Can Your Facility Benefit from Solar Tracking Skylights?
By Jeff Brain | September 22, 2016
Solar tracking skylights are a unique natural lighting solution which actively reflects sunlight down into a building, unlike most skylights which act as horizontal buildings in the roof of a building. These skylights combine solar power and GPS technology to follow the sun through the sky, providing light for longer hours than traditional skylights. While a solar tracking system is not a perfect fit for every facility, they do offer a range of benefits over traditional skylights. Here are just a few of the ways your facility can benefit from them.
Longer Hours of Light
Because traditional skylights only admit light into the building when it shines directly through them, they are extremely limited in the hours of light they can provide and the quality of that light. Solar tracking skylights on the other hand reflect sunlight directly downward into the building, allowing them to deliver 10+ hours of light per day, as opposed to the 4-6 traditional skylights offer. This light is also more consistent due to diffuser lenses that help spread the abundant light throughout a space.
Minimize Heat Transfer
An issue that plagues many traditional skylights is that they allow a high level of heat gain and loss. In comparison, the double paned design of solar tracking systems creates a buffer zone, minimizing this. One study found that incorporating this kind of well-insulated daylighting can reduce a facility’s HVAC costs by 25% per-square-foot.
Improve Weather Protection
Many outdated skylights lacked proper weatherproofing, either from poor design or shoddy insulation. This can result in leaking and ice dams, both of which can cause fairly severe structural damage. They also have a tendency to break the building envelope, increasing HVAC costs. Most solar tracking skylights, on the other hand, are designed and tested for high weather resistance. If you are considering one of these systems, the manufacturer should be able to provide you with documentation of their system’s certifications.
Lower Labor Costs
Two major sinks for labor costs in facilities are presenteeism, the act of employees coming to work when sick, and paid time off. One way in which well-integrated solar tracking skylights can reduce this is by improving human health. Exposure to natural light has been shown to aid in the prevention of multiple conditions including insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, and multiple sclerosis. The consistent, diffused light these skylights provide also helps to improve workplace productivity by 6-16%.
Designed for Large Facilities
One major advantage these skylights have over others for some applications is that they were designed with spacious facilities in mind. Through the use of their reflective mirror array and diffuser lenses, these skylights are able to provide abundant light while only taking up 1-2% of your roof space. Traditional skylights require 7-10% coverage to provide the same level of light. This means less room for HVAC equipment or other sustainability measures such as solar panel and rainwater storage.