It’s no secret that skylights imbue any room in a home with an appealing boost of natural light. They’re also energy efficient. The use of natural light cuts down on electricity costs, and in wintertime, skylights can help to warm a room. But you’ll want to know more before making the decision to install one in your home. Read on for a crash course in skylights.
Types of Skylights
Fixed: Just as the name implies, a fixed skylight is fixed in place so that it doesn’t open to the outside. While they won’t offer any ventilation, fixed skylights bring natural light, as well as desirable outside views, into your home’s interior.
Ventilating: As a counterpoint to fixed skylights, ventilating skylights open to the outside, allowing for helpful ventilation while also providing the requisite natural light. Usually hinged at their bottoms, ventilating skylights come in both manual and motorized options. The latter often includes moisture sensors, which will automatically close the skylight when rain is detected.
Ventilating skylights can be especially helpful in rooms with excess moisture or prone to collecting heat, like a laundry room, kitchen or bathroom.
Tubular: The newest in skylight technology, tubular skylights—also commonly referred to as sun tunnels or solar tubes—are significantly smaller than typical fixed or ventilating skylights. Thus, they’re particularly beneficial for enclosed, tight spaces, like a closet, powder room, or pantry. Usually somewhere between 10 and 14 inches in diameter, these mirrored metal tubes reach from the roof to the ceiling, capturing sunlight and directing it to the space below. A porthole lens diffuses the light to create a natural glow. Some options include integrated fans, for a bathroom, or an electric light, for evenings.
Placement & Size
Both fixed and ventilating skylights come in multiple shapes and sizes, so it’s extremely important to consider your space before installation. Will a single substantial skylight suffice? Or are two smaller ones preferable? And which direction should they face? Before you begin to answer these questions, you’ll want to take into account the size of your room, the height of your ceilings, and the slope of your roof.
“As a rule of thumb,” according to Energy.gov, “the skylight size should never be more than 5% of the floor area in rooms with many windows and no more than 15% of the room’s total floor area for spaces with few windows.”
Furthermore: “Skylights on roofs that face north provide fairly constant but cool illumination. Those on east-facing roofs provide maximum light and solar heat gain in the morning. West-facing skylights provide afternoon sunlight and heat gain. South-facing skylights provide the greatest potential for desirable winter passive solar heat gain than any other location, but often allow unwanted heat gain in the summer.”
A final consideration, albeit no less important, is a skylight’s aesthetic appeal both inside and outside your home. For instance, front loading your roof with skylights may reduce your property’s curb appeal. If you’re unsure, let an expert guide you. Our design team at Valley Home Builders can help you weigh your options and determine the best size, placement, and shape for your skylights.
Like windows, skylights are glazed to offer protection from outside elements, specifically light, heat, and cold. Glazing options include plastic and glass. Plastic is less expensive but prone to discoloration and likely to turn brittle over time. Also, if the plastic doesn’t offer adequate UV protection, carpeting or furniture beneath the skylight’s rays may be at risk for fading. Glass, on the other hand, is more durable but also more costly.
A quality skylight will include energy-efficient attributes, like heat-absorbing tints to block unnecessary heat from entering your home or low-emissivity coatings to reduce energy loss from your home’s interior in the winter.
With proper installation, skylights can last for years without any maintenance, particularly when they’re sloped to allow debris to slide off. Modern versions typically include curbs to carry water away from the seams. However, incorrectly installed, they can be prone to condensation and leaking, eventually leading to water damage. This is why it’s important to let the pros, like Valley Home Builders, handle the job. Our build team will ensure every skylight, no matters its form, size, or location, will be successfully installed in your home with minimal fuss.