There are many benefits to adding a skylight to your home, and many factors are involved when selecting a skylight to buy.

1. Energy Performance

It's important to make sure you know some things about your home before you buy a particular skylight. Skylights have energy performance ratings. The skylight you choose should also depend on the design and climate of your home. The entire skylight needs to be energy efficient, including the frame and sash, which are made from different materials. Each material has a different thermal performance. Skylights made of aluminum are durable, and most will not peel or rot. Some have low thermal performance resulting in energy loss and heat loss. Aluminum frames with thermal barriers will insulate more effectively. Fiberglass frames and sashes are excellent for energy performance. They maintain large expanses of glass due to their thermal stability. Fiberglass is durable in all types of temperatures and won't shrink, warp, or swell. Shop around till you find a skylight with a rating that has the thermal efficiency you need.

2. Types Of Skylights

Skylights used to be a single thickness of glass set in a frame. Things have changed a lot, as they now come with laminated or tempered glass. They are also coated, so heat transmission and UV radiation are moderated. The two basic types of skylights are flat glassed and domed acrylic. Flat-glassed skylights are simple to install. They are mounted in a wood or structured rubber with a metal framework. They come in tempered, laminated, or wire glass that is made of safety glass. Domed acrylic skylights are made to be shatterproof and efficient. They are easy to install on the roof because of their light weight. One of the most common skylights is called curb-mounted. It is a wood frame made to create a curb, and it is sealed so it is part of the roof. The three main classes of skylights are ventilating, fixed, and tubular. If you prefer air to pass through, then you may want to buy a skylight that is ventilating. This type of skylight is controlled in different ways such as remote, hand crank, or automatically by the temperature in the house. A fixed skylight won't open, and its only purpose is to let light into the house. If you're looking for a small skylight to buy, then a tubular would be ideal especially if your rooms are small. Other types of skylights are hip-ridge, patio, barrel vault, and custom. You can also buy electric skylights or electrically-operated sky lights.

3. Skylight Size Specification

Roofs with a 15-inch or higher slope are usually a good fit for a skylight. Always check with the company that made the skylight to ensure you have the correct size to fit your roof. An overly large skylight isn't always the best choice, as too much heat can escape in cold weather and enter in hot weather. Since more light comes into your home from a skylight than a regular window, you should consider how much sun hits your roof, and how much the temperature changes in your home from one season to the next. You can have your skylight positioned to control how much heat and light you want. The amount of solar heat supplied depends on the angle or slope of the skylight. It's recommended to position a skylight so the slope matches your geographical latitude, and then add approximately 5 to 15 degrees. Positioning of a skylight that faces north will give cool illumination. There will be a lot of light and heat in the morning if skylights are positioned toward the east. Afternoon sunlight and heat come from west-facing skylights. South-facing skylights are great in the winter, but can provide too much heat during the summer. This can be remedied by using a shading device on the outside or inside of the skylight. You can also put the skylight in an area where there are shade trees.

4. Design And Shape

There are many shapes of skylights to choose from. The shape of a skylight determines the amount of daylight it provides. This also depends on what time of day it is. They usually come under the ventilating and fixed categories, and are often made for sloping or flat roofs. Rectangular, oval, diamond, and circular are some examples of skylight shapes. Plastic skylights can be molded into almost any shape you want. Forms include pyramidal, arched, and dome. These types of designs are raised, so they can help shed moisture and leaves. They also provide more positioning choices, and have deep angles where light enters. They don't need extra framing for proper drainage. There are also domed, flat, or tubular shapes. Shapes like polygon, pyramid, self-flashing single slope, and single slope are usually glass or fiber-reinforced plastic that can be made in most sizes.

5. Materials

The materials used in a skylight are important for safety reasons, their reliability, and to save you money on your light bills. Skylights are often made from material such as glass, glass composites, plastics, and plastic composite. Plastic materials are usually shatterproof, but they can become brittle and will scratch easily. UV rays can come through plastic and cause deterioration and discoloring. Acrylics and polycarbonates are used for most plastics. Plastic can be made stronger if certain fibers such as glass are added. Glass is harder than plastic, but it's made with a safety glazing. Safety glazing means tempered and laminated glass. Tempered and laminated glass will prevent glass from breaking into large, sharp pieces. Triple glazing will install three layers of glass, which will provide the best insulation. Another advantage of glass is a limitless life and high light transmission. Fiberglass is another glazing material. Acrylic, polycarbonates, and fiberglass materials range in colors such as bronze, greys, clear, and translucent white. There are also differences in thickness and number of layers. The kind of glazing that is used is important because it affects the caliber of the light and energy efficiency.

6. Ventilation

If you want more ventilation in your home, then you can buy and install a skylight for that specific reason. Ventilation is needed to control humidity and eliminate odors throughout your whole house. You can develop health problems if there isn't proper ventilation in your home. The installation is an easy process. Skylights for ventilation prevent a lot of heat loss in the cold months, and less heat during the hot months. This type of skylight is good for rooms that aren't well ventilated. Some skylights can be hinged and triggered to allow odors such as smoke to be released. Ventilation skylights can prevent moisture buildup in bathrooms and kitchens. You may not even need an air conditioner with a ventilation skylight. Most ventilation skylights open outward from the bottom, usually manually, crank, or with a remote. There is a design available that uses a swing-down inner sash. It has a protected vent strip above it. This type of design can keep rain or snow out of the room if you have the vents open. There is a small hinged panel where some skylights vent. There are skylights with moisture sensors that close when it rains.

7. Cost

Many things can determine how much a skylight will cost, and size is a main factor in the price. Most regular sized skylight prices range between $800.00 and $1500.00. A small skylight can cost around $300.00. Custom skylights with glass cost more than custom skylights that are acrylic. Tubular skylights can cost anywhere between $200.00 and $500.00. Tubular skylights are a good alternative, if a regular size is too much for your budget. Ceiling dome skylights can cost from $640.00 to $5,200.00. Installation is around an additional $650.00, if there are no problems, but installation cost for some skylights can raise the costs up to $2000.00. Advanced energy-efficient skylights cost more then low quality products. One dollar can be added to every square foot of glazing in special glasses. A good thing is that it won't take long to recover your initial investment. Installing a skylight yourself may save you money. Extra devices such as shading or venting will increase the cost. If special glazing materials are included, the cost will be higher. Plastic glazing is less expensive then glass glazing. Insulation and durability factors should be taken into consideration when buying skylights. The more durable a unit is, the higher the cost. The type and slope of the roof you have can also influence pricing. Get at least three estimates or quotes if you plan on having a professional install your sunlight since fees can range tremendously. Make sure you get references to check their skill levels.

8. Installation

These are only a few of the directions you'll need to follow. Make sure you carefully read the manufacturer's instructions for installing skylights. If you think you can't do the job yourself, then hire a professional contractor. First, you should figure out the roof opening location for the skylight. The corners and center of the ceiling openings need to be marked before you cut through to the roof. It's important to check your markings against the roof opening and the angle of light. Cut a 2-foot square test hole in the ceiling. The hole should be cut in the area of the center of the light shaft. Wherever you want light to come in is where the ceiling opening should be. A drywall or a saber saw can be used to cut the hole. A reciprocating saw can be used to cut through wallboard. You need to protect yourself against the dust with a painter's mask and wear goggles. After you cut along the guidelines with a drywall saw, then take out the material in the ceiling. Cut through the ceiling joists and frames as much as you need for the skylight opening. You may need to reroute plumbing pipes or electrical wiring before you cut ceiling joists. The ceiling opening has to be framed. The route where the tubing will reach the roof can be found from the attic. Installing skylights has to be done properly in order to give your home the right amount of warmth and light.

9. Maintenance And Cleaning

Rain usually washes away the dirt on a skylight, but sometimes you'll need to clean the inside. If the rain leaves dirt behind, then the outside will need cleaning, as well. Dirt can cause scratches, so it's important to clean your skylight at least once a year. The frame is easy to take care of; just wash it with water and a mild detergent if you prefer. Be careful when cleaning plastic glazing because it can be damaged by harsh cleaners. Strong solvents such as gasoline or acetone aren't good to clean with. Kitchen scouring products may harm the surfaces of skylights. You can also clean glass with mild soap and water. Rinse completely if you use detergent. If your skylight is flat glass, you can use a squeegee on some type of pole. Self-cleaning glass is also an option. For grease or tar stains, you can use a good grade of kerosene, hexane, or methanol. Follow directions and make sure you wash away any oily residue with mild soap and water. Non-solvent auto paste wax can be used to wax your skylight occasionally, which will reduce scratches on plastic. Use a soft clean cloth and only apply a thin even coat. Wipe with a damp cloth to prevent electrostatic charges. The movable parts of a skylight may need maintenance and lubrication at times to ensure it continues to work at it's best. Be very careful when you're on the roof and stay off a wet roof.
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