Solatube Daylighting Systems Are Stronger Than a Hurricane

It’s official – the Solatube 750 DS-O daylighting system, as supplied by Daylight Specialists, is the world’s only daylighting system that is storm shelter approved. It’s a sad truth that severe storms becoming more common – in the Midwest and elsewhere. Not only are they happening more frequently, but they are also lasting longer and reaching greater intensity. In December 2021, a series of deadly tornadoes hit Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, and elsewhere, in quick succession, killing more than 80 people and destroying communities in their wake. As extreme weather conditions are fast becoming the new abnormal, storm shelters are not just a last resort – they are part of everyday life for many Midwesterners. And their design features matter more than ever.

Why Use Architectural Daylighting Systems in Storm Shelters?

‘Storm shelter’ is just a side hustle for most of these buildings. They are often multi-purpose spaces like school gymnasiums, churches or auditoriums – or they may be government buildings, which house office workers most of the time. A central architectural challenge, therefore, is ensuring these buildings are fit for their main function, while also meeting all the relevant construction codes to stand up to a tornado. And a central part of this comes down to light. Natural daylighting systems capture and harness sunlight to light up interiors – daylighting systems can reduce electricity use by up to 60% year-round. They are proven to improve concentration, motivation and emotional wellbeing – all of which make them perfectly suited for use in office spaces, as well as cost effective. Broad-spectrum daylight has been proven to boost test scores – an advantage when many of these shelters are literally where high school students take their SATs! Daylighting is also gaining a growing recognition for its value within places of worship.

Finding The Light Through the Storm

Anyone who has experienced a building with commercial roof skylights during or after a hurricane will happily explain their main flaw… these large commercial skylights don’t just let the light flood in! The water damage from a major storm can be severe, and those light-giving commercial grade skylights are optimally positioned to let maximum water pour through – particularly in the highly likely event that the glass is broken! In a tornado, pieces of broken glass, pelted through the air like bullets, can, themselves, become a deadly weapon. This makes windows a hazard in themselves. One remedy is expensive storm shutters – but, aside from the cost, this creates yet another item on a checklist at a time when time is of the essence. Electricity outages are also common in this kind of extreme weather event – potentially leaving people sheltering in darkness, or near darkness for hours. Daylight systems bypass the need for windows altogether – lighting the room with natural sunlight and minimizing, or even eliminating electric light altogether. As well as making them safer and more effective in a storm, they are also a far more efficient and cost effective option. An added advantage to using daylight lighting solutions in a storm is that it gives occupants the level of light outside – which offers some indication of whether a tornado has cleared.

Introducing the Solatube 750DS-O

When Hurricane Harvey hit Calk-Wilson Elementary in Texas, not one of over 220 Solatube units installed in the building were damaged or leaked! The Solatube 750DS-O, the only storm-proof daylighting device in the world, is compliant for use in an ICC 500 storm shelter and FEMA P-361 safe room — even in EF 5 tornados, which are capable of sweeping away two-story houses, leaving nothing left but the basement. Top of the line TDDs, like all of Solatube’s products, offer incredible capacity to optimize lighting and thermal conditions. This capacity has been tried and tested against the most extreme conditions – from Federal Blast test requirements to Factory Mutual testing, to hurricane coastal requirements in Florida and Texas. Solatube daylighting system prices are reasonable and affordable for shelters dependent of public sector and non-profit funding such as churches or government buildings. This is particularly true in comparison to commercial skylights for sale, complete with the necessary storm shutters, which are less efficient and far more expensive. Solatube’s TDDs are also completely maintenance free.

If you would like more information about Solatube’s daylight products suitable for storm shelters, Daylight Specialists can provide an AIA-accredited presentation. Get in touch today and one of our experienced professionals can answer all your questions.