Daylights and Skylights: What is the Difference?

If your electricity bills are getting higher each day and you need ways to reduce them, using natural light to power your home is a great solution.

A popular source of natural light that is easy to harness is sunlight. And, two lighting solutions that require sunlight for illumination are daylights and skylights.

natural light coming in through skylights in sydney

You may confuse skylights with daylights thinking they are the same thing, but they are not.

In this article, we tell you the difference and give you a few advantages of each.


What are skylights?

Skylights are natural light transmitters you can install over a room to increase illumination. They are installed through cut openings over roofs and are set at a particular pitch to capture as much natural light as possible.

Using skylights in conjunction with vertical windows to illuminate a room is a cost-effective way of lighting it. You can also use them to vent hot air and let in cool, refreshing air during Summer days.

The skylight to floor ratio in your home determines how much light you can get from a skylight.

If a skylight measures 200 square feet and is located over a 2000 square foot room, its skylight to floor ratio is 7-9%.

The higher the skylight to floor ratio, the bigger the skylight, which means a larger area of your roof is cut open to install it.

And the bigger the skylight, the more heat you can expect. That may lead to increased air conditioning costs during hot summer months.

But you can prevent this by using solar blinds or low-emission coatings and tints to dim the light you get from a skylight.

Skylight installation in Sydney with a low Solar Heat Gain Coefficient will also help you to reduce heat transference.

Another option is to install a skylight with UV protection to filter out the dangerous ultraviolet rays that not only increase heat transference but are a danger to your health.

Sometimes skylight may transmit poorly colored lighting into your home mainly because of the material used to make the skylight tubing, diffuser, or dome.

For example, materials such as polycarbonate that yellow over time interfere with the quality of light transmitted from a skylight. Therefore, light from such installations may sometimes look greyish or yellowish.

Using insulated high-performance glazing such as double-paned glass will ensure your skylight transmits light clearly into your home.


What are daylights?

Daylights are natural light transmitters that direct sunlight into various parts of a building to reduce energy costs.

Also known as sun tubes or tubular daylights, they provide homeowners with flexibility concerning where to install natural lights.

Daylights are made up of domes measuring 10-14 inches in diameter. These domes are located on top of a building and are connected to a reflective tubing that directs sunlight to a lens at the ceiling level of a room. The light is then streamed into the room using a diffuser.

Tubular daylights are made up of long tubes that can reach any room in a building. These tubes make it easy to maneuver through wall cavities and closets when setting them up. Therefore, it can take as little as 2 hours to install a daylighting system.

Daylights have a skylight to floor ratio of less than 2 percent, ensuring a minimal area of your roof is cut open to install them. The reflective tubing in daylights can transfer light up to 9 meters into a multi-story building, minimizing light loss.

You can use them to extend natural light into any room in your house, something you cannot do with skylights.

However, daylights do not open like skylights. Therefore, they are not an ideal ventilating solution.

You can maximize the illumination you get from daylights by ensuring ceilings and walls are made of highly reflective material. You may also replace enclosed spaces with open designs to maximize light access.

Daylights should also be evenly distributed in groups deep into the interior of a building to allow for maximum illumination.

In this way, daylight systems incorporate different aspects to maximize the stream of natural light in a building and minimize any negative issues such as heat loss or gain.

You can include daylights in your electrical lighting system to minimize energy bills. Such an arrangement will help you to save electricity costs by 30-50 percent.

When using them, the electric lights are turned off or dimmed to ensure the building is lit using natural light.  If the natural light is not enough, the electrical lights will then take over.

However, if you want to install daylights, you need a window to wall area ratio that will produce the maximum amount of lighting while limiting heat loss or gain.

Windows in a daylight system should start at 7 ft 6 inches above the floor and have 50 – 75 percent visible light transmittance.

You can expect 100 % color rendition from tubular daylights due to the optical technology used to make them. That means you will get the same light in your home as what you see outside.

However, equipping daylights with control systems such as dimmers and blinds will help you automate their use and increase cost-efficiency.

Some examples are occupancy sensors that trigger the lights to come on whenever a room is occupied. These sensors can reduce energy costs by 10 -50 percent.

Timers are another option. They are set to turn daylights on at specific times using a set schedule. For example, during opening hours of a business.

You can install daylights in almost any climate and over any facility. They are ideal for high-traffic buildings such as restaurants, libraries, hospitals, and offices. Their ability to provide electricity savings makes them a viable lighting solution for such facilities.

Daylights are also beneficial to the environment as they help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower fossil fuel depletion. For that reason, you may get tax credits for installing them in your home or office.


A comparison between daylights and skylights

Daylights cost up to $1000 to install, while skylight may cost up to $ 2000.

Skylights cost more to install than daylights because they require more materials and invasive procedures.

Unlike skylights, daylights do not require framing; therefore, you can locate them anywhere.

They run around obstructions using flexible tubing and elbow joints and are ideal where indirect lighting is needed, such as laundry rooms, stairways, and closets.

Daylights do not have variations in natural light transmittance. They are more effective at lighting rooms than skylights because you can program them to provide consistent lighting regardless of the weather.

Skylights and daylights can both cause glare that will damage your furnishings, upholstery, and wall treatments such as wallpaper.

While skylights are associated with leaks, daylight do not have this problem. They are energy-star rated and will stream the maximum amount of light into your home while minimizing solar heat gain.


Last word

So what do install in your home, a daylight or a skylight? Well, skylights and daylights are both effective natural lighting options you can use in your home. What you pick will be determined by your needs.

Whether you choose a skylight or daylight, the most important thing is to hire a professional installer to put it up for you.

Once your lighting solution is installed, any benefits you get from it will depend on proper operation and maintenance.



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