Pros and Cons of Skylights (Plus Alternatives)

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Skylights have this modern appeal to homes but they’ve actually been around for centuries. The ancient Roman architecture featured the Oculus of the Pantheon which is really an open skylight. The writer Hans Christian Andersen had a room in the loft where he had windows installed in the shed ceiling and the painter Vincent Van Gogh in his painting “Farms Near Auvers” captured houses with glazed roofs, which are really closed skylights.

Skylights obviously bring more than light and air to one’s home. So if you’re considering installing skylights or its alternatives, the factors below may help you weigh your options.

Tempered skylight great for illuminating dark rooms.Source:  Home Depot

Pros

  • If you enjoy having plants inside your home, then you will love how healthy they are under a skylight. Instead of cramming them around a window, you can have them spread out in your home. In addition, you’ll be able to have a wider variety of plants.
  • The light from a skylight is even, unlike through the windows where it is brighter by the window and fades as it travels into the room. Skylights do a great job of evenly brightening up a room.
  • You can enjoy a beautiful view of the sky through your skylight and watch the clouds, which is fun if your family loves paying attention to the weather.
  • No matter the time of day, you will be able to enjoy natural light in your room. This is different from windows where the sun has to be on that side of the house in order to light up the space.
  • When a home has a lot of natural light, the whole appearance will be more beautiful. Homeowners love skylights because they can see the real colors of their furniture, art, and paint. In addition, indoor photographs will be a lot more flattering.

Cons

  • Unless you have shades or a blind that you can draw over the skylight, it’s normal for them to let in too much heat in the summer and to cool down a room too much in the winter.
  • If not installed correctly or as it gets older, skylights will tend to leak. This can cause a lot of damage to your home if you do not notice and correct it right away. The water can leak into the home or simply run under the shingles in the roof, causing more damage before you notice it.

Alternatives

1. Solar Tubes

Flexible solar tube that allows natural light to enter your space.Source: Home Depot

Solar, or sun, tubes are sheet-metal tubes up to 14 inches in diameter. They have a polished interior that acts similarly to a mirror bringing light into your home. This is a great way for some homeowners to capture the natural light of the sun and bring it into their homes.

Pros

  • Solar tubes make it possible for homeowners to enjoy natural light in their homes even when they do not have enough space for a skylight. Other times, it is just not possible to access the roof with the construction of a skylight but solar tubes can often still be used as they can direct light from 30 feet away when installed correctly.
  • They eliminate the risk of UV rays in your home and will keep your family safer.
  • They will help to brighten up your home without increasing your monthly electric bill.
  • Because of the way that solar tubes distribute light into your home and carry it through the tube itself, there will be very little glare inside your home and your house is unlikely to heat up because of the light.
  • The light will not damage or fade your carpet, art, or upholstery.
  • Solar tubes are less expensive to install than skylights are and the work can be completed quickly. In addition, there are often federal tax credits that homeowners can apply for to help offset the still-substantial cost.
  • They are designed to be leak-proof so homeowners don’t have to worry about water damage in their roofs or homes.

Cons

  • Homeowners who want to be able to see the sky directly through the light will not be able to with a solar tube.
  • While some skylights can be opened or tilted to let in fresh air, this is not possible with a solar tube.
  • They do not add to the value of your home when it is time to sell it.
  • Solar tubes are not a great option for homes in extreme temperatures.
  • Some homeowners complain that solar tubes deliver a light that is blueish in color and this can be in part due to the tube itself. It’s important that the protective coating inside the tube is removed before it is installed.

2.Traditional Windows

Easy-to-clean and low-maintenance white, vinyl window.Source:  Home Depot

Every home has them and this is the type of window that most homeowners are comfortable with. They come in any number of styles and, with the right care, can last for decades. While some skilled homeowners can replace their own windows, installing new ones or repairing a lot of damage around the window frame is best left to the professionals.

Pros

  • There are any number of sizes, shapes, styles, and colors of windows that you can have installed at your home, making them a great way to update your home quickly.
  • Newer windows are very energy efficient and will keep your home from wild temperature swings, no matter the outside weather.
  • If you want to update the style and appearance of your home, you can easily change window styles to enhance your curb appeal.
  • The right windows, when professionally installed, can improve the value of your home when you go to sell.
  • They are less expensive than other window options.

Cons

  • Glass panes are easy to crack by accident and can sometimes result in the entire window being replaced.
  • They are more difficult to clean than other options because the top sash doesn’t tilt into the home, making homeowners have to use a ladder to clean this window from outside.
  • High humidity can cause the window to swell, making them difficult to open or to close.
  • If not properly installed, it’s easy for water to get inside the home and cause the window frame to start to rot.

3. Double-Hung Windows

Double-hung, white vinyl window with a decorative exterior.Source: Home Depot

These windows are quickly growing in popularity, and for good reason. While they have the appearance of traditional windows, they have a very smooth operation and are easy to open and to close.

Pros

  • These windows can accept screens, making it possible to open them in the summer without letting in insects.
  • Double-hung windows are incredibly easy to clean because the tops and bottoms will tile out. This means that you don’t have to remove screens, get a ladder, and clean the windows from outside.
  • With plenty of quality weatherstripping, double-hung windows keep the warm air in your home from escaping during the winter and keep your home cool all summer long.

Cons

  • These windows, even with their quadruple weatherstripping, do not do as great of a job as keeping your home airtight as other windows do.
  • You will only be able to open half of the window at a time, as the bottom sash will slide up to let in fresh air.

4. Picture Windows

Unique and decorative, tempered glass window.Source: Home Depot

These gorgeous windows create a beautiful frame for homeowners to look outside and offer a wonderful view. In addition to being airtight, picture windows will let more natural light into the home than other options will.

Pros

  • They are an incredibly energy-efficient choice and often consist of at least two panes of glass with hermetically sealed air between the panels. For homeowners looking to save a lot of money on energy bills each month, they are a great option.
  • With many different frame types to choose from, it’s easy to find a picture window that will fit in your budget. Some of the less-expensive options are aluminum or fiberglass while more expensive picture windows will have frames made of wood or vinyl.
  • Since there are no moving parts on picture windows, homeowners don’t have to worry about repairing pieces that may break.

Cons

  • Because they are fixed, homeowners can’t open them to enjoy a fresh breeze and many homeowners miss this ability. This is a good reason to install picture windows and other types of windows that can be opened in the same room.
  • Cracked picture windows require that the entire pane of glass is replaced or they will let in gusts of air and lower the appearance of your home.
  • Due to their wide area, these windows will usually let in more heat than other options will.
  • They’re not a great choice in a bathroom since they can’t be opened to let out built-up humidity, which can cause mold to grow in your room.

5. Glass Block Window

Frameless, glass block window with wavy details.Source: Home Depot

These windows add an interesting design element to any home and are becoming more popular not only on exterior walls but also on the interior walls of a home.

Pros

  • Glass block windows do a great job insulating a home and keep out any drafts that other windows will let in.
  • They provide a lot of light inside the home but it is illumination, not harsh and direct rays from the sun.
  • Homeowners looking for a green building love glass block windows because they understand that they create lower energy bills. This can allow some homeowners to increase the asking price for their properties.

Cons

  • There is no natural ventilation with these windows, which not only keeps fresh air out of the home but also traps old air and noxious chemicals inside.
  • Because of their increased weight, homes have to be engineered with additional support for glass block windows.





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