The Do’s & Don'ts of Lighting Design When Adding Commercial Skylights

By Torrin Greathouse | February 25, 2015

When planning to add commercial skylights to a facility, there is an extensively long list of factors to consider before selecting and installing new devices. Working through all of the details involved in this planning can make it challenging to distinguish what is really important from what is not.

These are six important do’s and don’ts when installing commercial skylights in your facility.

Daylighting Do’s

Do Plan For Device Placement

It is extremely important to consider the geographical location of your building during the early stages of planning, because this will affect the efficiency of certain skylight placements in your design. Skylight placement has a huge effect on energy consumption: south facing skylights result in the highest heat gain in North America, driving up the cost of HVAC in a facility, while east and west facing devices will provide higher quality light during certain hours of the day, but will also contribute to heat gain; which creates a tradeoff between efficient lighting and heating, while still attempting to reduce expenses. This issue of heat gain can however, be planned around by using a number of different solutions, including anti-glare coatings and active daylighting devices designed to deal with these issues.

Do Optimize For Building Design

The building’s interior design can also have a large effect on the efficiency of a commercial skylight installation. Factors such as improper ceiling height and a high level of overhead obstruction can render a facility unfit for certain skylight designs. Because of this, it is important to make sure that the device you invest in is equipped to handle your facility’s unique design challenges. If the device installed fails to provide the light level your design requires, it effectively becomes a wasted investment.

Do Consider the Return on Investment

Building renovations are often an expensive, drawn out process, which heavily impact the bottom line, so it is important to know ahead of time how quickly you will profit from your investment. Each skylight has a potential return on investment (ROI) that measures how long it will take for the investment to pay itself off by saving money. While ROIs vary wildly, it is best to find a device that matches your space’s requirements, while providing the lowest ROI possible. Some devices on the market today can provide an ROI as low as 2.5–4 years.

Daylighting Don’ts

Don't Ignore the Limitations of Devices

Make sure to stay informed about the limitations of whatever devices you are installing and consider how these limitations may affect your design. Many passive skylights only provide light when the sun shines directly through them during peak hours of the day. If these hours match your facilities hours of operation, then this is not an issue. However, if they do not, your building will require expensive electric lighting in addition to the skylights you have installed.

Not only that, but different devices provide varying levels of light. The product you install and the number of units you will need will depend on the layout of your facility and the appropriate light level necessary for the work that is performed there. Having a light level too high or too low for the kind of work performed can actually harm employees’ eyes and decrease productivity.

Don't Install a Device Without Weather-Tested Certification

An issue many consumers have with traditional skylights is their tendency to collect condensation, often resulting in expensive water damage as well as elevated HVAC costs. Weather can prove to be extremely destructive to skylights. Many daylighting devices are not fully equipped to deal with the abuse caused by high winds, extreme cold, and heavy precipitation in the form of rain, hail, and snow. This makes it especially important to find a product that has been tested in harsh weather conditions without breaking down.

Don't Invest Without Research

Investing in a commercial skylight system without first doing research about the product is a frequent cause of unwise, wasteful spending. One must find out about the quality of light each skylight provides and learn how many hours of illumination it will provide per day, as well as what the practical effects of this installation will be in your facility. Some questions you should keep in mind include:

  1. Will the device require additional, electric lighting?

  2. What kind of ROI does the device offer?

  3. What kind of tests and certifications does the device come with?

  4. How long will this device last, and what kind of warranty is offered?

Figuring out details like this in advance will help ensure that you make the right decision for your facility.

Our Solution

Ciralight Global manufactures our own daylighting solution—the Ciralight SunTracker--a revolutionary sun tracking skylight that utilizes solar panels and GPS technology to follow the sun and reflect its light into the interior of a facility for 10+ hours a day. SunTrackers consumer zero electricity and have an ROI of 2.5-4 years. They are tested in the harshest conditions, and they come with a 30+ year lifecycle guarantee and 10 year manufacturer’s warranty.

To find out more about Ciralight SunTrackers, visit our website or contact our sales team today.


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