3 Must-Have Qualities of Great Daylighting Systems

By Jeff Brain | August 24, 2015

When devising an artificial lighting strategy for a room or building, a lot of thought typically goes into selecting the most suitable types of fixtures, their placement in the space, and the types of bulbs each fixture will employ. Other factors play a role in these decisions as well. For example, your budget may limit fixture selection to a certain quality, while internal efficiency standards require a particular type of bulb.

Developing a daylighting strategy requires the same attention to detail. You must consider which daylighting system you are going to use, where to place windows and skylights, and the constraints of your construction and operation budgets. As you evaluate the options available, it is helpful to identify a few key qualities to help narrow down your options.

What to Look for in Daylighting Systems

1. Light optimization technology

The best way to optimize daylight is through smart design which accounts for building orientation, aperture size and placement, ceiling height, and interior layout. The use of skylights must also account for these factors, with the addition of the  specific technology employed. For example, the passive lighting technology used in tubular skylights makes sense in unique situations such as lighting small, enclosed spaces. However, in most cases, actively harnessing daylight will provide the most natural light for the longest period of time. In fact, active daylighting with solar-tracking skylights provides 300% more light than passive daylighting.

2. Glare control

Nobody appreciates blinding sunlight when they are trying to work, study, or shop. The right type of glazing on windows and doors can help to reduce glare caused by direct sunlight. Certain type of shades can also allow light in while reducing the intensity. When it comes to skylights, diffuser lenses provide the greatest glare reduction while also helping to uniformly disperse natural light in the building.  

3. Thermal management

Builders and designers  rarely use single-paned window glass for a reason. The amount of heat and air that can flow through them makes rooms drafty or uncomfortably hot. Double-paned windows reduce heat transfer in and out of the building. The same concept applies to skylights. If you install a daylighting system that allows cold air to enter your facility and hot air to escape, occupants will be uncomfortable and HVAC costs will increase. Direct sunlight from skylights that do not use diffuser lenses can also contribute to thermal discomfort by creating hot spots.

Solar-tracking skylights are an efficient daylighting system which incorporates all three of these must-have qualities. Natural light is harnessed with mirrors that move according to the location of the sun relative to the building, providing light for up to 10+ hours a day--significantly longer than traditional skylights. This light then passes through a diffuser lens, eliminating glare and thermal hot spots.

Ciralight SunTrackers are an excellent daylighting system for a broad range of industries including education, healthcare, offices, and retail. To learn more about how SunTrackers can be incorporated into your building design, contact us today for a consultation.

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