Bring in the sunshine

Last Updated 25 February 2016, 18:36 IST

For those looking to infuse the home with a lot of natural light, there’s no need to look further than skylights, states K S Someswara.

Today, when we design our homes, we look for ways that can make it more eco-friendly, whether it’s in the choice of materials or methods used. And one of the first things we look at is how we can reduce our dependency on artificial lighting. A simple method of doing this by incorporating skylights in our home wherever we can. This is one of the easiest way to bring in more natural light into our homes and reduce the dependence on artifical lighting.

Skylights are essentially a light-transmitting fenestration that form a part of the roof (or in some cases, takes up all of the roof space). These include roof windows, tubular daylight and slope glaze. The materials used are transparent or semi-transparent, which facilitate sunlight to come into the interiors.

Natural light makes a space look bright and cheerful, making it appear larger. Skylight provides an unusual view of the sky, especially on bright starry nights and during full moon days. Security grills can be easily fixed wherever necessary, as per convenience.
There are several studies that have indicated the benefits of skylights. For instance, one’s work performance is known ito improve significantly under natural lighting. Additionally, sunlight is a natural disinfectant that can reduce the build up of mould and bacteria in our homes.

Spoilt for choice

Skylights are traditionally made of either glass or plastic infill systems. Glass infill skylights are made using insulated glass units (in pairs where one is of low emission). This gives a balancing effect to ensure optimal solar heat gain efficiency. On the other hand, plastic infill systems are usually thermally-formed domes. They are UV stabilised and may also have additional features to improve thermal properties.

There are many varieties and sizes of skylights to choose from, according to your home’s needs. As they are integrated into the ceiling or roof construction, they can be installed in any space such as the living room, kitchen, or even the corridor.

Some of the popular varieties include:

* Roof windows: These are more like a large window suitable for studios and penthouses with a slope ceiling. They are also useful in reading and writing spaces. A roof window in a bedroom makes it appear larger.

* Sun tunnels: It is a good alternative to traditional skylight. This allows natural light into the bathroom, hallway and closets. They are easy to install.

* Tubular daylighting device (TDD): A light tube that is installed at the roof level, it transmits light to a particular place inside. It is able to transmit visible light through opaque walls and the roof with the help of modern technology. Here, the tube itself is a passive component consisting of either a simple reflective interior coating or a light -conducting optic bundle. They are frequently capped with a transparent roof-mounted zone called ‘light collector’ and terminated with a different assembly that lets daylight inside and distributes it evenly.

* Heliostats: In this type of skylight, moveable mirrors automatically reflect sunlight as the sun moves across the sky. This is fast gaining popularity as an energy-efficient lighting.

* Smart glass: Here, the materials can be switched between a transparent and an opaque state. Translucent reflectors or retro-reflectors will provide natural lighting. Switching is done by applying a voltage to the material or by using optic fibre cables embedded in the
concrete walls.

* Hybrid solar: A roof-mounting light collector with large optic fibres, it uses modified, efficient fluorescent lighting fixtures that have transparent rods. This is essentially a non-electric utility in day lighting.

* Solarium: It is basically a glass-enclosed porch or room, it includes greenhouses, sun rooms, etc.

Sense of openness

Skylights are the best ways to highlight certain areas in your home. For instance, placing a  sheet of glass over the courtyard can work wonders. This allows immense natural light to flood into the home. Not only does this create a sense of openness at home, but also provides protection against nature’s adverse conditions.

If you want to get creative, you can use skylights made of stained glass, slightly tinted glass or glass blocks. When the light falls on the design, it will give the space a decorative and distinctive look.

With so many materials and options available today, incorporating a skylight into your home is among the best ways of enhancing your home’s appeal immensely. So, what are you waiting for? Let the light come in, naturally!

(Published 25 February 2016, 13:28 IST)

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