Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Skylights vs Daylighting Systems

When there is not enough natural daylight available in a part of a home, the traditional solution has been to supplement the light from the windows with that from a skylight. While this option may increase the amount of light available, it comes at a cost which is often far too high. This may seem to be an exaggeration, but consider the following:

  • A skylight is one of the most common causes of water leaks from the roof. Repairing a bad skylight installation is not only difficult and expensive, there is no certainty that the leak will not reappear. Condensation on the inner surface of the glass that drips down is another problem you may have to face. This is especially true in the case of a bathroom which is part of the house that often has inadequate natural light entry.
  • A skylight may allow too much light to enter, especially if it is on the sunny side of the house or on the east or west face. This will not only make the room uncomfortable, the excess UV radiation will cause paint and fabric to fade and lose their colors.
  • A skylight is basically a hole in the roof with glass in it. This means that it will allow a huge amount of heat to pass through. In other words, the room will become very hot in summer and remain very cold in winter because of the heat loss. The effect on your utility bills in terms of air conditioning and heating costs can be massive.
  • Accumulations of snow, leaves, dirt and debris on the skylight can reduce the amount of light that enters the room to the extent that the skylight is ineffective.
  • Most skylights use either deck seals and gaskets or adhesive underlayment and engineered flashing. All these components tend to fail over time, resulting in leaks and heat loss.

The Daylighting Alternative

Daylighting systems have none of these problems. They use a small roof mounted collector to collect the maximum available sunlight. This is then piped to that part of the home where it is needed most using special highly reflective pipes that reduce light loss to an insignificant amount. The light then enters a special light fitting in the room from where it is diffused. In other words it provides natural daylight in a manner similar to electric lighting. Installation is simple and once installed nothing further need to be done to keep it functioning. There are none of the problems or disadvantages of skylights.

Tubular Daylighting devices (TDDs) offer a much safer, energy efficient and effective way of bringing daylight into your home than skylights. These systems use state of the art technology to carry natural sunlight through walls and ceilings to those parts of the home which need it the most. There are also systems that incorporate LED lighting so the same fitting that provides daylight during the day can provide light at night. With the range of elegant fittings available, TDDSs are not just the way to light your home naturally; they are also the future of lighting.