To answer this question we first need to understand what wavelengths of radiation are emitted through a Solatube Tubular Skylight. Solatubes utilize two technologies to eliminate UV radiation and reduce heat from infrared (IR) wavelengths from entering the building interior as follows:
The first technology is related to the domes. Solatube acrylic outer domes have special UV inhibitors designed to block 100% of UVB (280 to 315 nanometers), 100% UVC (100 to 280 nanometers), and 98.5% UVA (315 to 400 nanometers) rays.
The second technology is related to tubing. Spectralight Infinity tubing transmits the visible spectrum of light (400 to 760 nanometers). The infrared spectrum of light (above 760 nanometers) is not transmitted by the Spectralight Infinity tubing.
With this information in mind, the following subjects can be addressed:
There are a few factors to consider when determining if a Solatube Daylighting System will have an effect on plant growth in conjunction with the above information. The first factor would be how much UV the particular plant will need for proper growth. Second, the size of the product you are using may impact how much light the plant will be able to obtain. It is also important to point out that the Solatube Daylighting System removes a majority of the infrared wavelengths, which only provide heat to the plants. This substantially reduces any heat-related stress problems that may occur with indoor plants.
Typically plant growth occurs between 400 and 1000 nanometers. Based on this data, it would be safe to say that in general, a Solatube Daylighting System will have a positive effect on plant growth depending on that particular plant’s UV requirements.
Solar Heat Gain
With the infrared blocking capabilities of the Spectralight Infinity tubing, removing greater than 50% of the heat from the infrared wavelengths (>900 nanometers) of the sun with every reflection on the tube surface, the Solar Heat Gain of Solatube products is greatly reduced, which in turn will reduce the air conditioning load requirement for the space being daylit. These technologies allow Solatube Daylighting Systems to provide the highest light output performance with minimal thermal impact.
UV Effect on Skin and Vitamin D
The different UV wavelengths affect skin in the following ways:
UVA – The lowest energy range, UVA causes little burning ordinarily, but it penetrates deeply, beyond the surface layer of the skin. Over long periods of exposure, UVA causes wrinkling and premature aging of the skin.
UVB – More energetic, the chief burning and tanning rays which area major factor in producing skin cancer, although not penetrating beyond the skin.
UVC – The most energetic, intensely burning rays. Fortunately, UVC is mostly absorbed by the earth’s sunscreen, the ozone layer.
Concerning Vitamin D it is synthesized in the skin when UV rays react with a compound within the skin between the 270-300 nanometers wavelengths, with peak synthesis between 295-297 nanometers. Based on this information the Solatube Daylighting Systems do not transfer the required UV for Vitamin D synthesis as it will block all of the UVB and UVC rays, which fall between the 100-315 nanometer range.
Note: The UV information in this article is specific to Solatube Daylighting Systems – other TDD products may not provide the same performance standards.