Enlightening our Homes with Skylights

February 20 2018 0comment

Enlightening our Homes with Skylights

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Skylights, or roof lights have a long history – they were used in ancient Roman architecture, but were unglazed and open to the elements at that time.  Glazed roof lights have been around since the Industrial Revolution brought progress in glass production and, since the mid 201th Century, the use of skylights to enable more light to enter the building has soared.  Last week we took a look at the benefits to be gained by installing roof lights in both domestic and commercial premises.  In a nutshell, they are:

  • Increased energy efficiency

  • Decrease in energy bills

  • Health benefits of daylight

  • Increased ventilation

  • Easier access to roof

We promised that this week we’d take a look at the different types of roof lights available nowadays as technological advances and modern materials technology have brought roof lights bang up to date for the 21st Century.  

  • Pitched Rooflights – these gained prominence in the 1970s with the loft conversion boom when they took over from dormer windows as a method of bringing in more light.  Popularised by Velux, a pitched roof light could be fitted in a day from the inside, reducing the need for outside roof access.

  • Fixed Unit Skylights – consist of a structural perimeter frame that supports the glazing infill but doesn’t satisfy any requirement for ventilation.

  • Operable Skylights – these use a hinged sash attached to the frame so that the skylight (or roof window) can be opened for ventilation purposes.

  • Retractable Skylight – this type of skylight is on a set of tracks which allows it to roll off the frame, opening the space below to the outside.

  • Tubular Daylight Devices – this is a roof-mounted fixed unit skylight which condenses the sunlight and distributes it via a light-conveying optic to a light diffusing element.  They are small in diameter and can be used to bounce light into darker spaces below.

  • Roof Lanterns – the glazed lantern was developed as far back as the Middle Ages and used in Renaissance architecture in cathedrals and orangeries.  Post-Renaissance roof lanterns were made from timber and glass which rendered them prone to leaks.  Roof lanterns have been enjoying a bit of a renaissance over the past few years, especially with home owners who seem them as an elegant addition to their homes.  Contemporary designs mean that they can be manufactured with minimal glazing bar connectors, ensuring more light than ever.

On flat roofs where skylights or roof lanterns have been installed, there’s usually a requirement for roof access in order to carry out regular cleaning and maintenance.  Some modern roof lanterns can take up most of the space on a flat roof which is great for those down below as they get the full force of natural daylight.  However, it’s a big area to clean, which will need doing on a regular basis.  Providing some sort of collective safety equipment such as a roofwalker system or demarcation barrier system to designate the safe area to walk on when carrying out regular cleaning and maintenance.

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