Adding skylights during a home renovation project is a great idea. However, choosing the right skylight from the many available on the market can be quite daunting.
There are two primary objectives when you consider a skylight for your home.
The first is a simple need to introduce more natural light into the home to make the space brighter and more welcoming, and as a functional and economical alternative to electric lighting during the day. Lower energy costs, improved look and feel, and a healthy environment around the home are some of the benefits of using sunlight as your source of light indoors.
The second most common objective of adding skylights is to create a feature that allows you to see the sky and nature during the day (and night), potentially open up the roof space to make a room feel bigger, and enjoy a standout feature inside the home.
With these two objectives in mind, there are a number of issues that should be considered in terms of budget, design aesthetic and the structural limitations of the building.
Bringing workable and usable natural light to replace electric lighting that the family can enjoy all year round, can be achieved at a reasonable price, and the best example of this is a tube skylight. Featuring extremely reflective tubing and high levels of technology, these products are able to bring more natural light with substantially less heat gain than other much larger systems. While tubes are the most effective way to bring large amounts of light into the home, round and square finishing options at ceiling level can still be matched to complement your décor and style.
However, when design is an important consideration, you can choose a skylight that allows you to see the sky day and night through a window, but this will typically involve much higher costs, and should be researched extensively prior to commencement of work. While windows can range from $600-$1200 depending on the size and quality, it is often the installation component that can substantially increase the price of such projects.
The aesthetic design and location of the skylight is the second main consideration.
Delivering natural light into the interior of the home through a tubular system will provide great flexibility to position the ceiling fixture almost anywhere in your home, generally only excluding lower floors in two storey homes (although sometimes even this is possible). This effectively means you can deliver natural light precisely where it is needed the most.
If your budget permits a grander feature, windows can really come alive by changing the design of your ceiling with light wells. This will allow you to see the sky from many angles, open up the room and light up the entire space. Consider adding blinds to such features to reduce excessive heat gain during summer.
One of the most challenging areas of the home is the central/mid-section, as it is often the furthest section for natural light to reach. Tubular systems in such situations benefit greatly from the higher position on the roof and will bring in light over a longer distance without loss of intensity. The specific design of the ceiling fixture will also spread or diffuse the light much more evenly throughout the space at all times of the day.
Roof windows require deep light wells from the ceiling to the top of the roof, which greatly reduces the view of the outside and the amount of light they bring in. These can also cost more due to the additional plaster work required. The deep wells can create square or rectangular light patches on the floor that will transition across the room as the sun moves across the sky and will limit access to sunlight early morning and late afternoon.
Choosing between a tube skylight and a roof window will depend on the outcome you seek – a workable source of light evenly spread via a tube Vs a window feature.