How to Choose Best Skylight Window Coverings
Skylight shades are the best choice for your homes as they provide total light blockage and insulation. They are the perfect solution for bedrooms and also protect your home from glare and unwanted sunlight during the month of summer. This feature will help keep your room cool and comfortable while cutting down on energy costs. The shades are available in variety of colours and patterns. So you can choose any of them which best suits for your home. ZebraBlinds designers will help you to customize your products.
How to deal with the conundrum that are skylights
There is no doubt that skylights, windows in the roof, are magical architectural features that elevate dark and dour interiors to interesting spaces, flooding rooms with natural light and warmth. Many a child has spun wild dreams looking out skylights, many a writer and scientist has been inspired by the stupendous views of the milky way, many having been offered a much-needed reprieve in their busy lives, gazing out at the awesome yet calm vista! And getting down to the humdrum, they, in more instances than not, cut down the necessity to use artificial lighting during the day and provide great ventilation if they’re operable.
In recent times, folks have incorporated skylights into their roofs to increase the architectural value of their homes, adding value to homes and making them more saleable. In other instances, there are those folks who have decided that upscaling is a waste of time, installing skylights into their attics to make an extra room, or improving the looks of a corridor, kitchen, or bathroom by punching skylights into their roofs.
But! There always is a but, isn’t there?! There are those who hate to deal with skylights! Because much as the benefits they provide in terms of room brightening and edification, skylights tend to invite too much of heat in summer, causing the air conditioning to groan, and with it too much of the UV light that results in occupant discomfort and bleaching of interior elements. In winter, precious heat is lost through a skylight, and skylights invariably spring leaks that are terribly irritating to deal with! Energy pros hate them – it’s a well-known fact that windows lose 20 times the heat than that of an equal space of an adjacent wall; likewise, the R-Value (thermal resistance) of a skylight is just a fraction of that of a comparable area of a roof.
Heat Loss through Skylights
According to the Department of Energy, because heated air rises, a typical roof skylight loses 35 -40% more heat than a comparable vertical window or a window that’s installed on the side of a house.
The Draft Loop
Warm air that rises and cools as it hits the sloped or horizontal glass pane on the roof, causing it to drop back downward, causing more warm air to rise upward. This forms a draft loop due to this convection of air, decreasing the thermal comfort of a room. In addition, heat is also lost through skylights by radiation (passage of heat from one object to another without warming the air between them), as skylights are generally left unprotected to the elements, unlike vertical windows that have overhangs, trees, and even shutters or awnings shielding them.
Skylights also have a ‘curb’ or a supporting frame that allows it to fit between the rafters on the roof, which increases its total surface area for potential heat loss.
Though skylights allow natural light into a room, it is clear that they have to be managed effectively to manage the glare and restrict unwanted heat loss during winter and heat gain during summer.
The North American Sun
We experience summer in the Northern Hemisphere when the Earth is on that part of its orbit where the N. Hemisphere is oriented more toward the Sun and therefore the Sun rises higher in the sky and is above the horizon longer, and the rays of the Sun strike the ground more directly. Likewise, in the N. Hemisphere winter, the hemisphere is oriented away from the Sun, the Sun only rises low in the sky, and is above the horizon for a shorter period, and the rays of the Sun strike the ground more obliquely. The Earth is actually closer to the Sun in the N. Hemisphere winter than in the summer.
When we replace an opaque insulating material like the roof with skylights, we invite the sharp, hot sun into our homes with actually no thought to shielding it. And as people with skylights in their homes would agree, skylights are not easy to shield.
Skylight Shades Material
In brief, though skylights are an excellent feature to incorporate into the roof for natural light and warmth, they are sources of uncomfortable heat loss/gain and glare. This calls for shading, which ideally is a fabric system that is operable – one that can be deployed to shield and retracted to offer protection.
There are those folks who opt for the more economical materials like aluminum, in the form of blinds, to cover their skylights. This system does have a few plus points, but more often than not (in fact 99% of folks), folks come away dissatisfied with their choice of aluminum blinds for skylights.
Plus Points of Aluminum Blinds for Skylights
They are a steal at the price they are offered
Though they are fixed, hard skylight coverings, their vanes are operable, allowing light rays to be bent at angles desired, or shutting them out completely, or letting them in completely – the most salient feature
They are rust proof and will withstand the effects of condensation, and even drips – a definite advantage
The Holes in the theory!
Though aluminum is a sturdy material, being installed at angles or horizontally will eventually take its toll on the blinds, causing them to bow, given the vagaries of the climate
They are metal, so they are great conductors of heat, inducing undesirable heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter as if there were no covering at all
The route holes in the blinds let sharp pinpricks of light through, causing an irritating glare
Most of the time, they can’t be retracted
The argument above renders aluminum blinds for skylights practically useless in the long run, making a strong case for the use of an operable fabric system!
The Benefit of Using Blackout Cellular Shades for Skylights
Now, one might be wondering why blackout and not light filtering. Remember that we discussed the intensity of the Northern hemisphere light and heat (the North American Sun) that is usually blocked by the insulated roofs; when skylights are punched into roofs, they offer scant protection – this is an understood fact. But we want skylights, no matter the R-Value or the energy losses we suffer or the maintenance issues. They offer such unparalleled beauty that we willingly put up with the downsides. But we do need to manage the daylighting and energy issues. And there’s no better option than the energy efficient blackout cellular shades that are operable, instead of scrimping and going in for light filtering or room darkening options that will only cause regret later.
Energy Efficient Skylight Shading – Blackout Cellular Shades
Cellular shades are constructed to resemble the honeycomb that’s fashioned out of millions of minuscule hexagonal compartments by honey bees to store the nectar they gather from flowers. Like the honeycomb, cellular shades are crafted to stack horizontal rows of hexagonal cells one on top of the other, its integrity of form maintained by sharply creased edges. The cells trap air in them to form an effective barrier between the temperature outside the window and the temperature in the room, thus maintain a stable, comfortable thermal environment for occupants.
In addition, the layer of air slows the trajectory of sound waves, helping create a peaceful interior environment conducive to privacy, work, and sound sleep.
The Insulating Properties of Cellular Shades
The bigger the cells, the more the air that’s trapped in them, and therefore, the better the insulation it provides
The more the cell layers, the more the insulation, both thermal and acoustic
The thicker the fabric used in its construction, the better the insulative properties of the shade
Cellular Fabric Opacity
Cellular shades are made out of woven and non-woven varieties of the durable and versatile polyester, some with the street side face being white so the sun is reflected back outside, in various opacity levels to fit in with a range of room brightening and privacy needs –
Sheer – this fabric offers little or no privacy, allowing a clear view of the interiors yet offering protection against UV rays to protect interior elements from fading.
Light Filtering – fabrics are more tightly woven than are the former, but still allows a muted view of the goings on indoors.
Room Darkening – fabrics are heavier and tightly woven to block much of the light entering a room to provide good privacy levels. At night, vague shadows can be seen if one looks closely enough.
Blackout – fabrics are lined with a metalized plastic film (Mylar)on the insides of the cells that blocks 100% of the light hitting the window facing side of the shade. Some blackout shades have an extra layer of fabric covering the Mylar for more integrated looks and additional thickness for better thermal and acoustic insulation.
Because of the Mylar coating the cells, Blackout shades can be of any colour, including white
Certified ‘Sleep Shades’
Blackout shades are also manufactured to include light blocking side rails, felt lined hem bars and headrails designed to prevent every bit of the light seeking entry, making them the certified ‘Sleep Shades’ by the National Sleep Council.
Crown Motorized Skylight Blackout Cellular Shades
Motorized skylight cellular shades are easily managed, and provides savings in energy consumption as they can be efficiently deployed to prevent heat loss/gain. Previously, folks gave a lot of thought to opting for motorized shades, but now, the point is moot as window shade automation is set to be the standard in energy efficient protection for windows of any kind. Light and temperature sensors ensure that the shades are deployed to maximize daylighting and energy use. The price of automation (Somfy and Simplicity Motors) has been slashed to make it available to a large cross-section of the population of North America, making them an unbeatable choice. For better efficiency, Somfy had introduced Solar Kits to recharge the batteries; though the batteries are said to have a life of only two years, there has been very good feedback from customers stating that they’ve used the same batteries for up to seven years – great service from Somfy! Motorized skylight shades pay back handsome dividends in energy savings that absorb the initial investment that is made.
Insulated Skylight Shades
A combination of bespoke eloquence and function for skylights, the Crown motorized Blackout Cellular Shades offer the best insulation and light control for any variety of skylights, effortlessly controlled at the touch of a remote button or wall switch. Radio Frequency (RF) enabled, the shades can be operated from anywhere within a distance of 65 feet. They are available in an extensive colour palette with fabrics varying in textures and prints, in both single and double cell layers – single cell shades are available in ½” and ¾”, whereas the double cell shade is available in 3/8”.
Whiteside channels are provided for better structural integrity and stability (preventing the shade from belling out or sagging) of the shades on a slanted or horizontal surface, ensuring that the shade moves smoothly; it doubles as protection to the edges of the shade in addition to its primary function of blocking the halo effect.
Moisture Control Your Skylights
Water leaks are a common problem with improperly installed skylights. The Department of Energy advocates the prevention of water leaks by:
Mounting the skylight above the roof surface
Installing a curb (a raised, watertight lip that helps to deflect water away from the skylight) and flashing
Thoroughly sealing joints
Following the manufacturer’s guidelines
It is also prudent to apply a layer of sheet waterproofing over the flanges/flashing of the skylight. This is generally installed under the finish roofing material as an aid in protecting against ice dams. Avoid water diversion devices such as roof crickets or diverter strips, as they often create more problems than they solve.
It is crucial that Skylights are maintained regularly in order that your shades live up to your expectations. The shades themselves are GreenGuard certified against off-gassing and given an anti-microbial treatment that protects the shades from mildew and odour-causing bacteria. They are also flame retardant, making them an extremely safe product to protect and accessorize your skylights with. The fabric is also incorporated with an anti-static finish that repels dust, making them easy to clean.
Log on to www.zebrablinds.ca to avail awesome offers that will save you precious cash in addition to offering seamless energy efficiency!