Almost anyone who lives indoors wants a bit of the outdoors in their living space, namely the light that comes from the sun and can brighten up even our darkest corners. People always have the same reaction when entering a home that has abundant natural light: “Ahhhh.” If you want that effect on people, than be sure to design your lighting to include abundant entryways for natural light, either from the side (windows) or from above (skylights). With advances in technology and cost reduction in many facets of the industry, what many people don’t realize is that the powerful effect of skylights can be possible for multiple rooms of your house. Here are several considerations to take into account as you consider skylights for your home:
Shape Your Skylight
Options abound for shaping the light that will stream through a skylight opening. It can be diffused through usage of any number of materials such as frosted glass and translucent acrylics. It can be tinted if you desire that effect (can become gloomy, but might be just what you want in a given room). It can be fritted when lines are etched in the glass or plastic to change the angle of the incoming light for pleasing effects. It can be shielded or bounced depending on the structure that you install in conjunction with your skylight.
Picture 1: Skylights
Seek A Balance Between Natural and Artificial Light
Obviously, the sun does not come out every day. In some parts of the world, it comes out quite rarely; in others it shines almost every day. Wherever you live and whatever climate you are surrounded by, you will need to coordinate your daylight with electrical lighting. This can be quite a challenge. What you are aiming for is a harmony of intensity, shape and color. To achieve matching intensity, you will probably need to take advantage of the latest technological advances that are available, such as photocells and dimmers. It is entirely possible for your electrical light to work in concert with daylight. Color is another matter – daylight has a way of revealing just how unnatural the colors of our artificial light are. You will not be able to match daylight’s color with any artificial lighting, just do the best you can and be aware of this problem so that you are not surprised. The shape of both daylight and artificial light can be controlled, although daylight tends to be thrown in planes rather than targeted areas. Designs can be constructed to channel it more like artificial light if you choose to do that.
Don’t Forget the Heat
Don’t forget that natural light has a byproduct that your artificial light does not: high heat. You need to formulate a strategy to control this through diffusion, filtering or blockage of some of the light. You want the heat to remain in your oven, not in your dining room!
Plan Around the Glare
Sunlight can also cause tremendous glare in your living space. That might not be a problem if you are not going to be needing task light in that space at high noon, but it might create an unpleasant effect no matter how much you appreciate the sun. Be sure to plan around this effect through design that diffuses the light.
Picture 2: Large modern skylight
The Fade That Sunlight Produces
Sunlight, even when filtered by tinting, causes damage to dyes, inks and pigments. If you do filter the light, the effect of this ultra violet radiation can be slowed down tremendously, but it is not eliminated completely. Before you plan on having sunlight cast directly on your expensive couch, remember that certain sections of it might become a couple of shades lighter over time. Plan ahead and beware of this damaging effect of sunlight.
Skylight Options Are Limited
Designers are still behind in figuring out how to best use skylights in various parts of your home. You will not have all of the options that you do with artificial light, obviously, so you will need to keep your eyes open for applications that you like and sketch them for use in your own home. Hopefully, great strides will be made in this area in coming years as daylight is more appreciated for its energy-efficient usage.
Daylight can dramatically illuminate your home, and in more areas than your entrance or sunroom. With a few design alterations, you can install skylights throughout your home and create an amazing effect. Despite its dangers, daylight can be controlled and used well to light your home. The variations of skylights grow by the day and have been successfully installed in many areas of people’s homes. Let the sun shine in!