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Dyer Skylights

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New Vulex TLR Sun Tunnel Tubular Skylight

This is the New Velux TLR Sun Tunnel Tubular Skylight. It is the first design of its kind, which has a flat-glass presentation on the roof rather than the usual dome style. It was created because of the concerns of condominium associations, covenanted neighborhoods, designers, architects and discriminating homeowners who prefer the flatter formal skylight appearance over the protruding dome.

Clipboard02New Skylights – Spring Blvd. Project

These four skylights and the two across the room are from an exciting project we did recently in a home off of Spring Blvd. The front of the home faced east and though it had a good proportion of windows was, because of the volume of space involved, perpetually dark and thus unusable. This affected the entryway, living room, dining room, and the stairway and landing to the second floor. With the addition of the skylights this 950 square feet of living space became usable and functional in a much more dynamic way. It was also technically challenging and enjoyable for us to accomplish.

dyer_skylightsWhy Skylights?

I’ve been installing and repairing skylights for over 20 years now. My experience is that people love the daylight that skylights bring in their homes, and that the daylight dramatically improves the experience of living and working in their home or office.

There is now a vast amount of research that documents why this effect takes place. The research was done in two primary settings: elementary schools and retail stores. There are some very interesting statistics:

Moving children from classrooms with total artificial light to ones with full daylight resulted in the following improvements:

  • 20% faster learning rate in math.
  • 26% faster learning rate in reading.
  • 15%-23% faster rate of improvement.
  • 2.6% less cavities.
  • Lower cortisol levels (stress hormone).
  • Higher bone density.
  • Higher height and weight gain.

Problem reduction in school children:

  • Visual: 65%
  • Nutritional problems: 48%
  • Chronic infections: 43%
  • Postural problems: 26%
  • Chronic fatigue: 56%

In the retail setting Walmart stores have compiled the most revealing data with every cash register connected directly to corporate headquarters: on average a not day lit store would experience 40% higher sales after the addition of skylights.

Why is this? Full-spectrum light energy travels through the eye and feeds the hypothalamus, pituitary, and pineal glands, which along with the endocrine system dramatically affect our health and well-being.  People just know that they like daylight in their homes, which is what I do.

img-skylightHere Comes The Sun, With A Little Help

If you’ve shied away from skylights in the past for fear of leaks, fogging or faded carpet, it may be time to come out of the dark and revisit this inexpensive home-improvement idea. Today’s skylights and solar tubes not only have moved past their problems, they have new features that make them more convenient and energy efficient.“ We’ve had no complaints about the skylights we’ve sold in recent years, except an occasional missing part,” says Chris Skelton of Jerry’s Home Improvement Center. “Skylights have improved greatly,” adds Stephen Dyer, a Eugene-based skylight installation specialist. “They no longer have problems with leaks or fogging, and they filter almost all the ultraviolet light, so bleaching and fading isn’t an issue anymore.” The greatest improvement is the flashing, or metal strips layered into the roofing during installation to direct water away from the skylight. “They now make flashing systems for every kind of roof,” Dyer says. Flashing kits typically are sold separately from the skylight, so it’s important to inquire about them and spend the additional money. When properly installed, flashing, along with the new raised curb designs, will make your daylight fixture leak proof. Another improvement is the low-E coating and Argon gas that make the double-paned glass energy efficient. In addition, skylight manufacturers now offer many accessories, such as remote-controlled ventilation, various glazing options, insect screens, and shades to block the sun when you want the room to be dark. With the improved designs and features, the biggest question left is whether to install a skylight or a solar tube in a space that begs for more light.

The scoop on skylights

To brighten a formal space such as a living or dining room, skylights usually are a better option than a solar tube. “A skylight gives you sky and space and lifts the claustrophobia,” Dyer says. A no-frills, 2-foot-by-4-foot skylight costs around $160, plus the $55 flashing kit. The same size fixture with a feature that allows the glass to be opened for ventilation is priced around $370, plus flashing. For homes without air conditioning, the extra ventilation can be a nice bonus and offset the additional heat delivered by the sunlight; however, many homeowners report rarely or never opening the venting feature after paying extra for it. Experts typically recommend installing skylights that fit between roof rafters, even if it means adding several fixtures to achieve the desired lighting level. Flat and domed options are available, with domed skylights often preferred by homeowners whose roofs tend to collect leaves. The rounded shape keeps the leaves from sticking to the plastic. “The materials for dome skylights have changed, too,” Skelton says. “They used to be acrylic, and now they’re a PVC polycarbonate, so they’re tougher and they’ve gone to double and triple layers.

The truth about tubes

Also known as a sun tunnel, the solar tube is a long piece of metal, 10 to 20 inches in diameter, that runs between the roof and the ceiling. Sunlight enters the tube at the roof and exits in the room below, where the fixture looks much like a typical overhead light. Solar tubes are a great option for small spaces such as bathrooms and hallways, which often have no exterior window and lack the real estate needed to install a skylight. Solar tubes also can brighten a small kitchen or walk-in closet. A no-frills sun tunnel is priced around $160, which includes the flashing. Tubes may be somewhat easier for a homeowner to install. The brightest idea in daylight fixtures is a type of sun tunnel called Solatube. The product refracts and reflects solar light, using mirrors and lenses to pro-duce a greater concentration of sunlight. Solatubes are offered in three diameters, 10, 14 and 21 inches, and can include dimmers and optional features such as a standard light fixture for use at night.“Solatube is an excellent product,” Dyer says. “No one makes a mistake by installing a Solatube.” He also says most homeowners don’t need the extra features or that much light in a bathroom or hallway. Daylight fixtures “can be installed by most home owners with basic carpentry skills,” says Skelton. If cutting a hole in the roof makes you nervous, one option is to hire an expert to cut the opening, place the skylight and install the flashing. Then the homeowner can do the finish work of sheetrock, paint and trim. Dyer’s best advice for do-it-yourselfers: “Do not alter the structure of the roof or cut through a rafter. And read the flashing directions very carefully.” Then let the sun shine in.

By Linda J. Sellers

Special Publications
©The Register-Guard

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