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The Rooflight Manufacturers’ Marketing Trap and How to Avoid it

21 January 2019
Our managing director, Justin Seldis, sheds the light on false claims. False claims are becoming a real problem in the rooflight industry. It’s a sad fact that – as rooflight manufacturers scramble to find a point of difference in an increasingly competitive marketplace – some are turning to misinformation to sell their products.

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This is the first time in 15 years that we have ever had to speak to our valued clients in this way, but it’s time to set the record straight. The stark reality is that certain manufacturers are misleading their customers and ultimately, causing them to choose products that simply don’t make the grade where it matters most. But how are they getting away with it?

A need for regulation

At the moment, our industry is completely unregulated. There are no mandatory standards governing the manufacture or sale of flat-roof skylights in the UK. At Sunsquare, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to improve this situation by working with quality assurance leader the BSI (British Standards Institution) to develop a BSI Kitemark accreditation specifically for flat-roof skylights.

As it stands, Sunsquare products are the only flat-roof skylights on the market to hold a BSI Kitemark. And until others follow suit, the lack of regulation serves as a kind of loophole for unscrupulous manufacturers to cut corners, bamboozling customers with false claims and sub-standard products.

So, what should you, the customer, look out for to avoid falling into the rooflight marketing trap?

The true value of the U-value

In our view, calculating an accurate U-value means including every part of the skylight – including the frame. And this is what customers should be asking for when doing their research.

Anyone can calculate the U-value of a sealed-unit glass centre pane and make claims, but when that sealed unit is placed in an aluminium frame, the calculation can differ dramatically.

The danger of focusing solely on the thermal performance of the centre pane is that you can end up with a score that’s up to six times lower than it would be if it took the whole product into account. For example, a manufacturer using the centre pane only could claim a rooflight U-value as low as 0.5 w/m2k. Impressive? Definitely. Accurate? No.

This inaccurate method of reporting U-values also makes a fair comparison impossible. Pit the pane-only U-value against an equivalent from our range, at 1.21 w/m2k, and you’d be forgiven for thinking the choice was a no-brainer. But in reality, the Sunsquare U-value is the only accurate one – including the frame, the glass and all other components in a proper, all-encompassing U-value calculation.

Putting efficiency first

A skylight with overstated thermal performance ultimately means a colder building, more condensation, higher heating bills and a larger carbon footprint. It could also mean a failure to meet Part L of Building Regulations altogether.

So, it’s easy to see just how much is at stake when customers fall foul of claims that are unregulated, unchecked and frankly untrue.

As the only rooflights to have a quadruple thermal break, the bottom line is that Sunsquare products have the most thermally efficient profiles available. In fact, we can offer genuine U-values of as low as PassivHaus requirements (and that’s with the frame included!).

Avoiding a false economy

It’s true that some manufacturers are racing to produce skylights faster, cheaper, and at larger volumes. In the absence of any independent certification, they can sell products that have an impressively low price tag, but fail to perform even at the most basic level. Very simply, they’re leaky, flimsy and they won’t stand up against the weather when it matters most.

Just as we do with U-values, when considering price, we always encourage our customers to look at the whole package. Others might claim to be cheaper, but we are known for being able to offer our clients custom sizing as standard: providing them with exactly what they need, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all option.

You simply can’t compare made-to-measure with off-the-shelf – and we’d never ask you to.

Trust the experts

At Sunsquare, we’re celebrating our 15th year as a designer and manufacturer of high-specification flat-roof skylights. It’s all we do and all we will ever do. We have concentrated on producing the very best products available, with the credentials to match. And we’ll continue to set the standard in an unregulated industry.

That’s why we’re asking other flat-roof skylight manufacturers to follow suit and adopt BSI Kitemark accreditation. It’s the only way to prove that their whole product (rather than just the glass) meets the efficiency, quality and safety standards that customers deserve.

As always, we welcome feedback from our clients. Feel free to get in touch with Sunsquare today.

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