The design possibilities are plentiful when it comes to rooflights; whether you want to transform previously uninhabitable basements or cellars or simply create a living or dining space that your family will enjoy every second in, there are four distinct types of skylight to choose from:
- Fixed rooflights
- Opening rooflights
- Walk-on rooflights
- Pyramid rooflights
This type of skylight is the most traditional design you can opt for. It is secured to an upstand on the roof and provides an abundance of natural daylight for interiors below. For larger areas of glazing, a number of glass panes can be linked together to provide one large rooflight. With clean, elegant lines and a sleek profile, a static rooflight maximises sunlight whilst offering outstanding thermal performance; thus ensuring the rooflight does not become a potential heat loss area for your new-build.
Available in elongated and square-shaped designs, a fixed rooflight is the original rooflight designed especially for flat roof applications. They are the most simplistic architectural rooflight option in terms of design, but equally as effective as more complex skylight designs.
In order to be sure that a static skylight performs to its best in terms of thermal efficiency, it’s highly recommended that only static rooflights with thermal breaks should be acquired – especially skylights made from aluminium. That’s because the aluminium transmits heat and cold temperatures very efficiently and if the external temperature can control the temperature of the skylight frame it can create significant condensation and heat loss issues.
Self-builders should also consider a fixed rooflight that has a laminated safety inner pane as this will contain the glass if the inner pane were to break. Meanwhile the day-to-day benefit is that the laminate acts as a UV filter, helping to protect your internal finishes and furniture from potentially harmful UV rays.
A highly effective solution for those seeking increased ventilation and fresh air for living areas below, opening rooflights are electronically operated by remote control to provide properties with an abundance of natural light and clean air combined. From the outside, an opening rooflight looks like a traditional fixed skylight, but the chain-driven actuators within an opening rooflight enable it to open – often to a maximum of 400mm.
In order to automate the operation of an opening skylight, so that it provides ventilation for interiors even when you are away from the property, it’s possible to install a weather pack which works in tandem with the operating system. The weather pack is fitted with a rain and wind sensor, automatically triggering the closure of the rooflight in the event of inclement weather.
An opening skylight can also help to create a point of access to a flat roof – ideal for those wishing to maximise floor space and utilise the flat roof as a terrace. A roof access skylight delivers the same amount of natural daylight as a standard opening rooflight, whilst opening to a maximum of 87 degrees, allowing for simple and unrestricted entry and exit. The framework of an opening skylight also contains multiple polyamide thermal breaks, offering outstanding thermal performance.
Designed to be walked upon regularly, internal and external walk-on skylights are a very effective means of enhancing levels of natural light into living areas below. A typical use for an external walk-on skylight would be in a courtyard or garden area which sits above subterranean living space. A walk-on rooflight sits on an upstand and a gap is left between the surface of the rooflight and the paved or decked surface.
Whether it’s for use inside or outside, a walk-on rooflight requires glazing strong enough to take regular foot traffic for comprehensive safety and watertight performance. This structural integrity is essential in meeting Building Regulations.
Glazing specifications for walk-on rooflights should be taken into consideration, particularly if the rooflight is being positioned in a high traffic area. Anti-slip treatments can be applied to increase slip resistance on glass that can get wet in busy homes. When combined with an external upstand, a walk-on rooflight should be able to achieve a U-value that comfortably meets Building Regulations.
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Pyramid skylights for flat roofs can make a genuine architectural statement for any new-build property. A stylish, contemporary alternative to a fixed rooflight, the pyramid design can add real character. Typically, the first pyramid skylights available for residential and commercial projects were initially designed to sit at a 45-degree pitch. However, over time, designers have sought to reduce the pitch to just 30-degrees and lower, resulting in a more unobtrusive design externally whilst flooding interiors below with abundant natural light.
Over time, design trends have seen glazing bars of pyramid skylight’s framework become ever thinner, as manufacturers strive to ensure maximum light transmission into properties. Pyramid rooflights are available in a lantern-style size, which is more of an elongated rectangular shape, as well as square shapes depending on the architectural requirements of your project.
As with most contemporary architectural skylights, a pyramid rooflight can be glazed to a wide range of specifications such as obscured glazing for privacy and solar control glazing to minimise solar gain and maximise light transmittance. Aluminium framed pyramid skylights are the ones to look out for as they can offer a greater service life – almost twice that of UPVC framework – and crucial weather performance and water tightness.
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