There are increasingly more advanced, efficient, and cost-effective lighting systems flooding the market which makes choosing the right lighting for your facility a complex decision. Important factors to look at are building design, energy costs, potential savings, geographical location, etc. Below are a few key questions to ask when deciding if skylights are the best fit for your business.
How is Your Building Designed
A building’s structural design can impact whether or not integrating daylighting would be cost-effective. For example, buildings that consist of multiple stories will only be able to provide natural light to the top floor, minimizing the benefits of investing in daylighting. In other cases, ceiling level obstructions such as HVAC ducts can prevent light from spreading through a room, although tubular or daylighting devices that use lightwells are designed to circumvent this design flaw and bring light deeper into a building. Most skylights are best suited to open floor-plan facilities where the natural light can fill the space unobstructed.
Where is Your Business Located
In regards to daylighting, location is often key. The direction a building is facing, geographic obstructions, and the hours of sunlight an area receives can all drastically change the efficacy of daylighting in that building. In North America, south facing skylights can generate excess glare, while east or west facing skylights can generate more light in the morning or evening, respectively. Additionally, in some areas where the sun does not rise high above the horizon for long periods of time, more specialized daylighting systems must be used.
Possible Energy Savings
Provided your building design and the location are conducive to daylighting the next major step is to look at your potential energy savings. If you are experiencing increased lighting and HVAC costs, skylights may be able to help overcome this. Inefficient, artificial lighting systems waste a portion of the energy they consume by producing waste heat. This effect can drive up interior temperatures by placing additional strain on building cooling systems. Daylighting systems also have the potential to reduce lighting energy costs by as much as 80%, because they allow you to turn off artificial lighting for up to 10 hours per day. They also reduce your need for running your AC.
Choosing the Best System
The decision to select the best system can be difficult even if you decide daylighting is the best option for your business. There are a few key things to compare when selecting your system: the Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, U-value, unit cost, and space requirement. These will help you ensure the maximum energy cost reduction, along with the fastest return on investment.