Monday, 30 May 2011

Skylights - To Add Natural Light or not to Add Natural Light?

So you have a dark room or area of your home where you spend most of the day either with the lights on, or trying to make do with what little light you are getting.

Most of us have an area like that. Mine is the bathroom. I spent years trying to put my make up on with just a single 60 watt light bulb on.

So what are the options?
  • You could install more electric lights or add some down lights for specific task areas (such as the bathroom mirror or kitchen bench). But this requires hiring an electrician, adding more cables, not to mention the guilt of increasing an ever expanding power bill even further.
  • You could add a floor lamp, desk lamp or temporary electric lighting solution of some kind. But they tend to get in the way and take up space, whilst also drawing more power.
  • You could add a skylight - Wait a skylight? Aren't they hideously expensive and require loads of building work?
Well that really depends on the type of skylight you get. Roof Windows obviously need to be placed in rooms that have direct access to the roof line. They look great, but the installation & restructuring costs can really add up. 

An alternative type of skylight is called a Tubular Skylight or Daylighting Device. These systems channel light down from a roof top dome, through a reflective tube and  into your room via a ceiling fitting that looks just like a flush electric light fitting.

The advantage of these types of systems is that they can be installed by qualified installers or expert DIYers in around 2-4hrs with no building or restructuring work. Also, depending on the quality of the tubing material, they can travel metres in your roof space without any light loss to provide natural light to rooms away from the roof line and even on lower building levels.

There are a lot of different makes and models of tubular skylights on the market these days. So here are a few questions to be sure to ask before you go parting with any hard earned cash:

  • Has the product has been awarded an 'Energy Star' for it's energy efficiency?
  • How reflective is the material used in the tubing, since the more reflective it is the more light you'll get into your room?  
  • How does the dome capture light throughout the day from dawn to dusk? Or will it just capture light during the main daylight hours?
  • Does the product have a roof flashing that has been designed specifically to fit onto your specific roofing material? i.e. Colourbond, Concrete Tile, Terracota Tile etc - A better fitted flashing will ensure against leak problems in the future
  • What kind of Warranty is provided with the product?
  • What kind of Warranty is provided on the installation?
  • What kind of ceiling diffusers are offered with the product & do they have an option to suit your rooms decor?

The 'Energy Star' bit is important since adding more sunlight into a room on summer days can add a great deal more heat if the product hasn't been developed & tested to avoid this. You can also risk loosing heat out of the system during the winter, so it's definitely worth asking the question before you buy.

If this type of product sounds like it may solve some lighting issues in your home, why not contact us to find out a bit more? We can come out to your home at a time that suits you & provide you with a no obligation quote for you to ponder over. You never know, you and your home could be bathing in glorious natural light in just a few days! Problem solved.

Got any questions? Fire away.

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