What's New with Skylights?
Better glass means you now can use skylights with less energy waste
In recent years, skylights have gotten a bad rap because they can be leaky, both in terms of allowing in moisture and allowing out conditioned indoor air, not to mention possibly overheating the room the skylight is in. On the other hand, skylights bring in light and fresh air, and they can be dramatic focal points. The good news, according to contributing writer Scott Gibson, is that today’s skylights use better glass and accessories, which means fewer problems with energy, and also are equipped with better flashing systems, which means fewer problems with moisture leaks. It’s even possible to get natural light to a room 20 ft. or more from a roof via a tubular skylight. The glazing in skylights can be glass or plastic. While plastic costs less and can be manufactured in a variety of shapes, it’s not as scratch-resistant and can become brittle or discolored after prolonged exposure to sunlight. Glass skylights can come with energy-saving features, including low-e coatings and insulated multiple glazings. In terms of maximizing performance (which may mean minimizing solar-heat gain), it’s important to place the skylight appropriately on the roof, at the best installation angle for the house’s latitude. This article has sidebars covering several topics, including innovations in glazing and frame choices; finding the best skylight orientation; tubular skylights; and high-tech glass.