Skylights: What Are They and What Are Their Advantages?
Skylights are a type of window that is placed in the ceiling or on top of a wall. They may seem uncommon to have in homes, but there are increasingly wide and adaptable varieties, and their installation is quite affordable.
This type of window allows for the entry of natural lighting in a much larger percentage than a common window. In addition, it adds style and distinction to the environment, as it gives a feeling of spaciousness to a room. Its models vary according to shape, size, materials, and placement.
The advantages of skylights
The installation of this type of window can be complex to perform with your own hands. However, their investment brings a number of benefits that often increase the value of a property.
One of the main advantages of skylights is the increased entry of natural light. As they are placed in the upper parts of the house, the sun’s rays enter with more intensity and for a longer period of time. This means energy savings, since it leads to lower consumption of electricity and heating.
When open, ordinary windows have the disadvantage of leaving the interior of the house exposed. To cover it, curtains can be placed, but they affect the entrance of light and air. Skylights allow permanent illumination without compromising privacy, since they’re located in hard-to-reach places.
It may seem like skylights can only be seen in older constructions, such as religious temples or architecturally designed buildings. However, they’re increasingly used in homes, due to their variety of sizes and adaptable materials. When chosen judiciously, they add decorative aesthetics and a distinctive style to the property.
Spaciousness and a view
Another advantage is that a skylight gives the feeling that the room where it’s located is more spacious. On the other hand, the direct view of the sky is a possibility that common windows do not have.
For example, if placed in a bedroom, a starry night is within reach. If you have outdoor scenery, you can take better advantage of your view.
Some skylights have manual ventilation and electrical control systems. They’re more expensive, but can prevent problems later. This type of window helps to ventilate humid environments and warm colder ones. In addition, by placing screens or blinds, it’s possible to filter the level of incoming light.
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Tips for choosing skylights
There are many types of skylights, classified according to size, material, and installation method. Whatever the choice, it’s a good idea to seek advice and installation from a specialist.
It’s advisable to take into account the type of roof and the distance of the supporting beams from the center, as they may require reinforcement. In general, skylights are grouped into three models.
- Fixed skylights are the most common variety on the market. They’re ideal for illuminating gloomy spaces in the house. Within this model, it’s possible to vary between rectangular, polygonal, or dome shapes, and also the quality of materials, such as glass or acrylic.
- Vented skylights. These are similar to fixed skylights, but with manual or remote-controlled opening and closing systems. Although they’re more expensive, they allow for better ventilation in humid spaces. In general, it’s recommended that they have additional frames to prevent water infiltration.
- Tubular skylights. This is a special model for small places, where others don’t fit. For example, they can be placed in corridors or bathrooms. Although they have a diameter of between 10 and 14 inches, they allow a good entry of light.
In general, to choose the size, it’s calculated that an individual skylight should never exceed 5% of the floor area where it will be installed. Another way is to compare it with the volume of the room, in which case it has to be around 15% of the total.
There are some aspects to take into account when selecting the location of the skylight. For example, it shouldn’t coincide with electric or water installations. In addition, it should be in harmony with the rest of the decoration of the room and, above all, receive as much sunlight as possible.
Although you can do the installation yourself, this is a task that’s quite complex. Working on roofs also carries a risk, you must have experience and the necessary tools.
It’s recommended that a contractor or roofing specialist carry it out, as the main problems with skylights derive from poor installation.
Frames and sealings
Some types of skylights, because of the way they are installed, require additional waterproofing frames. This prevents leaks and water seepage, which can lead to future structural damage.
This is an item that involves drilling holes in the roof, so the manufacturer usually includes both frames and flashing to help seal. It’s a good idea to pay attention that ultraviolet rays do not hit the furniture directly, as over time they become marked and ruined.
Roof types and materials
The choice of skylights is subject to the materials on which the house is built. The installation equipment is different for drywall, masonry, or wood shingles. Mounting forms vary between those that include a platform, those that are placed on the curb, and those known as flashing.
Just as tubular skylights – which are smaller – fit well in hallways or bathrooms, vented skylights are best used in kitchens to promote air renewal. Therefore, to choose the ideal model, the type and size of the room must also be taken into account.
Materials vary according to budget and desired quality. For example, acrylic domes are more budget-friendly but less aesthetically pleasing; therefore, they’re recommended for workshops or garages. Glass or crystal are better suited for living room decoration.
Others, with a higher budget, include thermal insulating glass, which prevents heat loss in winter and cools more in summer. This also depends on the climatic conditions of the area. Skylights are exposed, so regions with frequent hail falls require more resistant materials.
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Security and cleaning
They may seem like secondary considerations, but security is important, as skylights also represent an access route to the home. This must be taken into account at the time of installation, as well as the cleaning system.
Because they’re elevated, accessing them for cleaning also presents some difficulty. Another possible complication is the entrance of insects. To do this, there are protective screens or blinds that prevent their entry.
What to remember about skylights
In short, if you know how to choose the ideal environment for installation, skylights are an excellent alternative to provide natural light to the home. It’s always advisable to consult an expert in these cases and decide on your skylight according to the characteristics of your space.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Bastien, D. (2019). Natural ventilation with a supply air window and motorized skylight: a field study. IOP conference series, 609(3), 032005. https://doi.org/10.1088/1757-899x/609/3/032005
- Friedman, D. J. (s. f.). InspectApedia.com – Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair. (C)Copyright 2023 – 1985 Daniel Friedman, All Rights Reserved. https://inspectapedia.com/ventilation/Skylight_Ventilation.php
- Morales, L. (2017). El vidrio en la edificación: propiedades, aplicaciones y estudios de fracturas en casos reales [tesis final de grado]. UPCommons. https://upcommons.upc.edu/handle/2117/116414.
- Wallender, L. (2022). 4 Skylight Options: Fixed, Venting, Tubular, and Electric. The Spruce. https://www.thespruce.com/fixed-skylights-to-electric-venting-models-1822929