Design, Shape, Installation, and Shading of Skylights
Skylights are interesting architectural features that are set into roofing to allowing better day-lit interiors that also provide ventilation and a view. In today’s world, they are efficient in reducing heating, cooling, and lighting costs. Also, considering the economic slowdown that has become the norm of modern living, addition of skylights improve the value of a home that needs to be sold; alternatively, those who can’t afford larger homes use skylights as a way to improve an existing structure to make it more energy efficient and interesting.
Energy Star has established firm guidelines on minimum energy performance criteria based on climate though it doesn’t take a home’s design into consideration. For new constructions, it would be sensible to consider the skylight design and selection an integral part of the home’s design.
The size of the skylight plays an important role in how much light and heat is allowed into a space. The energy.gov says that 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. One needn’t have to deal with over-illumination and over-heating of an area that could lead to energy inefficiency and ill-health.
The position of a skylight is vital to maximizing daylight and passive solar heating. North-facing skylights provide constant and cool illumination whereas south-facing skylights provide the best winter passive solar gain but does tend to allow undesirable heat gain in summer; this can be combated with deciduous trees providing cover, or with operable window coverings or dressings o control the intensity of the daylight and the consequent heat gain. The skylights on the east-facing roofs receive the maximum light and heat gain in the mornings, while west-facing skylights receive the maximum solar impact in the afternoon. The application used in shading the skylights of whichever orientation will make all the difference to controlling daylight, and the heat gained and lost.
Skylights are typically made of plastic or glass glazing –
Plastic glazing is inexpensive and less liable to break compared to all other glazing types, but gets scratched and becomes brittle and discoloured over time, and unless coated in with specialized film, it will let UV rays that are detrimental to humans and interiors through. Glass is more durable than plastic, and subsequently, it is more expensive than plastic but does not discolour and is hard to scratch. Glass used for skylights is both tempered and laminated to prevent it from breaking into long sharp shards, also providing impact resistance.
Installation of skylights
In order to achieve optimal energy performance, it’s important to take into consideration the slope and moisture control during installation. The energy.gov says, “As a general rule of thumb, you want to achieve a slope equal to your geographical latitude plus 5 to 15 degrees. At least one skylight manufacturer makes a prefabricated, tilted base that increases the angle of a skylight above the roof.”
If not installed correctly, skylights could effect water leaks. To avoid this, energy.gov advises –
• 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.
There are a few options to choose from among shading for skylights –
Skylight Shutters crafted by Norman Window Fashions in a variety of engineered wood (Woodlore and Woodlore Plus), advanced polymers (Woodbury), and wood (Normandy and Sussex) provide some of the best shading options for skylights, allowing for complete control of light, privacy and thermal sufficiency by tilting the shutter vanes either with sky poles or enabling them with automated settings that offer complete ease of use, especially for hard to reach skylights. The shutters are lightweight and easy to install with clip-on brackets.
SkyTrack Skylight Blinds are made of aluminum from Graber, which offer wonderful light control, but being aluminum, doesn’t offer much in terms of insulation. The slats are made of 8-gauge aluminum for robust form, and the vanes can be tilted with a wand or for higher skylights, a ring tilt and sky pole may be used to control the vanes as well as lift and lower the blinds over the skylight. They come in a variety of color options that would blend into any décor scheme. These blinds are protected against bowing due to incline wires that hold he slats firmly in place.
CrystalPleat Skylight Cellular Shades from Graber offers the best solution to insulating skylights and to create comfortable interiors as the honeycomb construction of these shades trap air that forms a barrier against heat loss and gain. Available in a host of exciting colors in both light filtering and blackout varieties of fabric, they offer control of light while providing a muted view of the outdoors or skyline/treeline. The shades are deployed over the skylights with side tracks that blunts the halo effect of the light seeping around the shades. They can be lifted over the skylight with handles provided on the hem bar or with telescoping sky poles for those hard to reach ones.
Consider your requirements of daylighting, privacy, view and insulation before deciding on your choice of skylight cover.