A single skylight can transform a dark, closed-in kitchens into a light, airy room bathed in warm, natural light-in fact; a skylight can even be a kitchens sole source of natural light. However, there are also many pitfalls to adding a skylight to your kitchen, and careful planning is necessary to get good results.
lt’s a common mistake to overestimate the size or number of skylights your kitchen needs. ln reality, a single two-by-four-foot skylight (or a pair of two-by-two skylights) is just about right for a typical kitchen. Although experts disagree about how much glass area is enough, most recommend between 5 and 15 percent of the floor area, and some even suggest less than 5 percent. lf your skylight is too large (or if you install too many small ones), it will overheat the room during warm weather. Be sure to keep the skylight ratio low if your kitchen has lots of vertical windows; this combination is especially prone to over-heating. If the room has only a few other windows, a larger skylight ratio might make sense, as long as you use a glazing with low solar heat gain.
Ensuring Comfort & Efficiency
Skylights aren’t energy efficient; in summer they heat up the home quickly, and in winter they can’t collect heat because the sun is too low in the sky: They’re an easy escape route for heated air, and the most energy-efficient models can reduce light transmission, which is the main reason for buying a skylight in the first place. To address these concerns, choose a skylight with good ratings. ln a cold-winter climate, look for a window that has a U-value of 0.45 or lower and that lets in little solar heat but plenty of light. A SHGC between 0.30 and 0.50 is best for avoiding summer overheating, and a visible light rating above 0.70 is optimal for light transmission. Like windows, skylights come with energy-efficient glazing options, such as low-e and tinted glass.
Green tints are better than bronze tints for reducing solar heat gain while still letting in plenty of visible light. You can find skylights anywhere you buy windows. Most are packaged for shipping, which means you can’t inspect the one you’re buying in the store. However, you or your contractor should inspect the package on delivery Make sure that all parts are in good condition, all materials, including clips, flashing and screws, are provided and installation instructions are included. (Since different manufacturers have different specs, even professionals need instructions.)