The Secrets of Skylight Installation

Guidelines for Installing this Energy Efficient Window in the Roof

Adding a skylight to any room in a home instantly transforms that room by bringing in natural light and solar radiant heat. This transformation, when used effectively, reduces energy costs in the winter and allows for natural air flow during spring and fall. Another advantage of a skylight’s natural light is the sense of well being people feel during winter months, since people tend to spend more time indoors.

This green remodeling project requires that a skylight be installed in the proper location on roof to take full advantage of its energy savings. As with any home remodeling project, there always tips things to avoid for maximizing installation effectiveness. The following are guidelines for selecting the optimal skylight and points to consider during installation.

Skylights: Selecting the Right Type, Style, and Materials

There are several types and style of skylights, which all are designed for specific installations or decorative features.

  • Ventilating – this type opens and closes using a hand crank or automatic temperature control. They are ideal for kitchens and bathrooms where moisture is a common problem.
  • Fixed – this type does not open and is designed to allow natural light in only.
  • Tubular – this type is designed to allow natural light into small rooms or hallways where typical skylights do not fit. Tube skylights are available in one-tube or multi-tube models.
  • Flat – this style is either a square or rectangle which is either ventilating or fixed.
  • Round – this style is a half sphere bubble that is fixed.
  • Dome – this style rounds above the surface of the roof and is ventilating or fixed.
  • Pyramid – this style is a four sided pyramid shaped skylight and is ventilating or fixed.

Skylights are made from three main materials laminated glass, acrylic, and synthetic Lexan. All have their own advantage and disadvantage factors. These factors are primarily due to the types of glazings, insulation factor, and durability. Glass offers better insulation with multiple pane options, while synthetic offer more durability.

Guidelines: Tips for Selection and Installation

skylight installation

The following guidelines provide tips and tricks for most advantageous skylight installation.

  • Multi-Pane Glass – these are the best option for high insulation factor, because of sealed air or inert gas pockets between the panes of glass. Multi-pane skylights also reduce the noise of rain hitting the surface.
  • Glass – this material type is more resistant to scratches, UV protection breakdown, and fire. Glass skylights is four time stronger than standard glass windows.
  • Acrylic – this material type is scratch resistant, weathers well, and fire resistant. Acrylic is 20 times stronger than standard glass windows.
  • Synthetic Lexan – is designed for areas of the country prone to hurricanes and severe storms. This material is 200 times stronger than standard glass windows.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) – this protection is a must for any skylight selection to control energy loss or gain and fading household furnishings.
  • Direction of Installation – a southern exposure is the best for optimal radiant heating during winter months. A western exposure needs to be avoided, because it leads to higher air conditioning energy bills in the summer months.
  • Shade/Blinds – while skylights provide additional natural light, at times it is necessary to block or reduce the natural light entering a room through the skylight. These are especially necessary when a two much western exposure, because an ideal location was not available.

Energy Savings: Coatings and Glazings

Coating and glazes improves the green design of a skylight. These materials are important for reducing energy loss and supporting energy gain. Coating and glazing materials depend on the size and type of skylight selected; the materials range in thickness from one-eighth to one-quarter inch.

  • Low E Coating/Reflective Coatings – these help the energy efficiency of a skylight by retaining radiant heat in the winter and controlling the amount of light during summer.
  • Tints – clear, bronze tint, grey tint, and white translucent are the standard tints available.
  • Frames – avoiding metal frames helps reducing energy loss. Wood, fiberglass, or acrylic frames offer less energy loss through transmission of radiant heat during summer months and heat from inside home during winter months.
  • Single Glazing – single glazing a plastic material that is available for acrylic, Lexan, and laminated glass. Single glazing is not recommended for heated rooms.
  • Dual Glazing – is available for acrylic and Lexan skylights. Double glazing is recommended for most installation situations.
  • Triple Glazing – provides 50 percent more insulation efficiency than dual glazing.
  • Polycarbonate Glazing – provides greater fire resistance and is virtually unbreakable.

Skylights are popular for green home remodeling. A skylight increases energy efficiency by eliminating heat transfer from inside to out during winter months, while taking advantage of solar radiant heat. These windows also support the flow natural light inside a home to reduce the use of artificial lighting, another second energy saving feature. Installation location and materials are the important factors to maximize energy savings.