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Thinking of getting Roof skylights? Here's what you should consider

Advantages and disadvantages of skylights

Skylights are quite a popular when looking to add some more natural light in your homes as they allow sunlight to enter living spaces directly. However, like any home design element, skylights have their pros and cons. On one hand, they enhance the appearance of a home, bringing in natural light and adding a unique, stylish touch. On the other hand, skylights can cause roof damage and affect the overall space or building. It’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages before deciding to install a skylight in your home.

Here are the pros

1. Natural light in a darker room

Skylights are a great solution for rooms without natural light, especially on the top floor with limited or no windows. They brighten up spaces, especially during the winter when daylight is scarce, improving the overall atmosphere. Skylights are perfect for areas like bathrooms or hallways, transforming them while enhancing the ambiance. Studies show that natural light can increase productivity, making skylights especially useful for home offices, reducing the need for artificial lighting.

2. Aesthetically Pleasing

Skylights have the ability to completely change the atmosphere of a room. They were traditionally used in areas with little natural light, like staircases, but now they are being used as central features to create dramatic lighting and a sense of upward movement. Skylights come in various designs that take into account factors like location, size, and angle to optimize sunlight without causing overheating.


3. Opens up a space

Skylights have the unique ability to expand a room by being placed within the roof. Unlike standard windows or doors, skylights are often overlooked despite their exposure to sunlight. They are especially beneficial for those with limited space, as they can make a room appear larger and brighter. For instance, a bathroom can be transformed into a personal oasis by incorporating skylights and creating an outdoor/indoor living atmosphere.


4. Fresh Air

Venting skylights are a practical solution for improving air circulation in rooms which might not have other windows which is especially beneficial in areas like the bathroom or kitchen where odors need to be quickly eliminated. Opting for a skylight that can be opened significantly increases the amount of airflow, preventing the room from becoming too hot and refreshing the atmosphere.

5. Energy Savings

Skylights provide a two-fold benefit by using natural light to decrease the need for artificial lighting and electricity. This reduces energy consumption and significantly lowers electricity bills. In winter, skylights act as effective insulators, bringing sunlight into rooms and providing warmth, reducing the need for heating. Embracing skylights not only brightens your space but also reduces your environmental impact. By relying less on electric lights and heating, you contribute to a smaller carbon footprint, benefiting both your wallet and the planet.


6. Increase the value of the home

Skylights often go unnoticed for the value they bring to a home, overshadowed by initial costs. However, viewing skylights as an investment pays off in the long run in terms of your property’s value. Their uniqueness makes them sought-after features, serving as strong selling points in the real estate market. For potential buyers, the convenience of having skylights already installed becomes a major attraction, especially for those looking to avoid the stress of construction while living in the house. Thus, skylights not only brighten your home but also add enduring value and convenience for future homeowners.

Here are the cons

1. Over lighting and overheating

We can’t control the weather, although we wish we could, which means that in hotter months rooms with skylights can overheat. This excessive sunlight can harm your space, so careful consideration of placement, size, and direction is crucial. Solutions like solar control and integrated blinds aid in climate control, preventing discomfort. Striking a balance between skylight aspects and usability is key to enjoying the benefits.


2. Heat loss


Yes, we know we already mentioned that skylights do increase the heat in a room. However, in the winter they can also let heat out. Skylights can cause heat loss when they allow warmth to escape from a room, especially in winter. Glass, which is a good conductor of heat, enables heat to enter and exit a space. However, certain skylights have double-glazed glass and insulating plastic warm edge spacers that act as barriers against heat loss. This type of glass greatly reduces heat loss, ensuring that your space stays warm and comfortable during colder months.


3. Cleaning

Cleaning skylights can be difficult due to their location on the roof, and it can be dangerous to clean skylights in tricky spots. However, you can always opt for self-cleaning glass which can make the process easier. When deciding where to install your skylights, you should consider strategic placement to reduce the need for frequent cleanings. Careful installation in areas with minimal debris can also make maintenance more manageable.

4. Roof leaks

Proper installation of skylights is essential to ensure a well-insulated and leak-free roof, especially in Cape Town’s unpredictable weather conditions. High-quality skylights with a watertight curb, appropriate flashing, sealed joints, and waterproofing sheets under the finish material, are crucial to withstand all weather conditions. Even if a skylight is well-insulated, issues with sealing the shaft and incorrect installation can lead to moisture problems and leaks. These seemingly small leaks can spread to other dry parts of the roof, escalating into more complicated issues if not addressed promptly.

5. The expense

Let’s not ignore the biggest reason why homeowners don’t consider skylights: the initial expense. Compared to standard windows, skylights are more expensive to purchase and install. However, skylights can be seen as investments in your home. They may require higher upfront costs and ongoing maintenance, but modern technology improves their quality, enhances insulation, and helps you save money in the long run when it comes to energy savings and your property value.

6. Possible Roof and Interior damage

Installing skylights can potentially damage your roof and interior due to the reconstruction process, so it’s important to assess your roof against building regulations before installing a skylight. Furniture damage can also be caused by excessive sun exposure which is often overlooked, but modern skylights with Low-E coatings and solar control glass can help reduce this risk.

7. Installation Issues

Even if a skylight is insulated, there are frequently problems with sealing the shaft properly and making sure that it’s properly installed, leading to moisture problems and leaks that can not only drip into spaces below, but also spread leaks to other parts of the roof that were previously dry. What might have seemed like a minor leak could eventually lead to a much larger, complex issue. Therefore, it is really important to choose a reputable company for installation in order to significantly decrease the likelihood of problems, especially for large skylights as structural modifications may be necessary.

Conclusion

Skylights can greatly improve a room’s design and bring in natural light when placed carefully, with appropriate glazing and installation. Even with small flaws, they can still be a valuable addition to a space. So, are skylights worth it? We would say yes, but only if installed and maintained correctly.

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