Advantages of Plastic Skylights - Installation and Insulation

August 10, 2010

Skylights can transform a gloomy space into your home into a radiant, warm, useful room where families love to gather. There are several residential styles to fit the part of your home where these new windows are most needed. And with a choice of materials, you can find the right price within your remodeling budget.

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If you have a dark kitchen, claustrophobic bathroom, or gloomy hallway, a new skylight can completely transform the dismal mood into one of joyous openness. Today's modern plastic skylights come in fiberglass, acrylic, and polycarbonate plastic. White and transparent surfaces are common for plastic skylights, although you'll find an assortment of color options. Many homeowners prefer white skylights for their ability to cast soft, dappled light into your home without sharp edges of glare. Among the plastic skylight options, some people prefer the durability of polycarbonate models over the ultraviolet protection offered by new windows made of acrylic.

If you're comparing glass and acrylic, fixed and tubular, or flat and dome skylights, get bids from more than one window contractor and ask for a detailed explanation of which model is best for the results you're after. Ventilating skylights help with the flow of air into your home, which can be a boon in warm, stifling climates.

While all skylights can be treated with energy saving, UV shielding coatings, glass skylights can be ordered with more than one pane, with insulation between the layers. If energy costs are part of the equation in your evaluating new windows, ENERGY STAR provides performance criteria for skylights in terms of U-Factor and Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) ratings that are best for your region of the country.

Skylights with a SHGC rating of .40 and lower are appropriate for homes in the North or North Central United States, while windows in South Central and southern states are more effective with a .30 SHGC rating or lower. U-Factors, which measure resistance to heat flow and insulating qualities, should be .70 or lower in the South, while .55 or lower in the northern states.

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