Launch Slideshow

Solatube. The eChoice Daylighting System includes 10-inch- and 14-inch-diameter tubular skylights (models 160 DSe and 190 DSe), which offer 0.20 SHGC and 0.28 U-factor ratings that exceed Energy Star requirements. Highly polished rigid Infinity tubing extension lengths allow runs up to 30 feet including bends and angles to 90 degrees, with no degradation of performance. These systems can accommodate virtually any roof slope and covering, and interior lighting kits and electric dimmers are available. 888.765.2882. www.solatube.com.

Daylighting Products

Daylighting Products

  • Velux. A new low-profile, flat-glass roof lens is available on the companys 14-inch-diameter Sun Tunnel tubular skylight with rigid tubing (model TLR 014 2000A). According to the company, this type of skylight is less obtrusive than solar tubes with roof domes and will be more acceptable for use in communities that do not allow or restrict the placement of domed skylights. 800.888.3589. www.veluxusa.com.

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    Velux. A new low-profile, flat-glass roof lens is available on the companys 14-inch-diameter Sun Tunnel tubular skylight with rigid tubing (model TLR 014 2000A). According to the company, this type of skylight is less obtrusive than solar tubes with roof domes and will be more acceptable for use in communities that do not allow or restrict the placement of domed skylights. 800.888.3589. www.veluxusa.com.

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    Velux.
    A new low-profile, flat-glass roof lens is available on the companys 14-inch-diameter Sun Tunnel tubular skylight with rigid tubing (model TLR 014 2000A). According to the company, this type of skylight is less obtrusive than solar tubes with roof domes and will be more acceptable for use in communities that do not allow or restrict the placement of domed skylights. 800.888.3589. www.veluxusa.com.

  • ODL. A Solar Powered Dimmer is now available for new or retrofit installations of the companys 10-inch tubular skylights. The dimming function requires no electrical wiring and operates on power provided by a solar panel mounted near the tubes roof inlet. Homeowners use a handheld remote unit to control the amount of sunlight entering through the tube. A non-yellowing Solar Lens Roof Dome uses optics to maximize brightness in low-light conditions. The units are Energy Star qualified. 866.635.4968. www.odl.com.

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    ODL. A Solar Powered Dimmer is now available for new or retrofit installations of the companys 10-inch tubular skylights. The dimming function requires no electrical wiring and operates on power provided by a solar panel mounted near the tubes roof inlet. Homeowners use a handheld remote unit to control the amount of sunlight entering through the tube. A non-yellowing Solar Lens Roof Dome uses optics to maximize brightness in low-light conditions. The units are Energy Star qualified. 866.635.4968. www.odl.com.

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    ODL.
    A Solar Powered Dimmer is now available for new or retrofit installations of the companys 10-inch tubular skylights. The dimming function requires no electrical wiring and operates on power provided by a solar panel mounted near the tubes roof inlet. Homeowners use a handheld remote unit to control the amount of sunlight entering through the tube. A non-yellowing Solar Lens Roof Dome uses optics to maximize brightness in low-light conditions. The units are Energy Star qualified. 866.635.4968. www.odl.com.

  • \Solar Innovations. Retractable Skylights are mounted on tracks that allow them to slide completely out of the way, providing unobstructed roof openings and ventilation for living areas, indoor pools, sports courts, or any room designed to take advantage of this feature. Single units up to 6 feet by 8 feet are available, or multiple units may be ganged like skylights. Motorized or manual styles are available. Units are manufactured to meet custom requirements, and project-specific testing is available. 800.618.0669. www.solarinnovations.com.

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    \Solar Innovations. Retractable Skylights are mounted on tracks that allow them to slide completely out of the way, providing unobstructed roof openings and ventilation for living areas, indoor pools, sports courts, or any room designed to take advantage of this feature. Single units up to 6 feet by 8 feet are available, or multiple units may be ganged like skylights. Motorized or manual styles are available. Units are manufactured to meet custom requirements, and project-specific testing is available. 800.618.0669. www.solarinnovations.com.

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    Solar Innovations.
    Retractable Skylights are mounted on tracks that allow them to slide completely out of the way, providing unobstructed roof openings and ventilation for living areas, indoor pools, sports courts, or any room designed to take advantage of this feature. Single units up to 6 feet by 8 feet are available, or multiple units may be ganged like skylights. Motorized or manual styles are available. Units are manufactured to meet custom requirements, and project-specific testing is available. 800.618.0669. www.solarinnovations.com.

  • Solatube. The eChoice Daylighting System includes 10-inch- and 14-inch-diameter tubular skylights (models 160 DSe and 190 DSe), which offer 0.20 SHGC and 0.28 U-factor ratings that exceed Energy Star requirements. Highly polished rigid Infinity tubing extension lengths allow runs up to 30 feet including bends and angles to 90 degrees, with no degradation of performance. These systems can accommodate virtually any roof slope and covering, and interior lighting kits and electric dimmers are available. 888.765.2882. www.solatube.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpA91E%2Etmp_tcm131-723238.jpg

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    Solatube. The eChoice Daylighting System includes 10-inch- and 14-inch-diameter tubular skylights (models 160 DSe and 190 DSe), which offer 0.20 SHGC and 0.28 U-factor ratings that exceed Energy Star requirements. Highly polished rigid Infinity tubing extension lengths allow runs up to 30 feet including bends and angles to 90 degrees, with no degradation of performance. These systems can accommodate virtually any roof slope and covering, and interior lighting kits and electric dimmers are available. 888.765.2882. www.solatube.com.

    600

    Solatube.
    The eChoice Daylighting System includes 10-inch- and 14-inch-diameter tubular skylights (models 160 DSe and 190 DSe), which offer 0.20 SHGC and 0.28 U-factor ratings that exceed Energy Star requirements. Highly polished rigid Infinity tubing extension lengths allow runs up to 30 feet including bends and angles to 90 degrees, with no degradation of performance. These systems can accommodate virtually any roof slope and covering, and interior lighting kits and electric dimmers are available. 888.765.2882. www.solatube.com.

  • Wasco. 30-30 Triple Glazed skylights with eMax3 glazing feature inner and outer low-E glass, a clear interior pane, and argon-filled airspaces. The Energy Starrated units offer an R-value of 3.7, a U-factor of 0.27, and an SHGC of 0.22, and are available in the companys E-Class models. 800.388.0293. www.wascoskylights.com.

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    Wasco. 30-30 Triple Glazed skylights with eMax3 glazing feature inner and outer low-E glass, a clear interior pane, and argon-filled airspaces. The Energy Starrated units offer an R-value of 3.7, a U-factor of 0.27, and an SHGC of 0.22, and are available in the companys E-Class models. 800.388.0293. www.wascoskylights.com.

    600

    Wasco.
    30-30 Triple Glazed skylights with eMax3 glazing feature inner and outer low-E glass, a clear interior pane, and argon-filled airspaces. The Energy Starrated units offer an R-value of 3.7, a U-factor of 0.27, and an SHGC of 0.22, and are available in the companys E-Class models. 800.388.0293. www.wascoskylights.com.

  • U.S. Sunlight. The Skylight Tube (model 2014ST) has a low-profile roof lens that looks like a typical skylight instead of a dome lens used by most solar tubes. The unit includes a durable outer polycarbonate lens with inner acrylic lens at the roof inlet, and a triple acrylic lens at the interior ceiling outlet. According to the firm, air gaps between each lens provide superior insulation and help the product achieve a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.20. The product is pending Energy Star. 866.446.0966. www.ussunlight.com.

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    U.S. Sunlight. The Skylight Tube (model 2014ST) has a low-profile roof lens that looks like a typical skylight instead of a dome lens used by most solar tubes. The unit includes a durable outer polycarbonate lens with inner acrylic lens at the roof inlet, and a triple acrylic lens at the interior ceiling outlet. According to the firm, air gaps between each lens provide superior insulation and help the product achieve a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.20. The product is pending Energy Star. 866.446.0966. www.ussunlight.com.

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    U.S. Sunlight.
    The Skylight Tube (model 2014ST) has a low-profile roof lens that looks like a typical skylight instead of a dome lens used by most solar tubes. The unit includes a durable outer polycarbonate lens with inner acrylic lens at the roof inlet, and a triple acrylic lens at the interior ceiling outlet. According to the firm, air gaps between each lens provide superior insulation and help the product achieve a solar heat gain coefficient of 0.20. The product is pending Energy Star. 866.446.0966. www.ussunlight.com.

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    Duo-Gard.
    The company now offers its translucent daylighting panels with 3S Solar Block, a transparent coating that the firm claims transmits up to 79% of visible light while blocking 99.9% of the UV rays that can cause fading and 95% of infrared heat rays. The product allows pros to bring in daylight through walls, skylights, and canopies without causing heat gain and glare. The coating can be combined with the company’s other offerings, such as Nanogel insulation, to suit each project’s needs. www.duo-gard.com.

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    EDTM.
    The Glass-Chek Pro (model GC3000) is a digital glazing-measurement device designed for window installation, replacement, inspection, and fabricating professionals. The compact, portable unit can measure the glass and airspace thickness of single-, double-, and triple-pane windows from just one side of a window, including windows with suspended films, tinted glass, and low-E coatings. According to the manufacturer, it is an indispensable tool for identifying products in the field and to prevent costly mistakes when various types of glazed products are installed in the same location. 419.861.1030. http://www.edtm.com/.

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    Feeney Architectural Products.
    Lightline canopies combine 304-grade stainless steel support arms, UV-resistant visor panes, and integrated anodized aluminum rain gutters and hardware for a modern take on the traditional overhang. Shipped as kits, the canopies come in curved, arch, or gable styles in a range of sizes; clear, tinted, or frosted panes are available. 800.888-2418. www.lightlinecanopies.com.

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    HomeRun Holdings.
    Cordless and programmable, QMotion Shades are the first interior electronic window covering product of their kind, according to the manufacturer. Each shade operates on batteries discreetly hidden within the shade tubes, so they require no electrical wiring, and ball-bearing slides ensure smooth, silent operation. The shades can be programmed to operate individually or in groups and can be controlled remotely—even far from the home—via a wireless remote control unit. 877.849.6090. www.qmotionshades.com.

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    Pleotint.
    Using sunlight-responsive thermochromic technology, Pleotint glass darkens in direct sunlight, reducing heat and glare while maintaining the view; because the sun does the work, no wiring is required. The film is the same base material used in laminated safety glass, so it also prevents broken glass from shattering if impacted, the maker says. http://www.pleotint.com/.

The availability of window options spanning upwards of R-5, 8, and even 11, and the diversity of coatings, films, and insulated glazings allows immense flexibility to customize each window according to its exposure. As reported in EcoHome’s “Optimizing Windows” (March/April 2010, page 31), for the all-day exposure of south-facing windows, cold climates need a greater U-factor (ideally 0.20 or less) but less-efficient SHGC (perhaps 0.50 or higher) to boost heat gain in the winter and offset heating energy, along with overhangs or other shading to reduce gain in the summer. In hot climates, south-facing windows should combine shading with U-factors and SHGC ratings of 0.30 or better.

Orient the floor plan away from the hard-to-control west-facing exposure as much as possible, the report continued. If windows are needed, select units with efficient U-factors and SHGC ratings. If more glass is desired for views, increase the SHGC and use shading inside and out. The eastern exposure also receives lots of daylight but is cooler, allowing for an SHGC rating of 0.40 or more, especially in cold or mixed climates, and a U-factor of 0.30 is sufficient to retard thermal transfer. For northern exposures, which offer the least opportunity for solar gain, dual-pane units with a standard low-E coating are sufficient.

  • Windows in the sitting area overlooking the first floor funnel light into the interior of this Levitch Associates home in Berkeley, Calif.
    Windows in the sitting area overlooking the first floor funnel light into the interior of this Levitch Associates home in Berkeley, Calif.
  • Windows above the sink and clerestory windows at the ceiling bring natural light into the kitchen workspace of Anderson Andersons B-House in Shimasaki on Kyushu Island in Japan.
    Windows above the sink and clerestory windows at the ceiling bring natural light into the kitchen workspace of Anderson Andersons B-House in Shimasaki on Kyushu Island in Japan.
Interior and exterior shading strategies can mitigate solar gain and energy loss, as well. Designs can make use of exterior elements such as pergolas, battens, overhangs, and natural landscape features to shade or fragment overly strong direct sunlight. When exterior design options are limited, interior shades are also available. “They’re not always as efficient,” Fougeron notes, “but they give you infinite variability—you can move them up and down, or sideways, when you want to block the light.”

Remodeling Challenges

Home renovation specialist Maurice Levitch of the California design-build firm Levitch Associates notes that site orientation, particularly in an existing structure, may limit—but does not eliminate—design options for daylighting. Historic homes that are required to maintain original facades and homes restricted by housing community covenants can be especially challenging when it comes to changing a home’s exterior to allow more daylight in, he says.

Levitch’s strategy is to “look for opportunities to borrow light from other rooms” within the existing structure. Skylights over stairwells, tubular skylights, glazed transoms above interior doors, removing interior walls, and placing windows in interior walls are some of the methods he uses to accomplish this. Daylighting “is more aesthetic,” Levitch says. “A brighter space with natural light gives you more of a feeling of space during the day.”

Still, as attractive as the idea of sun-filled spaces might be to the homeowners who clamor for it, he cautions clients that the benefits don’t always outweigh the cost or difficulty of tearing down bearing walls or rearranging an interior just to increase natural lighting.

Michael Morris is a freelance writer in Ossining, N.Y.