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Glazed skylights have been used as a source of natural light in buildings for centuries, but they’ve also come a long way as a technology since their origins in the industrial revolution.

For starters, they’re now mass-produced and available as individual lightweight units, which means they no longer demand high amounts of structural support and are simple to install. Additionally, most suppliers now offer a diverse range of stock to suit most applications and some even offer an assortment of add-ons like high-performance glazing and automated operability.  

Beyond their obvious benefits, skylights have also been used to varying degrees of effectiveness over the years to minimise heating, cooling and lighting costs within a building. If specified correctly, they can reduce reliance on artificial lighting to illuminate a space and can also aid a reduction in mechanical heating costs by providing a source of solar heat gain to a room.

Skylights also serve as a great alternative to windows when there is a sizing restriction or privacy concerns. In transformed attic spaces for example, where windows aren’t suitable, openable skylights can provide both light and ventilation to an otherwise dark and dusty space.

TYPES OF SKYLIGHTS

While there is a seemingly endless assortment of skylights options in the African market they can be roughly grouped into three categories: roof windows, original skylights and tubular skylights.

The ideal skylightallows the right amount of light to penetrate and illuminate a space without facilitating uncomfortable amounts of solar heat gain and glare.

The guide’s rule of thumb for spacing of skylights is three to five per cent floor to skylight area ratio and one to two per cent for high performing tubular skylights. The distance between skylights, says the guide, is ideally one and a half times the height between floor and roofing.

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