Skylights, irrespective of their size, can instantly transform the look of a room. It brightens up a dark, dingy space creating the illusion of a larger area. What’s more? It looks classy and adds an exciting edge. An increased amount of natural light and heat could shrink your energy bills too.

In this short buying guide, we talk about the factors to consider when choosing the right skylight.

Why a skylight?

Knowing why you want to install a skylight can be a good starting point.

A skylight could be fitted for a number of reasons –

  • To increase the amount of natural light in low lit areas
  • To improve ventilation
  • To add a new dimension to the room; there’s nothing like watching the green shrubbery or the star-lit night from your home.

Types of Skylights

Continuing the point above, your need will dictate the type of skylight you choose.

Fixed and vented are the two primary skylight designs. As the name suggests, a fixed model is sealed on all sides. On the contrary, a vented design can be opened to let light and air stream in. Operation could be manual or electric. Tubular skylights allow natural daylight to filter into distant spaces that are otherwise hard-to-reach.

Darker spaces such as an attic or a stairwell can benefit from a fixed skylight. Damper areas such as bathrooms and kitchens can benefit greatly from a vented skylight. A custom skylight against stock designs looks fresh and exciting. They add a unique character to a room.

Besides, skylights come in different shapes. They could be square, round, and rectangular. Skylights could be dome-shaped, fitted flat or angled. Choose a skylight design that blends well with your home interiors and balances the design elements.

Placement

In most cases, skylights are more functional than aesthetic. Therefore, where you plan to fit the skylight becomes important too.

By fixing a skylight, you may want to increase the amount of light streaming into the room, but in a controlled manner. Fixing a spot for installation will decide the size of the skylight as well as the number.

You can control the amount of heat and light coming into the room. You may also want to consider the direction of the wind and the light stream. A faulty skylight placement can make the heat and light unbearable. Direct sunlight can make your room a furnace.

As a general rule, a skylight is fitted in the center of the room. However, if a central position is not an option for you, a tubular skylight could be your best bet. You will also need to consider other structural elements such as the structure of the roof, plumbing and electrical fittings.

Materials

Glass and plastic are the two material options for skylights. Plastic is lighter than glass. Plastic skylights are either made of polycarbonate or acrylic. Plastic is more flexible when it comes to molding into different shapes such as barrels, domes and pyramids.

Most professional roofers however do not recommend a plastic skylight due to a lower durability. They scratch easily and could cause leaks overtime.

Insulation

Glazing determines the energy efficiency of the skylight. Skylights can be single, double or triple glazed.

The coatings on the pane perform different functions – they trap heat and block UV. The effectiveness of the insulation is measured in terms of the U-value. The lower the value, the better the insulation. Modern skylights also feature a low-e coating. This is an invisible coat that blocks UV radiation and keeps the heat in. Insulation is important as excess sunlight could damage furniture and other interiors.

Accessories

Skylight designs now incorporate accessories to increase convenience of operability. Shades and blinds help regulate the amount of light coming in. It is a great feature especially if your skylight is fitted in a bedroom. If not, the sunlight streaming in can be a rude way to wake up early in the morning. Shades can also protect the skylight from weather elements such as rain and hail.

Cost

The final yet key consideration is cost. The cost is inclusive of the skylight design, size, material, insulation and glazing, the number of skylights, added accessories and installation process.

For instance, plastic is cheaper than glass. Fitting a large-sized skylight is relatively inexpensive than a smaller-sized one. However, the installation charges for a bigger skylight will be more than a smaller one. Stock designs cost less than custom-order designs.

In addition to all the factors mentioned above, you must also factor in the ease of maintenance of the skylight. You may also need building permits for a skylight installation in selected areas.

Keep these points in mind when evaluating the best skylight for your home. And, if you still find it difficult to decide, seek the expert advice of a professional roofer.