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Skylights: Unveiling History, Types and Superior Benefits

November 9, 2023

Learn all about skylights: their fascinating history, different types, and unparalleled benefits that enhance energy efficiency and aesthetic appeal. Come, let’s transform your space!

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Introduction to Skylights

Skylights are a specialized type of window installed onto roofs to increase the influx of natural light into a space. They have the ability to transform rooms into well-lit, airy abodes, making them incredibly popular in contemporary architecture and design.

One notable benefit of skylights is the energy-saving aspect. As they allow more sunlight to penetrate a room, the need for artificial lighting decreases, thereby reducing electricity consumption. Additionally, skylights also have a unique aesthetic appeal, adding a touch of elegance to a home’s design while providing occupants a view of the sky and the encompassing weather.

Different Types of Skylights

When it comes to skylights, there is a variety available to cater to the diverse design taste, structural needs, and budgets. They range from fixed, vented, and tubular skylights, with each type having unique features.

Key Takeaways:

  • Installing a skylight tube can transform any dimly lit space into a vibrant area filled with natural light, enhancing the ambiance and functionality of the room. With careful preparation and attention to detail, the installation process can be efficient and rewarding.
  • Skylight tubes offer a practical and cost-effective solution for bringing natural light into areas where traditional windows or skylights may not be feasible. By following the step-by-step guide, homeowners can enjoy the benefits of improved lighting, energy efficiency, and a connection to the outdoors.

Historical Overview of Skylights

The concept of skylights dates back to the Roman era, where these architectural masterpieces were prevalent in temples and public baths to allow light to flood the space. Over the centuries, skylights have evolved drastically, incorporating various designs, materials, and technologies.

Earlier skylights were made from materials like mica or paper, while glass and plastic are more commonly used in modern skylights. Technology has further enhanced the functionality of skylights through features like self-cleaning glass and temperature regulation, making them more convenient and efficient.

Comparing old and modern skylights

Modern skylights are more advanced and efficient than their older counterparts. While they serve the same primary purpose of illuminating spaces, contemporary skylights offer added benefits of enhanced light control, energy efficiency, and more designs and material options.

Types and Styles of Skylights

In contemporary times, there are three main types of skylights, each with their unique designs and functions. Fixed skylights, as the name suggests, are permanently sealed and provide continuous illumination. They are ideal for attics and loft spaces which don’t require ventilation.

Vented skylights, on the other hand, have the ability to open either manually or through motorized operators, offering natural light and ventilation. This type is suitable for kitchens or bathrooms where ventilation is necessary.

Tubular Skylights

Tubular skylights, also known as sun tunnels, are compact and versatile. They funnel the daylight into a small tube using reflective material and then disperse it into a room through a diffuser. These are perfect for smaller spaces like hallways or closets where traditional skylights may not fit.

Different Shapes of Skylights

Skylights come in a variety of shapes to suit different architectural designs and personal preferences. Flat skylights, as the name suggests, have a flat surface, giving a minimalistic, modern feel. They blend seamlessly with the architectural design of your building, providing lots of overhead light while making the room look more spacious.

Domed skylights curve outwards, providing a unique aesthetic feature to your home. The curved surface prevents water accumulation and allows for a more comprehensive distribution of light across the room, making it appear brighter and more vibrant.

Pyramid Skylights

Last but not least, pyramid skylights are a type of architectural skylight known for their appealing aesthetic. Shaped like a pyramid, these skylights can serve as the focal point on a flat roof, providing an attractive look while maximizing natural light inflow to your home.

Materials used in Skylight Manufacturing

The materials used in making skylights greatly impact their performance, durability, and aesthetics. Two common materials utilized in skylight manufacturing are glass and plastic.

Glass skylights are robust and more durable, providing clear and distortion-free views. They are resistant to scratching and have superior noise reduction capabilities. Modern glass skylights often feature tempering, tinting, or low-E coatings for improved performance.

Plastic Skylights

On the other hand, plastic skylights, typically made of acrylic or polycarbonate, are lightweight and less susceptible to breakage, making them suitable for areas prone to hail or falling debris. They are economical and generally come in a variety of shapes and colors. However, they tend to discolor and become less clear over time.

How do Skylights Work

Skylights function as a conduit for sunlight to brighten up interior spaces. They can be installed on any part of a roof, letting in daylight and turning it into radiant light that fills the room. The positioning, size, and design of a skylight dictate how much light enters a room and how it gets distributed.

Furthermore, Skylights also have an impact on the room’s temperature. They create a greenhouse effect, allowing sunlight to enter but trapping the infrared radiation that heats the interior. It’s essential to take local climate and weather conditions into account when planning skylight installation.

Energy Efficiency of Skylights

Skylights can provide energy efficiency in a variety of ways. They reduce reliance on artificial lighting, thereby saving energy. During cold weather, they allow sunlight to heat spaces naturally. But, during summer, skylights must be shaded or fitted with low solar heat gain glazing to prevent overheating. However, the skylight’s effectiveness as an energy-saving tool greatly depends on its design, the quality of its installation, and the strategies employed to control light and heat.

Benefits of Installing Skylights

Skylights offer numerous benefits that add value to your home or office space. Installing a skylight results in more sunlight that illuminates your space, enhancing the overall ambiance.

One of the most immediate benefits is natural light. This can drastically transform a dark, dreary room into a bright, welcoming space. Natural light also promotes health and wellness, improving mood and productivity.

Energy Saving

Skylights can contribute to significant energy savings. By allowing ample sunlight to enter the house, the reliance on artificial lighting decreases, reducing energy use and your electricity bills.

Aesthetical Appeal

Beyond the functional benefits, skylights add an aesthetic appeal to your home. They serve as a design feature that opens up the space, adds character, and creates a focal point, enhancing your home’s architectural design.

Skylight Size and Positioning

Size and positioning play crucial roles in maximizing the effectiveness of a skylight. They can affect how much light enters the space, the light distribution, and the heat gain or loss.

When it comes to sizing, bigger isn’t always better. A skylight’s size should correlate to the room’s size. As a rule of thumb, the skylight size should not be more than 5% of the total floor area in rooms with many windows and no more than 15% in rooms with just a few windows.

Where to Position the Skylight

The right positioning can enhance the skylight’s performance. For instance, north-facing skylights provide constant but cool illumination, whereas south-facing ones offer more solar heat gain. Moreover, placing a skylight near a wall can help distribute light more evenly in the room.

The Cost of Skylights

The costs associated with skylights can vary widely depending on their type, quality, and installation complexity. A basic fixed skylight might start at a more affordable price, while advanced models with remote controls or weather sensors will be more expensive.

The material of the skylight will also impact the cost. Glass skylights are generally more expensive than plastic ones due to their longevity and better performance, although plastic skylights are more budget-friendly and can still offer excellent benefits.

Added Costs

Beyond the skylight unit’s cost, you also need to factor in costs for professional installation, particularly for complex jobs or large skylights. Regular maintenance costs should also be considered to ensure peak performance and longevity of your skylights.

Installing Skylights

Installing a skylight requires careful planning and precision. It involves cutting a hole in your roof and then framing the structure before the skylight is set in place. Roof rafters may need adjusting, and shingles near the skylight might need replacing.

Flashings must be installed correctly to ensure protection from rain and other weather elements. Installing skylights on a steep sloped roof is usually easier compared to flat roofs as it requires specific installation methods to prevent water ponding.

DIY Installation Guide

For those who are handy, DIY installation might be an option. It requires understanding your roofing structure, selecting the right skylight, and following a detailed installation guide. It’s always recommended to have a competent helper given the task’s physical nature.

Professional Installation Guide

However, due to the complexities involved, hiring a professional installer is often the best approach. Professionals come with experience dealing with installations on different roof types, ensuring structural integrity, and ensuring proper installation to prevent any potential leaking issues in the future.

Maintaining Skylights

Skylights are designed to be low maintenance, but regular checks and cleanings are necessary to ensure continued peak performance. Dusting and cleaning skylights help keep them clear for optimum natural light. Checking for leaks or any signs of aging is also recommended.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance involves cleaning the skylight with a mild, non-abrasive glass cleaner and a soft cloth. For hard-to-reach skylights, using a long-handled squeegee can be quite helpful. Regular checks for any signs of cracks, leaks, or sealant failures can help prevent more substantial issues down the line.

Fixing Minor Issues

In case of minor issues like a small leak or crack, quick repairs may be possible. It might involve applying a new layer of sealant or replacing a single glass panel. If problems persist or for significant issues, you should reach out to a professional for assistance.

Safety Measures With Skylights

Skylights, like any other part of the home, require considering certain safety measures. From installation to regular use, ensuring safety is crucial for preventing any mishaps and maintaining the longevity of the skylight.

Proper Handling

Proper handling during installation is vital. Falling from the roof or accidentally dropping the skylight are risks. It’s critical to ensure that the rooftop is dry and there is no risk of sliding. Use safety gear when installing a skylight, such as safety harnesses and slip-resistant shoes.

Weather Considerations

Weather considerations are also crucial. Installing skylights during rainy seasons can lead to water damage. Likewise, during regular use, it’s essential to ensure that skylights are closed during bad weather to prevent water leakage, and that exterior-mounted accessories, like shades, are brought inside.

Potential Hazards

For skylights installed within reach, potential hazards include accidental impacts, especially for children. Considering a skylight made from sturdy materials, like laminated glass, can prevent shattering and potential injuries. Adequate fall protection is also necessary for certain styles of skylights, in compliance with local building codes.

Skylights and Architecture

The use of skylights in architecture goes beyond their functional role of providing natural light and ventilation. They add a unique aesthetic element, serving as a design feature that interacts with the structural aspects of a building in intriguing ways.

A skylight can be a central focus or a subtle addition, blending seamlessly with other architectural components. It can emphasize a space’s height, draw attention to specific architectural details, or create a visually pleasing contrast with the building’s horizontal plane.

Skylights in Different Architectural Styles

Skylights can enhance various architectural styles. In modern and contemporary architecture, for instance, they help create the open, airy spaces and strong indoor-outdoor connection that these styles are known for. For traditional or historic buildings, skylights can provide a surprising element of light and openness without conflicting with the structure’s classic lines.

Famous Buildings with Skylights

Many iconic buildings incorporate skylights into their design. For example, the Louvre’s famous glass pyramid is essentially a massive skylight for the underground lobby. The Reichstag building in Berlin features a distinctive glass dome skylight, symbolizing transparency in German politics.

Skylights in Interior Design

The impact of skylights on an interior’s design is immeasurable. They can dramatically alter a room’s atmosphere, making spaces seem larger and more open, inviting nature inside, and creating unique lighting effects.

A skylight can give an otherwise ordinary room striking appeal and make it feel more spacious by adding depth and dimension. Particularly in small or cluttered interiors, a skylight can reduce reliance on artificial lighting and improve the space’s overall ambiance.

Enhancing Space

Whether it’s illuminating a dark hallway or spotlighting a living room’s focal point, a skylight can emphasize and enhance specific areas within a space. Moreover, by casting shadows that move and change throughout the day, skylights can create a dynamic, ever-evolving room style.

Mood Enhancement

By modulating light and forming a bridge between outdoors and indoors, skylights can also influence the mood of a room. They add a unique charm and coziness to interior spaces and can even impact our mood and productivity by tapping into our deep psychological connection with natural light.

Energy Efficiency and Skylights

Skylights can contribute significantly to a building’s energy efficiency. From heating to ventilation, they play different roles in different climates, ultimately reducing reliance on artificial lighting and air conditioning.

Sunlight and Heating

In colder climates, strategically positioned and well-insulated skylights can allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, reducing the need for artificial heating. They can also facilitate heat escape during the summer, mitigating overheating issues commonly associated with glazing.

Skylights as Ventilation

Ventilating skylights can enhance natural ventilation, effectively cooling the house in warmer seasons. Their ability to let hot air escape from the top of a room makes them a perfect fit for passive cooling strategies, as well as in bathrooms and kitchens where they can expel steam and odors.

Energy-saving Tips

But to maximize these energy benefits, there are several factors to consider. These include the skylight’s positioning, size, glazing type, shading devices, and whether it’s operable for ventilation. Furthermore, ensuring proper installation to minimize air leakage and adequate insulation to prevent heat loss in winter is crucial.

Skylights for Improved Health

The health benefits of natural sunlight are well documented, and skylights provide an excellent way to bring more of it into our homes and workplaces. They can significantly contribute to our physical and mental well-being.

Direct sunlight is a primary source of Vitamin D, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, boosting the immune system, and fighting off depression. Skylights allow for greater exposure to sunlight, thereby promoting better Vitamin D synthesis.

Improved Mood and Productivity

Beyond physical health, natural light significantly impacts our mood and mental health. It plays a crucial role in regulating circadian rhythms, which in turn affect our sleep patterns and general mood. Proper exposure to natural light can enhance productivity, improve mood, and reduce stress levels.

Sleep Cycle Regulation

Adequate exposure to daylight helps regulate our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, promoting better sleep quality. Skylights, particularly in bedrooms, can assist in creating a healthier sleep pattern by allowing morning light to act as a natural alarm, maintaining our internal biological clock.

Skylight Installation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

As beneficial as skylights can be, improper installation can lead to a range of problems. Here are some common mistakes made during skylight installation and how to avoid them.

Wrong Placement

Placing a skylight without considering the sun’s path can result in excessive glare or heat gain. To avoid this, conduct a thorough analysis of the sun’s movement relative to your home at different times of the year. The ideal placement will balance light and heat throughout the day.

Wrong Size

Choosing a skylight that’s too large for your space can overheat the room, while one that’s too small might not provide sufficient light. The size of your skylight should be in proportion to the room size. A good thumb-rule is to have your skylight size not exceed 5% of the room’s floor area when there are many windows and 15% when there are few windows.

Neglecting Local Weather Conditions

Overlooking local weather conditions can lead to a skylight that underperforms or is prone to damage. For instance, areas prone to hail storms might need stronger glazing materials. By understanding your local climate conditions and choosing a skylight designed to withstand them, you can save many future complications.

Custom-made Skylights

While ready-made skylights cater to standard needs, a custom-made skylight can be designed to meet specific design and performance requirements, thereby completely transforming your space.

Custom skylight designs range from flat or domed glass skylights, pyramid, ridge or lantern designs, to larger, more complex configurations. They can be made to match any form and size, offer a broad choice of glazing and frame options, and even incorporate high-tech features like self-tinting glass or motorized venting systems.

Benefits of Custom-made Skylights

Custom-made skylights give you the freedom to transform your space most optimally, letting you control the size, shape, color, and even the type of glass used. These personalized solutions can increase the efficiency of the skylight, enhance your home’s aesthetic appeal, and add value to your property.

Things to Consider for Custom Skylights

While budget is an important consideration, it’s also essential to think of the skylight’s functionality, the positioning to optimize natural light, choosing the right materials for your climate, coordination with the interior design, and ease of maintenance. Lastly, always ensure professional installation to avoid any structural issues or leaks down the line.

Skylight Accessories

The functionality and versatility of skylights can be greatly increased with the right accessories. Whether it’s improving energy efficiency, light control, or convenience, there are a variety of accessories to meet your specific needs.

Skylight Blinds

Skylight blinds provide an easy way to control the amount of sunlight entering your room, allowing for increased privacy and reduced glare. With designs ranging from blackout blinds for complete sunlight control, to light-filtering options that block harmful UV rays while still brightening your room, there’s a solution for every need.

Skylight Shades

Just like traditional window shades, skylight shades can be drawn or retracted to regulate the amount of light entering a room. They serve as an effective barrier against heat in summer and cold in winter, thus improving a home’s energy efficiency. Motorized versions can be remotely controlled for added convenience.

Automatic Skylight Openers

Automatic openers are perfect for vented skylights located in hard-to-reach places. With a simple touch of a button, or via a smartphone app, these openers let you control the ventilation, making it easy to manage airflow and maintain an ideal room temperature.

Making Skylights A Part of Green Home Solutions

With rising awareness about the importance of sustainable living, more homeowners are looking for green home solutions. Skylights are an excellent way to contribute to this goal.

Skylights are energy efficient – allowing abundant natural light to penetrate your home can drastically reduce dependence on artificial lighting. Furthermore, vented skylights can act as natural ventilators, reducing the need for air conditioners or fans. Some skylights also come with solar panels, directly contributing to renewable energy production.

By choosing Environmental and Sustainability Standards (ESS) compliant skylights, or those made from recyclable materials, you can decrease your carbon footprint while still taking advantage of the functional and aesthetic benefits they offer.

Skylights and Real Estate Value

A real estate property’s value is affected by numerous factors, and one of them is quality lighting. Natural lighting, especially from a well-designed skylight, can add tremendous aesthetic appeal and significantly increase a property’s market value.

Prospective buyers often look for homes with good natural lighting, and skylights offer an effective and stylish solution. Also, a skylight can make a room appear larger, adding an architectural element to the house which can fetch a higher selling price.

Aside from aesthetic appeal, skylights equipped with features like blinds, shades, and remote control operability can represent modern convenience and comfort to a potential buyer, thus positively affecting property value. But remember, for skylights to increase your home’s value, they need to be well-executed, professionally installed, and properly maintained.

Legal Considerations When Installing Skylights

Before installing skylights, it’s essential to understand the legal considerations that may come into play. These include abiding by local building codes and zoning laws, homeowners’ association rules, and obtaining needed permits.

Building regulations typically govern the size and positioning of skylights to prevent potential structural problems. They may also stipulate the use of specific safety glazing materials. It’s your responsibility as a homeowner to comply with these regulations to avoid legal issues down the line.

In certain areas, zoning laws can affect the placement of skylights to protect the visual integrity of the community and your neighbor’s right to light and privacy. Always contact your local zoning office or building department to avoid potential violations.

Permissions Required

Building permits are often required for skylight installations because they are considered structural changes. While the specifics may vary from place to place, your installer or local building department should be able to guide you through the process.

Pros and Cons of Installing Skylights

Skylights offer many advantages, from ushering in more natural light, enhancing your home’s aesthetics, to potentially increasing its resale value. But before you decide to install one, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros of Skylights

Some of the benefits of skylights include improved lighting and ventilation, energy efficiency, and increased indoor plant growth. Skylights can make a room appear larger and more inviting while reducing the reliance on artificial light.

Cons of Skylights

Despite the numerous benefits, skylights can also have downsides. These include potential leakage, increased sun exposure which can lead to fading furnishings or higher AC costs in hot climates, and the cost of installation and maintenance.

Purchasing a Skylight – What to Look For

When buying a skylight, you should take into consideration several factors to ensure it suits your needs and circumstances.


The materials used can affect a skylight’s durability, insulation, and overall performance. Choose between glass or plastic based on your preferred aesthetic, budget, and climate conditions. Additionally, consider frames made from sturdy, weather-resistant materials.

Brands and Reviews

Trusted brands usually offer better quality and customer service. Look for brands that have positive reviews, particularly regarding the product’s durability and the company’s responsiveness to customer concerns.

Price and Warranty Information

While the price is an important factor, remember that a higher-priced skylight often means better quality and features. Additionally, ensure to check the warranty, which can provide an indication of the product’s expected lifespan and can protect you in case of defects or problems.

Animated Infographics on Skylights

Visual communication in the form of animated infographics can be a valuable tool when it comes to understanding skylights. These graphics can present complex information in an easy-to-understand manner, providing a visual depiction of various aspects related to skylights. For instance, an animated infographic on skylights can visually instruct homeowners on designated placement, optimum sizes, or even the installation process, illustrating each step in a clear and simplified manner.

Furthermore, animated infographics about energy efficiency, detailing how skylights can aid in cutting down electricity usage by maximizing natural light, or explaining the advantages and drawbacks of different materials can serve as comprehensive educational tools for potential buyers.

FAQs About Skylights

Homeowners usually have several questions about skylights. Often, they query about the costs, energy efficiency, necessity of maintenance, type of skylight best suited for their home amongst others. Providing answers to these frequently asked questions (FAQs) can give homeowners an immediate understanding of what to expect from their skylight installation.

Other common questions include whether skylights can fade furniture, if opening skylights invite insects or if skylights increase the risk of a home invasion. A thorough and honest response to these concerns not only rewards homeowners with clarity, but also builds trust between the provider and the consumer.

Reader’s Experiences with Skylights

Anecdotes from homeowners who have installed skylights provide realistic insight into the whole process and possible benefits or challenges faced. Their first-hand experiences with different types of skylights, highlight nuances that catalogs and product descriptions don’t cover. This type of content is incredibly valuable for potential buyers and can sway their decision.

From success stories of homes transformed with enhanced natural light to challenges faced like leaks during heavy rain, readers’ experiences offer a rich tapestry of information and relatable content to potential or new skylight owners. Furthermore, shared solutions and creative ways to incorporate skylights into their home design can serve as inspiration for other homeowners.

Where to Buy Skylights

Purchasing skylights can be a simple task if buyers know the right places to look. There are numerous online vendors that offer a wide variety of skylights in different sizes, shapes, and materials. Sites like Amazon, Home Depot, and Lowe’s are among the more popular online destinations featuring portfolios of numerous reputable manufacturers.

Another option includes visiting brick-and-mortar stores where buyers can physically observe the products and check for quality assurance. Local home improvement stores, building material outlets, or specialty skylight companies usually have an array of skylights to choose from. Furthermore, localized stores provide the opportunity to connect with experts or sales associates, offering personalized service and immediate answers to any queries.

Recommending Reputable Manufacturers

When it comes to skylights, investing in good-quality products from reputable manufacturers can make all the difference. Brands such as VELUX, FAKRO, and Sunoptics have been trusted by consumers for years. These companies provide skylights with advanced features such as climate control, leak protection, or UV radiation filters. Hence, they’re typically the recommended choices for homeowners seeking long-lasting, quality products.

Providing Consultation About Skylights

Many homeowners will find that skylight installation is not a simple DIY project, and thus may require professional consultation. A competent consultant can provide valuable advice on choosing the right type of skylight that suits the architecture and interior décor of the house while also considering factors like cost, maintenance, energy efficiency, and local weather conditions.

A good skylight consultant also can advise homeowners on the ideal spot for the skylight placement, making sure it aligns with the sun path to maximize natural light and heat. Comprehensive guidance through the installation process can ensure that homeowners avoid common pitfalls, ensuring a smoother installation process.

Offering Maintenance Support

As part of the consulting service, it can be extremely beneficial to offer ongoing maintenance support. Skylight maintenance is often overlooked, but is crucial for the lifespan and functionality of the skylight. Regular checks and minor repair needs are all instances where professional guidance can come in handy. This service not only helps the homeowners but also strengthens the relations with the customer, making them more likely to return for future needs.


In summary, skylights are a wonderful addition to any home, offering numerous tangible and intangible benefits. From welcoming natural light to enhancing energy efficiency and adding aesthetic appeal, they serve multiple functions at once. Considering skylight installation requires thorough understanding, careful planning, and often, professional guidance.

As we get more engaged with sustainable and green solutions for our homes, skylights represent a step towards that goal. They not only introduce homeowners to the concept of utilizing natural resources, but also uplift the living experience by connecting the indoors with the natural world outside. Armed with the right information and reliable support, there is no doubt that more homes can enjoy the multitude of benefits that skylights provide.