What are Skylights

Exterior Dome Skylight
Interior Dome Skylight
Irregular Skylight
 90 Degree Retractable Skylight
Fixed Skylight

Skylights are glazed structures that cover an opening in a roof or ceiling and are used to provide additional day light or ventilation to the space below. The skylight can consist of one or more glazed panels. Both fixed and operable varieties are available. Skylights can be glazed with glass or polycarbonate, with various coatings and tints available to increase performance in specific applications.

When spaces do not receive much natural daylight, skylights can be particularly useful. In cases when doors and windows are impractical, a skylight maintains privacy, yet allows sunlight to enter the space (generally through an opening in the roof).

  • Fixed Skylights are not operable, although ridge vents can be incorporated into larger units. This type of skylights is also generally shop pre-fabricated and shipped knocked down to be assembled in the field. Fixed skylights can be incorporated into any roof line’s pitch and are available in many shapes.
  • Retractable Skylights are single sloped and operate on a motorized cable system. The system can function independently or as part of a group. Retractable skylights provide large scale natural ventilation to spaces.
  • Operable Skylights, also known as venting skylights, operate on a hinge, either manually or with a motor, to allow fresh air to enter a space.
  • Curb Mount Skylights are generally designed as pre-assembled units to reduce field labor and to minimize mistakes. These skylights have welded corners that provide excellent protection against water and curb deflection. Some units may need to be glazed in the field.
  • 90 Degree Operable Skylights are operable skylights that lift 90 degrees to provide optimal ventilation. These skylights have multiple benefits, such as providing ample daylight and ventilation. They are also used in ecclesiastical applications.
  • Walkable Skylights are engineered to support foot traffic and act as a both a walkway and daylighting solution.

History of Skylights

During the Roman Empire, skylights were used to illuminate and ventilate buildings. These skylights did not feature glass and were opened to the elements, allowing raid to enter the building. The most well known open air skylight is the Oculus, a 27 foot wide opening in the Pantheon.

Glass skylights became prominent during the Industrial Revolution, when advances in manufacturing processes made glass more readily available. Today skylights can be glazed with a variety of high performance glass or polycarbonate options, in various tints to meet the needs of the building design.

Benefits of Skylights

Skylights have two main purposes: daylighting and ventilation.

Skylights provide daylighting by letting natural light enter the space below them, reducing the need for artificial lighting, while operable skylights aid in ventilation by allowing fresh air to enter the space.

Each cardinal direction provides a different amount of illumination and passive solar heat gain.

  • North facing skylights receive fairly consistent light throughout the day, but will receive very little solar heat gain.
  • East facing skylights receive most of their light in the morning, as well as most solar of their solar heat gain.
  • West facing skylights receive the most light in the afternoon and early evening. Large amounts of solar heat gain will occur in the late afternoon, potentially making rooms uncomfortable, depending upon the season.
  • South facing skylights provide the most solar heat gain, which is excellent in winter months, but these skylights may require shading during the summer months.

Natural lighting: Skylights allow natural light to enter the space below them. Studies have also shown that students and employees alike perform better when working in environments that utilize natural lighting.  Natural light has been proven to have numerous health benefits; including improving mood and increasing the body’s production of Vitamin D. Natural light also helps to prevent eye strain.

Natural Ventilation: Operable skylights provide spaces with natural ventilation. By opening a skylight, fresh air from the outside is allowed to circulate into a space.  The combination of operable skylights and operable windows can be used to create a natural ventilation and cooling system for any space.

Reduced energy consumption: Skylights reduce energy consumption by allowing spaces to utilize natural light, which reduces the need for artificial lighting. Properly oriented skylights also provide passive heating and cooling, reducing the load put on traditional HVAC systems.

Privacy: Skylights provide privacy by allowing light to enter a space without providing the open sight lines of doors and windows. Because the openings are generally located on a roof, visibility and privacy are not an issue.

Retractable Skylight

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