Saving Money and Energy with Flat Roof Skylights

Last Updated on: 9th April 2023, 04:38 am

Flat roof skylights are a popular choice for homeowners and commercial property owners for many good reasons. They offer natural light and aesthetic appeal while saving money and energy in the long run. In this article, we will explore the individual styles of flat roof skylights, their benefits, and potential risks.

Skylight glazing

Skylight glazing is the material used to cover the opening of the skylight. It can be made of either plastic or glass, but there are other options available for solar heat control. The choice of glazing depends on the performance you expect from the skylight and its location within your home.

Plastic glazing is typically less expensive than glass and less prone to breakage. However, plastic surfaces are easily scratched and may become brittle and discolored over time. Most plastics also allow UV rays to pass through, which can cause fading damage to furnishings, unless the glazing is coated with a special film. Acrylics and polycarbonates are the most commonly used plastic glazing materials. Acrylics are weaker but less expensive than polycarbonates. While polycarbonates offer high impact resistance, they may yellow with age.

Glass is a more expensive option for skylight glazing but is more durable and does not discolor. Glass used for skylights must be “safety glazing,” which refers to both tempered and laminated glass that prevents the glass from breaking into large, sharp pieces.

Borrowing natural light

Styles of Flat Roof Skylights

Skylights come in various shapes and sizes, including rectangular, circular, oval, diamond, triangular, multi-sided, and tubular. Non-rectangular units typically use plastic glazing, while higher quality ones use glass. The glazing can be flat, arched, domed, pyramidal, or “warped plane.” Pyramidal, arched, and domed shapes allow light to enter from more extreme angles than flat or warped plane units, providing more flexibility for positioning.

Tubular Skylights

Tubular skylights, also known as sun tubes or solar tubes, are a popular style of flat roof skylights. They are small, compact, and affordable, making them an ideal choice for smaller rooms or areas where space is limited. Tubular skylights consist of a dome that sits on the roof, a reflective tube that runs fro mthe dome to the ceiling, and a diffuser that spreads the light evenly throughout the room. The reflective tube captures and amplifies natural light from the roof, creating a bright and cheerful atmosphere indoors. Tubular skylights are energy-efficient and can help reduce your reliance on artificial lighting, resulting in lower energy bills.

Sun tubes

Pyramid Skylights

Pyramid skylights have a unique and stylish look that can add character to any roof. They are made up of a series of panels angled in a pyramid shape, allowing natural light to enter the room from above. Pyramid skylights are ideal for larger rooms or areas where a lot of natural light is needed. They offer a generous amount of natural light and can make the room feel more spacious and open. Moreover, pyramid skylights can add visual interest to your roof and increase its curb appeal.

Flat Glass Skylights

Flat glass skylights are a classic and elegant style of flat roof skylights. They are made up of a larg epiece of glass that sits flush with the roof, alowing natural light to flood into the room below. Flat glass skylights are perfect for those who want to bring a lot of natural light into their home or building. They can help reduce the need for artificial lighting, resulting in lower energy bills. Also, flat glass skylights are ideal for areas where a more modern look is desired. They can add a sleek and contemporary touch to your roof.

Sloping Skylights

Sloping skylights are another popular style of flat roof skylights. They are made up of a series of sloping panels that are angled towards the center of the room, allowing natural light to enter from above. Sloping skylights are ideal for areas where a lot of natural light is needed. They offer a generous amount of natural light and can make the room feel brighterand more spacious. Also, sloping skylights are a great choice for those who want to add a touch of style to their roof. They can create an eye-catching feature that enhances the overall look of your roof.

Benefits of the skylights on flat roofs

Increased Natural Light

Flat roof skylights are a great way to bring in natural light toyour home or building. By installing skylights, you can significantly reduce your dependence on artificial lighting, which can help to reduce your energy bills and your carbon footprint. Furthermore, natural light has been shown to have numerous benefits, including improving mood, increasing productivity, and aiding in regulating sleep patterns.

A study conducted by the California Energy Commission revealed that installing skylights can reduce lighting energy consumptionby up to 84% in comercial buildings and up to 35% in residential buildings. This means that skylights not only have a positive impact on the environment but can also save homeowners and business owners money in the long run.

Improved Energy Efficiency

In addition to providing natural light, flat roof skylights can also help to improve the energy efficiency of a building. By using natural light instead of artificial light, you can reduce your energy consumption and lower your carbon footprint. Moreover, skylights can also help to regulate the temperature in a room, reducing the need for heating and cooling systems.

The California Energy Commission study also found that skylights can reduce cooling energy consumption by up to 72% in commercial buildings and up to 30% in residential buildings. This is because skylights can provide natural ventilation and help to reduce heat gain in a building, which can result in lower energy bills and improved energy efficiency.

Improved Ventilation

Flat roof skylights can also help with ventilation by allowing fresh air to enter your space. This is especially crucial in areas where air conditioning and heating are constantly in use, asit can h elp improve indoor air quality. By having skylights that can be opened, hot air can escape, and cool air can be brought in, improving the overall air circulation in your home or building.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Flat roof skylights are a great way to add style and design to your space. They can be designed in a varitey of shapes and sizes to fit the unique architectural design of your property. Skylights can be instaled to create a dramatic effect, such as a large, rectangular skylight in a living room, or to add a touch of elegance to a space, such as a small circular skylight in a bathroom.

Increased Home Value

Installing flat roof skylights can also increase the value of your home. They are a stylish and modern feature that can make your home more attractive to potential buyers. Skylights also have a positive impact on the aesthetic appeal of a home, making it more visually appealing and desirable.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, skylights were ranked as the second most desirable feature in a home, atfer energy-efficient appliances. This indicates that skylights can be a valuable addition to a home, not only for the practical benefits they provide but also for the increased resale value they can generate.

Skylight leaking explained


Proper installation is crucial to achieving optimal energy performance from skylights. It is best to have a professional install the skylight, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Slope and moisture control are critical considerations during installation. The skylight shaft must be insulated and air-sealed in the attic to prevent energy loss.

The slope or tilt of the skylight affects solar heat gain, with a low slope admitting more solar heat in the summer and less in the winter. For optimal solar heat gain in the winter and minimal gain in the summer, a slope equal to your geographical latitude plus 5 to 15 degrees is recommended.

Let me also present findings from a study on the effectiveness of skylights as a daylight delivery system in different climates. The study found that the utility rate structure has a significant impact on which daylight delivery system saves the most money in each city. The most important findings of the study include:

  • The highest cost savings can be achieved by using south facing skylights for daylight delivery in cold, cool, dry, or mixed climates, while the greatest energy cost savings come from minimizing the glazing and solar heat gain in warm or hot climates.
  • The colder the climate, the higher the annual kBtu savings. This is due to the high kBtu value of natural gas, and a result of the positive solar heat gain. kBtu, or kilo British Thermal Units, is a unit of measurement for energy. It is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
  • The models with the highest potential annual kBtu savings occurred primarily when the southern exposure was maximized, especially in Minnesota.
  • Denver has its highest savings when maximizing the south-facing skylights and minimizing west facing glazing.
  • All runs that have more windows on the north and south facades performed better than every paired run with windows distributed equally on all facades.

Overall, the study emphasizes that the effectiveness of skylights as a daylight delivery system depends on various factors such as climate, utility rate structure, and skylight orientation, and each project should consider these factors to determine the optimal solution.

Risks and hazards associated with flat roof skylights

Flat roof skylights can be a great addition to any home, but before deciding toinstall them, homeowners should be aware of the risks and hazards associated with them. By taking necessary precautions, homeowners can avoid potential problems and enjoy the benefits of natural light and ventilation.

One of the biggest conc erns when it comes to flat roof skylights is the potential for leaks. Flat roofs are more prone to leaks tha npitched roofs due to their design, and skylights can create weak spots that can allow water to seep in. To avoid this problem, it is crucial to choose a high-standard skylight that is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions and have it installed by an experienced professional. A reputable skylight instaler will ensure that the skylight is properly installed and waterproofed, minimizing the risk of leaks.

Another risk associated with flat roof skylights is the potential for falling through them. Skylights can be dangerous if they are not installed correctly or if they are not maintained regularly. It is essential to have your skylight inspected regularly by a professional to ensure that it is secure and in good condition. Regular inspections can help identify any isues before they become a safety hazard.

Furthermore, flat roof skylights can create glare that can be irritating and harmful to your eyes. To prevent this problem, homeowners should choose a skylight that has a low-E coating. This coating reduces the amount of glare that enters the home while still allowing natural light to flow through.

In conclusion, homeowners should be aware of the risks and hazards associated with flat roof skylights before installing them. By taking necessary precautions, such as having the skylight installed by an experienced professional and choosing a high-grade skylight, homeowners can enjoy the benefits of natural light and ventilation without any of the risks.

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