No matter where you live in Seattle’s eastside area-Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland or Mercer Island-you have probably thought about putting a skylight in your home. When the dreary weather starts in the fall, it’s only natural to want to let as much natural light into your home as possible and skylights are a great solution.
If you already have a skylight but it leaks or has other problems, it may be time for a replacement. It’s often better in the long run to replace a failed unit that to try to fix it as the leaks or other problems may return.
This post is divided into 2 parts and we hope it helps when choosing a skylight. Part 1 focuses on the types/options available and Part 2 on skylight installation.
At the Bellevue Roofing Company, we use skylights built for the Pacific Northwest and so, our skylights of choice come from 2 local companies: CrystaLite and Tam. These companies are based in the Seattle area so we know their skylights are manufactured to withstand our high winds and heavy rainfall.
Basic types of skylights
- Fixed-does not open (most popular)
- Venting (operable)-opens manually or by motor via remote control
Please note-both types are available as an acrylic Dome skylight for flat or low-pitched roofs.
The glazing information below is for CrystaLite skylights though the glazing options are typically universal and can be found in most brands.
Fixed skylight glass glazing info
Fixed skylights are less expensive and less susceptible to leaking, which is probably the reason more people install them. Glass skylights require at least a 2/12 pitched roof for installation.
All glass skylights from CrystaLite are constructed with energy efficient commercial grade, dual-seal silicone, insulated glass. The standard glass option is Cardinal LoE 272 coating filled with argon gas.
This combination provides a great balance of thermal performance with excellent light transmittance and delivers year-round comfort and energy savings for most locations. There’s a range of LoE coatings with varying degrees of energy efficiency where glare is a problem.
LoE coating explained
LoE is a microscopically factory applied coating (meaning it can’t be seen by the naked eye) which helps to insulate and block harmful light waves from the sun. The Argon gas between the panes increases the insulating properties of the skylight and you’ll be glad to know argon is an inert gas so it has no negative effect on the environment.
Both of these things together cuts down on excess solar heat gain caused by direct sunlight. Solar Heat Gain is simply the amount of solar radiation that enters a building as heat from direct sunlight.
In short, the room won’t get really hot when the sun is beating down on the skylight because the heat rays are blocked from entering by the LoE/Argon gas combination.
CrystaLite skylights are NAMI certified and NFRC rated for thermal performance, including U-factor, SHGC* (solar heat gain coefficient) and visible light transmittance.
All standard skylights are NAMI certified to the NAFS standard for air filtration, water penetration and structural loading (commonly referred to as certified AAMA testing). See part 2 for explanations on abbreviations.
CrystaLite has redesigned their enhancement panel so it now had a thermally broken aluminum frame with a white enamel finish. It can be purchased as a stand-alone item for retrofitting onto an existing skylight. Doing so can almost double the thermal performance of your skylight without replacing it.
Domed glazing options
Also called plastic skylights, these are light weight and used on flat or low-sloped roofs. Their domed shape makes them virtually self-cleaning as the rainfall runoff helps to keep them clean.
Domed shaped skylights are stronger by design and have a high wind and snow load capacity (if your home is located in a convergence zone or in the upper elevations-this is an important factor).
Plastic skylights are made with one of 3 high-impact or impact resistant materials.
1. Acrylic (most common)
Domes are available in single, double or triple layers for varying energy saving needs. For example, CrystaLite’s triple layer plastic dome skylights have excellent UV (ultraviolet) light resistance and delivers the same insulating qualities as their standard glass skylights (discussed above).
In addition, the plastic comes in Clear for maximum light, Bronze for reduced heat transmission and Translucence white for optimal light diffusion.
Newest line exceeds green standards
The Series 5000 line was designed to surpass the strictest energy code requirements and green standards out there. These units have a new frame design that amplifies glazing thermal performance while reducing heat loss and the result is unrivalled NFRC-rated thermal properties without using a nanogel fill substrate.
Basically it means that these models are built without any of the ‘red-listed’ materials not allowed by some green standards, which can differ state to state. Also, they are PVC-free products.