Aug 16

Ultimate Guide Skylights

SKYLIGHTS

The Ultimate Guide To Finding
& Installing The Skylights
For Your Home

There are now numerous types of skylights to choose from so whatever design or style of property you’re working with, you’ll find something to fit.

Once you’ve carefully considered the location and position of your building, the individual needs and budget that you have and the way in which you want to use your skylight to work for you, you can examine the range of options available to you.

CHAPTER i

What is a Skylight?

Also known as roof lights, skylights are generally moulded units made from acrylic with single glazed opal.

More premium models, such as Velux, use double glazed glass units.

Used in many homes and offices, skylights can be vented or non vented, fixed or openable and are available in a variety of shapes and designs.

The top glazing can be clear or tinted acrylic, polycarbonate or glass.

Did you know that skylights can let in up to 3 times more light than a traditional window? There are so many benefits to installing skylights wherever you are.

CHAPTER 2

Why Should You
Choose Skylights?

With continued research and development, skylights have gone from strength to strength in recent decades. There are now numerous options available so you’ll be able to find something to suit your property, budget and individual needs.

You may be a homeowner looking to flood your home with natural light or to simply be able to control the temperature as the seasons change. Perhaps you are a business owner who understands the importance of natural light on productivity and keep your office building fresh and mould free.

Here are just a sample of reasons why you should choose skylights in 2017:

Energy Saving

You really can see skylights as a natural alternative to using electric lighting. So much of the time, conventional windows require you to boost your home’s brightness with lamps or lights, which are expensive to use and often get left on by mistake. With skylights, you’re likely to see a fairly instant drop in your electricity bills, and you’ll also know that you’re having a positive impact on the environment.

Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Skylights should, and can be seen as a sustainable energy resource. Did you know that up to 40% of your heating energy can be leaked through windows? This means you’ll be using a lot more heating or air conditioning (powered by harmful fossil fuels) when you could have an efficient skylight securing the heat in or out of your home. Always ensure your skylights are expertly fitted to avoid draughts and gaps around them which let heat pass in and out.

Wellness & Productivity

There is extensive evidence regarding the benefits of natural light on both health and productivity. Natural sunlight provides Vitamin D all year round, and using a natural source of light rather than electric can often help to prevent eye strain.

Being exposed to natural light throughout the day also helps to ensure you get a good night’s sleep meaning office workers are far more likely to be productive than when working in spaces with solely artificial light.

If you’re keen to switch from your current light source to skylights, it’s good to know about the different types available. Do as much research as you can and always ask for expert help if you need when making your final decision.

CHAPTER 3

Velux Skylights

What are Velux Skylights

Skylights are structures that cover an opening in a roof or ceiling and help to provide additional daylight and/or ventilation. The skylight has glazed panels generally made from glass or polycarbonate with coatings or tints. One of the most famous makers of skylights in Australia is Velux.

Velux skylights are known across Australia and internationally as a top quality product. With over 30 years experience operating across Australia, the products are designed to withstand the harsh climates and intense sunlight often encountered across the continent. Velux Skylights cover a wide range of skylight options including:

  • Fixed Skylights
  • Non Opening Skylights
  • Manual Skylights
  • Top Hung Skylights
  • Solar/Electric Skylights
  • Flat Roof Skylights

How Do Velux Skylights Differ to other Skylights?

1. They key defining feature of Velux skylights is that they create a clear view to the sky and are essentially a window on the roof. They are a genuine showpiece in a home and can transform the look and feel of a living space.

2. Velux has been operating internationally for over 75 years offering products that are able to withstand some of the world’s harshest climates. Their products are ideally suited for Australia’s hot Summers and often extreme weather conditions and can help to keep heat in or out of your home depending on the needs.

3. The flexibility of Velux products means that you will always be able to find the right one to suit your needs – whatever the size, shape or space of your property.

4. Velux skylights are installed by experts who will be able to fit them wherever they need to go. From your initial decision to install Velux skylights, you’ll be able to speak with experts who can advise you which will best suit your needs. You’ll then be able to tailor the shape, size and design to suit your property and you’ll enjoy quick and easy installation with instant results.

CHAPTER 4

Sun Tunnels
& Tubular Skylights

What Are Sun Tunnels and Tubular Skylights?

If you’ve got rooms in your home which have always been that little bit too dark, or may even not have any windows at all, chances are you don’t spend much time in them and they often seem like wasted space.

Sun tunnels can work brilliantly in this type of situation. Sun tunnels are often referred to by different names including:

  • Sun pipes
  • Solar tubes
  • Light tunnels

Did you know that a solar light tunnel can often be less than 20% of the installed cost of a skylight? If you’re on a tight budget, these are an excellent option and with a single tunnel you can expect to illuminate an area of up to 35m2.

They can be installed on either a pitched roof or a flat roof extension. Sun tunnels work by allowing daylight to enter the room through a channel from the roof, into the room below. Sun tunnels can be wall mounted for outer rooms.

Similar models such as Tubular Skylights can help in a similar way – often credited with controlling the difficult aspects of sunlight such as glare and inconsistent light patterns. Some Tubular Skylight Systems can also screen infrared rays which easily overheat interiors causing damage alongside UV rays which can quickly cause soft furnishings and furniture to fade or stain.

Thinking of where to put your sun tunnel or tubular skylights? The best locations include:

  • North facing gardens
  • Pitched roofs
  • Entering into the centre of the interior room

How Do Sun Tunnels and Tubular Skylights Work?

Sun Tunnels can help brighten up dark and dingy rooms, transforming spaces by channelling light into your home. Ideal for spaces that either have no windows or minimal natural light access, sun tunnels and tubular skylights are well worth investigating.

First of all it’s important to understand the different types of sun tunnels available. The main choice you need to make is between whether you have a rigid sun tunnel or a flexible sun tunnel.

Rigid Sun Tunnels

These are generally thought to give better light transmittance therefore may mean the amount of light they allow in to the space could be significantly greater.

Rigid sun tunnels work by allowing light to channel down in one direct motion from the roof to the ceiling therefore less light is lost in the process of bouncing off internal surfaces.

Flexible Sun Tunnels

Many people prefer to use flexible sun tunnels due to the fact that they are a cheaper option. Although this is a good solution if the distance the light needs to travel is relatively short, you may want to discount this option if the length is longer than 2 metres or if the roof unit will be placed on a South facing roof.

The flexible tube means that you can easily place it around any obstructions in the roof space which you are unable to reposition. However it’s important to note that directly because of its flexible nature, light will reflect less in a flexible sun tunnel meaning that the overall light to reach the room will be lower.

CHAPTER 5

Roof Windows

Another product from Velux’s extensive range of high design and high quality range, roof windows are an excellent option for many homes and offices. Although roof windows are often confused with skylights (another great natural lighting source), there are some subtle ways in which they differ.

What Are Roof Windows?

Roof windows are generally incorporated into the design of the roof and can provide a plentiful supply of natural light to your home or office. They are outward opening windows which are usually installed in the same orientation and in plane with the surrounding roof. They are specifically designed for ‘within reach’ situations such as loft conversions.

Popular throughout Australia, roof windows are great value for money and can be bought off the shelf to fit brilliantly and sit flush with the plane of the roof. The clean lines are a large part of their appeal to many home and property owners.

There are some properties where roof windows may not work as well and in these instances, rooflights and skylights can offer a wider range of shapes, sizes and functionality.

How Do Roof Windows Work?

Roof windows are outward opening windows which are usually installed in the same orientation and in plane with the surrounding roof.

To weather a roof window into a roof, skirt or flashing is used. Generally, roof windows come in standardized sizes and are often slightly smaller than ‘rooflights’.

Roof windows designed and manufactured by high quality companies such as Velux are put through extensive testing to ensure their effectiveness and long term durability. Tests seek to simulate prolonged and heavy rainfall, changes in air pressure and intense sunlight. It’s essential that roof windows do not allow any air leakage so the product can help to create an energy efficient home where drafts and/or moisture are limited as much as possible.

CHAPTER 6

How Much Does it Cost?

As we’ve seen, there are a huge variety of options when it comes to choosing the right skylight for your home or business. The costs of these can also vary hugely and depend on a variety of factors including:

  • Type of skylight chosen
  • Materials Used
  • Installation Location
  • Design Criteria

In order to get an approximate idea of how much installing skylights in your home or property could cost, you should start to think about which type of skylights you want. It’s really worth using a high quality supplier such as Velux to ensure the longevity of your skylights and remember you only want the best for your home!

Costs of Purchasing Skylights

Many skylights can be bought off the shelf and depending on your roof size and orientation, this may be a good cost effective option.

A good quality tubular skylight can cost anywhere between $300 – $600. Always check that the flashing kit is included with this.

You need to remember that if you are going for an option which is more flexible and must be fitted to your specific home, costs may rise and will be dependent on materials and labour.

For venting tubular skylights you are usually looking at around $300-$600 whereas if you decide to go for an electronically controlled window type skylight, you may expect to pay up to $2,600. You can add on extras such as timers and rain sensors which can also increase the cost.

Think about whether you want to have blinds on your skylight. These can be great for blocking light when you’re sleeping or to protect soft furnishings from sun damage. Expect to pay around $400-$500 extra for blinds.

Costs of Installing Skylights

Often installation costs can creep up very quickly. This is generally between $400 – $2000 and will depend on the amount of skylights installed, the type of skylights you choose and the individual experts you employ to do the job.

CHAPTER 7

Installation

Many people see the option of installing a skylight themselves as a cost efficient way to save money. However think very carefully before you do so. If you install a skylight incorrectly, you could leave your home exposed to draughts, moisture and extreme weather conditions. Often hiring an expert to do the job could have larger upfront costs but will pay its way in the long term.

How Long Does it Take to Install?

Bear in mind that when you install a skylight you need to make sure that all the foundations around it (the roof) are fully prepared and secure. Take your time over this if you’re doing it yourself.

It’s important to realise that installing skylights has no set time frame. The length of time required for the job can vary depending on a variety of factors including:

  • Material of the roof
  • Number of skylights
  • Type of skylights
  • Roof slope

Generally, you should set aside anything from a full morning or afternoon, to a few days for skylight installation. Consider the weather when choosing when to do it yourself or hire in your expert as you’ll want to avoid patches of heavy rain or wind.

What Happens on the Day of Installation?

The installation process will begin by reassessing that the roof area is completely safe and the skylight positioning is correct.

A potential installation could go as follows:

  1. Cut a hole in the roof
  2. Alter the rafter framing
  3. Install the skylight
  4. Flash the skylight
  5. Build a chase from the skylight to interior ceiling

This is the core of the installation process however you should also remember that you may need to repaint the ceiling beneath where the skylight has been fitted.

If you have opted for automatic vents or other additional technology with your skylight, you should also allow time for the installer to install inside your home with access to power sockets and electricity.

Although there have been major advances in the installation process, always allow a little more time if you have either a very flat or a very steep roof as these can sometimes be more problematic.

CHAPTER 8

Maintenance of Skylights

Of course when you install skylights, you want them to last as long as possible. The costs of purchasing them, changing the design of your home and installing them either yourself or with expert help can add up. Luckily, most skylights last around 20 years.

There are many factors which will affect the lifespan of your skylight – some of them you can’t do a huge amount about (such as weather conditions) but others you can certainly take control of.

  • Material of the skylight – acrylic skylights usually last between 15-20 years with other skylights lasting slightly longer
  • Quality of the skylight and Installation – this can be a huge factor and high quality products fitted well generally tend to be the most durable
  • Cleanliness of the skylight – always keep it free from leaves, animal droppings, salt.
  • Regular Checks to identify small cracks or damage before it escalates
  • Quality of the roof – this will affect the seal of skylights and how effectively they work.

How To Take Care Of Skylights

If you’ve taken the decision to install skylights in your home, you clearly care about aesthetics and design. To keep your skylights working effectively and efficiently, there are a number of steps you can do to help maintain them.

  • Cleaning: a regular cleaning schedule should be created of the external roof and visible interior surfaces. This is especially important if you live close to the sea (salt damage), in an urban area (exposed to pollution) or amongst a large number of trees (falling leaves). Never leave it more than 6 months without cleaning exterior sky lights.
  • If you have chosen operable or ventilating skylights, the hinges and any moving hardware may require lubrication to keep them from becoming stiff or dysfunctional.
  • After any period of intense weather (rain, wind, heat), always check your skylights for any damage. This helps to identify any issues before they worsen. Leaf debris is often ignored but can cause corrosion and lead to roof damage.
  • Know the materials used in your skylight – generally these will be polycarbonate, glass, aluminium and steel. Get an understanding of what these materials require and how regularly they need to be cleaned or updated.

CHAPTER 9

Warranty on Skylights

High quality skylights from trusted brands such as Velux should come with a warranty to ensure products are guaranteed to serve you in the way you need.

As a guide, all Velux skylights and flashings come with a 10 year warranty. In addition, their sun tunnels have a 7 year warranty and blinds, electrical components and additional accessories are covered under a 3 year warranty.

It’s really important to check the warranty offered on any skylights which you are considering purchasing. Although you hope that things will go smoothly, it’s worth knowing that you’ll be covered if anything goes wrong with the product in the years proceeding the purchase.

CHAPTER 10

The Best Skylights to
Suit Your Home

When choosing a skylight there are many different options available to you. It’s best to think about your individual circumstances and what factors will help you to make a choice that works well for you. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when figuring out the best skylight to suit your home:

What does my home need?

Think about whether you want to flood light into your living space, or simply brighten up a disused room. You’ll want to consider the best options for you dependent on the functionality and aesthetics of the space. Some skylights are never opened and purely allow light to come in whereas others will be a key element of home ventilation.

Skylights come in all shapes, sizes and prices

Skylights come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Whether you want to invest in high quality skylights from a company such as Velux, or you are going to install off the shelf skylights yourself, you should set aside an appropriate budget to ensure you can complete the installation efficiently. Always consider labour in your budget if you are employing people to install it.

What’s the style of your home?

Different skylights suit different homes. Perhaps you have a very minimalist style and want to use as much metal and glass as possible. If you’re keen to keep things more traditional, think about using more wood and manually operated skylights. Automatic opening windows may work well with more hi tech homes and you should also factor this in to your decision.

What type of glass do you want?

Choosing your glazing option is important in your decision as to which skylight will best suit your home. If you live on a busy street, you may want to block out the noise of traffic or pedestrians. Most skylight companies offer double and triple glazing options – many of which can offer 99% protection from UV rays. When choosing the type of glass you want, consider where your skylights will be located and the weather conditions which they will endure.

What type of frames do you want?

It’s not just about the glass. You also need to think about what will surround your skylight. Frames should always complement the style of your property and can vary from traditional wood (which can be painted in any colour required) to aluminium. Many homes which have a minimalist design even have frameless skylights – another option to consider!

Blinds or No Blinds?

Once you’ve got the skylight option to suit you, think about whether you want to add blinds or not. There are a number of options from black out blinds (to help you sleep in total darkness) to honeycomb blinds which help protect from heat and glare.

CHAPTER 11

Statistics: How Skylights Help Save Energy in Australian Homes & Offices

Did you know that a well designed skylight that has been fitted to your home can help to keep it cool in hot Summer months and warm in Winter months? Just think about all the extra dollars you could save by turning down your heating or switching off your air conditioning.

Here are some more statistics to show you just how significant skylights can be in helping to save energy in Australian homes and offices:

CHAPTER 12

Energy Efficiency Centre
Top FAQs

Why is roof pitch important in skylight installations?

When it rains you want the water to drain effectively off your roof. The same with skylights. If your roof has the correct slope water will run away off the skylight and the flashing surrounds. However, if your roof pitch is less than 15 degrees, we will need to add a custom made flashing to ensure there are no leaks with the install.

Are insect screens available for electric skylights?

Insect screen are available with all openable skylights.

What colour blinds can I get?

Velux skylights only come with white blinds.

Does the electric skylight have a rain sensor?

There is a rain sensor that is fitted as standard to the Velux skylights. You won’t need to be home to activate it. The window will close automatically once it starts raining.

Can I apply a film or tint to the glass of a skylight?

Velux skylights are very energy efficient. They are manufactured with low emissivity, double glazed glass which has an Argon gas cavity. It is not recommend to add window tint to the glass as it will void the warranty. Blinds are also available to to help control the heat and light.

How far do manual skylights open?

Skylights open to approximately 300mm.

Can I convert my manual skylight to an electric one?

Yes conversion kits are available. Just let us know which model you have installed.

Can I convert my fixed skylight to an opening one?

Unfortunately, you cannot convert a fixed skylight to an opening one.