8 Things to Know Before Installing Skylights

Residential | April 23, 2021

Skylights get a bad rap for being leak-prone. This is due to poor installation techniques by unqualified roofers. A skylight properly installed will last for 20+ years without a problem!
The key is to make sure it’s the right kind for the roof pitch because a steep-slope skylight cannot be installed on a low-slope roof. Additionally, different flashing systems must be used with different kinds of roofing materials such as metal and shingles.

We’ve created this list of pros and cons for you to review and consider prior to you adding skylights to your home or business!

Skylights add natural light (goodbye light bulbs!)

Okay – only say goodbye to light bulbs during the day. Even if there is cloud coverage, your skylight still welcomes natural sunlight into your home! Often, you won’t even need to turn on your lights because of how bright this natural light can be! This welcomed brightness has the potential to lower your electricity bill.

Skylights can make a room feel larger

While a skylight is an excellent addition to any room, it can transform a smaller space. Allowing natural light to enter through the ceiling creates a feeling of openness even if the room is on the smaller side. This effect can be particularly impactful for townhomes and multifamily units that only have windows in the front and rear of the home.

Direction of skylights affects energy efficiency

Skylights facing east will experience the most light and heat in the morning as the sun rises. Conversely, skylights facing west get the most light and heat in the afternoon and early evening as the sun sets. If your skylight faces south, you’ll get the most sunlight but this also increases the amount of heat transmitting inside. Rooms may be more likely to overheat with south-facing skylights. 

Use the directions to your advantage! If you’re in a colder climate and want the heat savings, consider a south-facing skylight. You could always add a shade if needed during the summer!

You can’t put skylights just anywhere

Maintaining the structural integrity of your home is key. Skylights would look great for any room, but you’ll need to make sure they are installed in the correct areas! Have a qualified roofing contractor inspect the roof to identify where skylights can be safely installed. 

Skylights can impact your mood

When daylight savings ends in November, we aren’t exposed to as much sunlight. This can lead to fatigue, problems sleeping, low energy, and weakened concentration, along with many other symptoms, often associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

While SAD isn’t only during the fall and winter months, less sunlight exposure anytime throughout the year throws off many chemicals in your body, such as melatonin and serotonin. As stated earlier in the article, even cloudy days bring in natural light. Installing skylights can help lessen the effects of minimal sun exposure.  

 

Types of Skylights

Flat vs domed

Flat glass is the most common, and most cost-effective.  Slightly curved glass is sometimes used on flat roofs so that rain water doesn’t set on top and cause puddle stains. 

Fixed vs vented

Fixed skylights are skylights that are not operable; they cannot open/close. These can be put in places where you only want the benefits of natural lighting, and are not concerned with air circulation or ventilation. In areas such as bathrooms or other places where there is a build-up of moisture in the air, a venting skylight is highly recommended. This allows for quick release of that moisture and keeps condensation from ruining paint/interior surfaces over time. Venting skylights come in solar-powered, electric, or manually operated options. The electric and solar ones come with a remote, and also have an automatic rain sensor so they close when it starts raining. Venting skylights help improve the health of your home climate by providing easy access to fresh air. The entire cost to supply and install any solar-powered skylight is eligible for the 26% federal tax credit in 2021.

Glass vs plastic

Glass is definitely the product of choice, as it is much stronger than plastic or acrylic domes. Plastic or acrylic is typically only used on domed skylights (usually commercial applications) where it is ineffective to use glass due to the curvature.  Velux makes really cool glass you can check out!

Shades & accessories

Any standard sized skylight can be fitted with an array of blinds, either light-filtering or blackout; in multiple colors. These come with a small solar panel which attaches to the outside of the skylight, allowing them to be powered with a handy remote. These take skylights to the next level of efficiency and ease of use, as the shades can be used for privacy and for blocking/shading sunlight to change the ambience or temperature of a room. As with any solar product, having a solar-powered blind installed on any of your skylights (fixed or vented) makes the entire installation eligible for the 26% federal tax credit in 2021!

 

Quality matters

Speak with a roofing professional to discuss what skylight options are best for your needs and wants. Keep in mind the impact that certain brands, styles, and shapes can have on energy efficiency, noise reduction, and water tightness. Your climate and home design can have a major impact so it’s important to consider which quality factors mean the most to you.

 

What about sun tunnels?

Sun tunnels are becoming a popular option to add natural light in your home! A sun tunnel’s exterior dome shape captures light and magnifies it. This light is then carried down the tube into the light diffuser. Flat surfaced sun tunnels are made with glass to be flush with the roof line. The glass options are typically less energy efficiency and don’t allow as much light to enter.

Sun tunnels don’t provide a direct view of outside so it doesn’t let in as much direct sunlight as a skylight. However, sun tunnels are perfect for smaller, dimly lit areas like a hallway, bathroom, or closet. 

Since they aren’t as large as skylights, it typically only requires 1-2 professionals to easily install sun tunnels in your home. This may save some labor costs!

You can order a solar-energized night-light to qualify the entire expense for a 26% tax credit in 2021, making SunTunnels very cost effective and a super cool way to get natural sunlight into those areas.

 

Talk to Joyland Roofing!

We specialize in residential and commercial roofing in southeastern Pennsylvania and beyond! We would love to inspect your roof and provide a detailed quote for your skylights or sun tunnels if they’re a good fit.