Let the Light Shine In

Skylight in bright room

Whether you’re building a new home, or recently renovated your roof, perhaps it’s time to splurge on a skylight. Knowing what you want when choosing a skylight is important. Maybe you want natural sunlight streaming into the great room. (Your plants will adore you.) Or perhaps you’re toying with the idea of a small tubular skylight to brighten up the master walk-in closet or a windowless bathroom. Before you buy, consider the best placement to maximize light and solar heating efficiency. (And remember to look for Energy Star ratings when shopping around.)

Skylights placed on south-facing roofs bring the brightest possibility of constant solar heat in the winter, but also in the summer, when the house may heat up too much. Overhanging deciduous trees will help filter intense light, offsetting the effect to some degree. Want a mostly afternoon glow? Consider placing skylights on the west-facing part of your roof.

Tubular skylights, which produce less unwanted heat while shedding loads of light, offer another option. Sure, they are less aesthetically pleasing compared to large skylights, but tubular installations certainly light up a space.

Tubular skylight

Tubular skylights may not look as great from the outside, but they offer a ton of light and produce less heat indoors.

When sizing a skylight, consider the number of existing windows. Opt for smaller skylights when they share space with lots of windows. A Sunsational Skylight suggests a size that’s “about 5 percent of the total floor area.” In a 10-by-10-foot room, that’s 5 square feet. Opt for larger skylights, “up to 15 percent of total floor space,” when there are fewer windows.

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