhanced the functionality of the skylights. Solatube skylights became a major contender in the larger skylighting industry, particularly in the residential side of the market.

Throughout the 1990s, Australian, American and European customers flocked to the “Miracle Skylight”

Growing the Company

By 1998, opportunities were escalating around the globe. The company was restructured and Solatube International Inc. was established to manage worldwide operations. Having outgrown its existing facility, Solatube International moved into a new headquarters in Vista, California in 1999, which allowed the company to further grow its operations and explore new technology.

In early 2000, Solatube launched its Brighten Up® Series, featuring state-of-the-art technology for the 250mm and 400mm models. In keeping with the tradition of offering the most advanced technology and superior product design, the Brighten Up® Series improved upon the already internationally renown product by featuring a patented Light Intercepting Transfer Device (LITD®) and Raybender® Technology (for enhanced light performance from low-angle light) and factory pre-assembled parts (to speed up installation by as much as 50 percent). Designed for superior performance from a compact design, the series is ideal for smaller spaces in homes and businesses, such as bathrooms, hallways, walk-in closets, laundry rooms or kitchens.

In August 2000, Solatube added its commercial division in order to focus on opportunities within that market segment. The SolaMaster® Series was launched as the first line of tubular skylights engineered specifically for commercial buildings. Its flagship product is the 525mm Solatube skylight. The product features a modular design that can accommodate several different ceiling configurations, including suspended ceiling systems, hard ceilings and open warehouse ceilings, making it an ideal lighting option for a variety of commercial applications, including offices, schools, retail, industrial and healthcare facilities.

Also in 2000, Solatube added a non-skylight product to its company offerings for the first time – the Solar Star® solar-powered attic ventilation fan. The products complement the Solatube skylight product lines in providing homeowners with affordable, energy efficient products that utilize the power of free sunlight to solve challenges around the home.

The Miracle Skylight Matures

In 2002, a major advancement was made on the performance of Solatube skylights with the introduction of Infinity® to the product line. This new reflective tubing material set a new standard for the industry by providing unprecedented reflectivity, allowing for optimal lighting performance, particularly in low angle light conditions and on long tube runs.

In 2003, Solatube launched an entirely new concept to the tubular skylight category – dimming capability. The Solatube Daylight Dimmertm (patent 7,082,726) was developed as an optional feature to provide user-controlled, adjustable daylighting at the flip of a switch. This innovation opened Solatube skylights up to a whole new range of residential and commercial application where the use of tubular skylights otherwise would not have been practical.

In the years since, Solatube has continued to refine its technology for superior performance and durability, earning the prestigious ENERGY STAR® energy-efficiency rating as well as the rigorous Cyclone approval for high-velocity rain and wind zones (including the Darwin “deem to comply” approval).

The company’s research and development team is always looking for new solutions to unusual installation challenges posed by certain applications, such as indirect or obstructed roof access or installations that require situating the dome on an opposite roofline. Introduced in 2006 was the Solatube 0-90 Degree Extension Tube Adaptor, the only one of its kind in the industry, which allows the tubing to be twisted and angled like never before for unprecedented installation versatility without compromised lighting performance.

Solatube Skylights - Brighten your perspective with Solatube Daylighting - Click here to find out more
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