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Skylights

Last updated on 01/13/2022

An Open Skylight

Want to know what your future home and the Roman Pantheon's Oculus could have in common? Skylights.

The first glass skylights were built during Roman times, and the Oculus is a world-famous example of the power of "sky windows."

But are skylights suitable for your home?

Skylights can totally transform spaces from dark and drab, to light-filled and uplifting. But, if not installed correctly, they can also result in almost un-fixable leaks, heat build-up, and other unforeseen problems.

If you're on the fence about whether to install skylights, read on to find out everything you need to know about these special windows.

What Are Skylights?

Skylights are windows installed into the roofs of buildings. They are set at the same angle as the roof and can be installed on a variety of roofs and pitches.

Thanks to their unique capability to allow natural light into dark interiors, skylights are used in public buildings, commercial buildings, and residential homes.

Types of Skylights

Nowadays, there are a lot of different skylight options available. The three main categories are:

Fixed skylights can't open and simply provide increased light. Ventilating skylights operate like casement windows or crank windows.

Tubular skylights usually have dome-shaped glasses at the top, and a tubular shaft to transfer the light down through the ceiling. These are often called sun tunnels.

Ventilating and fixed skylights also sometimes need to have shafts built for this. However, if you have a cathedral ceiling, you won't need to have a shaft constructed between your roof and ceiling.

A lot of skylights are either domed or flat, but some designs also feature tunnel and pyramid shapes.

Skylight Glass

Most skylights are constructed out of low-E glass, but you can also get skylights that utilize plexiglass, acrylic sheeting, and reinforced glass.

You can also choose to get skylights with tempered, impact resistance glass, tinted glass, and Energy Star rated glass. These types of options typically cost more than standard glass.

When shopping for skylights, always make sure you go with a reputable brand, such as Velux, Sunoptics, FAKRO, or SIG.

The Benefits of Skylights

Installing skylights can be one of the most transformative things you can do, especially in dark, dim rooms. They also have a variety of other attractive benefits.

Extra Natural Light

The primary and most valuable advantage of skylights is they allow you to bring natural light into dark, gloomy interiors. Allowing natural light to flood into a dark room can radically change the feeling of the space. One could almost say it's a night and day difference!

Research has shown that poor lighting contributes to depression, while adequate lighting improves mood and energy levels. Exposure to sunlight during the day can also help to improve sleep patterns.

Ideally, all rooms should have enough windows to provide adequate natural light during the day. Unfortunately, many homes aren't built this way. In some cases, it simply isn't possible to bring in more light—except with the addition of a skylight.

A Beautiful Ambiance

Besides just providing extra light, skylights offer a special kind of light. They let in downward shafts of light which create a beautiful and unusual ambiance.

Most of us aren't used to experiencing downward light shafts in interior spaces. When we do, it can feel very uplifting and zen-like.

The Feeling of Extra Space

Another benefit of letting natural light in from above through skylights is that it triggers a feeling of extra space.

Skylights automatically become a feature in any room, and the downward shafts of light draw the eye up.

This feeling of upward ascension gives the illusion of additional visual space, opens up areas, and makes them feel roomier and more spacious.

More Heat in Winter

Besides letting in more light, skylights can also help your home naturally absorb more thermal heat in winter. To maximize this, you can place skylights on roof areas that get direct sunlight in winter.

Lower Energy Bills

Because skylights help your home trap heat, this can result in lower energy bills during the winter. Depending on the number and size of the skylights you install, you could be able to save considerably on heating costs.

Extra Ventilation

If you install ventilating skylights, these can allow for better airflow in your home. Skylights are a great place for built-up heat to escape from, as warm air naturally rises.

Potential Drawbacks of Skylights

While skylights have a lot of valuable advantages, they also have a few potential cons. Take note, however, that a lot of these drawbacks come from improper installation.

Too Much Glare

One of the drawbacks of skylights is that they can let too much light into your home, resulting in harsh glare, especially if you have an all-white space. The best way to prevent this is by installing skylight shades or skylight blinds.

Overheated Spaces

Another drawback of skylights is that they can trap too much heat in your home during summer months. However, you can avoid or minimize this by clever roof placement and utilizing skylight blinds and skylight shades.

Heat Loss During Winter

Skylights can also cause additional heat losses during winter nights. The best way to avoid this is to install high-quality skylights that offer extra insulation features.

Badly Installed Skylights Can Leak

A few decades ago skylights were notorious for being leaky nightmares. Fortunately, skylight designs have evolved since then and most skylights aren't prone to leaks anymore. However, if your installer doesn't do a good job at putting them in, you might be landed with a very hard-to-solve leak problem.

To avoid this, make sure you go with an installer who specializes in skylights.

Skylights Can Be Hard to Clean

Lastly, high-up skylights can be hard to access and clean. Therefore, try to avoid installing them in roof areas that see a lot of leaf fall and think about how you will be able to get to them when it's time to clean the glass.

Average Costs of Having a Skylight Installed

The cost of installing a skylight will very much depend on the type of skylight you choose, whether you have it professionally installed, and if you need to have a framed tunnel (also known as a chase) built between your roof and ceiling.

Fixed skylights typically cost between $150 and $500. A ventilating skylight that opens manually with a hand crank will probably run you $300 to $600. If you opt for an electronically controlled skylight, then the damage to your wallet will likely be between $600 and $1,000.

Professional installation will probably cost a further $200 to $400. If you need to build a chase, this can cost between $1,000 and $1,500.

Are You Looking for Quotes for Skylights?

Skylights can be a game-changing addition to your home. They can light up dim spaces like corridors, funnel natural light into key areas like bathrooms and kitchens, and create an illusion of space and dimension.

Are you considering adding a skylight or two to your home and are on the hunt for quotes? Utilize our easy quote finder and comparison tool located at the top of this page. All you have to do is enter the relevant information, and you'll have three quotes in under 60 seconds.

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