Solar skylight arrives for people without a hole in a ceiling

There are time when you just want to see the natural light pushed out by the world. You want it in your home to wake you up with sunlight and to show the light from an otherwise bleak overcast sky. But if you don’t want to pay for a giant hole to be cut in your roof, what do you do?

If you’re living in Australia, the answer might be to get those overalls on, grab a ladder, and install a solar panel on your roof that connects to an LED to be used on the inside of home.

That’s one of the gadgets that has dropped by our review desk recently, found in the Illume Skylight, a thin light panel that mounts to your ceiling and is powered by solar electricity to be what’s being described as a “shaftless skylight”.

For those unsure what that means, traditional skylights are built into the architecture of a home, with the roof requiring a chunk taken out for the hall of light a skylight requires, with a window at the top for the light to go through. Generally seen as a light shaft, this is one of those things you can’t just install yourself.

The Illume Skylight might be a way around this, though, with a not-quite-skylight made from an LED source that won’t take any power in your home and relies on what the sun is doing, sort of like a skylight.

To disconnect this from the grid, you merely plug the Illume light panel into a solar panel which is included in the box and can be mounted to the roof of a home, not only powering the light, but also lighting it up when the light is actually there.

“Ambient light created by Illume reflects what the weather is doing outside in the same way that a skylight or window would,” said Brian Kimberley, Managing Director of the company that makes Illume, Kimberley. “The big difference is that it can be fitted in many places where you can’t fit a traditional skylight such as in lower floor apartments or where security is an issue.”

“As with traditional skylights, elements such as the time of day and the presence of cloud cover also affect the lighting levels that illume emits,” said Kimberley. “This ‘ambient light technology’ ensures that illume introduces light exactly as a traditional skylight would.”

Tested here, we didn’t get up on the roof of GadgetGuy HQ, but we did block the solar panel to see what happened, discovering that it would switch the light off, telling us that this will only provide light in daylight, with night time switching off and forcing you to rely only on the electric lights at the time.

Depending on how much light we blocked, the ambient amount of light would change, and keeping the light amount bright, we did see a larger amount of light emitted.

Heat is also not generated here, meaning you won’t get very warm if you stand under the light pushed out by the Illume, which won’t help when you’re itching to sun-bake under a light, but will if you’re tired of feeling like you’re burning up every time you pass by an existing shaft-based skylight.

“It also has been recognised as a great alternative to traditional ambient light sources because there are no dust collection, mould build-up, leaks or insect issues to contend with,” said Kimberley.

“In addition, with Illume you don’t experience the loss of heat in winter or additional heat in summer that are features of a conventional skylight which means that the energy costs of temperature control are lower.”

Pricing for the Kimberley Illume Solar Shaftless Skylight systems start at $214.50 in Australia, with the products available at major hardware stores across the country, as well as home improvement and lighting specialists.

The Illume kit comprises of the light source, the solar panel, and a bunch of cables that are fed through the roof and ceiling connecting the two together.