Advantages and Disadvantages of Skylights

Installing a skylight provides a source of natural light to rooms and areas of your home that are dark, stuffy, or small in size, making a home more functional. Benefits of skylights include more light, better ventilation, and the reduction of the accumulation of fungal spores and bacteria. Skylights also have been known to improve physical health and mental wellness. While there are distinct advantages to skylights, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered before adding a skylight to your home.

Increasing Natural Light

Advantages: Popular rooms for skylights are bathrooms, hallways, and any other space where there is no exterior window. In rainy and overcast climates such as we experience here in the Lower Mainland, a skylight can brighten any space where there might be limited natural light to begin with. Adding more natural light to places in your home that typically don’t get much or any can help reduce your electricity bills.

Disadvantages: More natural light in a bedroom or kitchen can be too much of a good thing. Just as with regular windows, too much sunlight streaming through a roof window can fade carpets and fabrics in the room including furniture and draperies.

More Heat and Better Ventilation

Advantages: Because skylights also let in heat along with the light, this can be a bonus during winter months. Raising the temperate inside a room or interior space takes away the chill and lowers energy bills.

If a homeowner chooses to install a type of skylight that opens, this can help air to circulate a small, cramped space, providing the room with better ventilation.

Disadvantages: The flip side is skylights can let heat escape, especially if the roof window hasn’t been installed correctly or when less expensive products and materials (insulation, sealant, flashing, etc.) were used. On rainy and overcast days, rooms with skylights can feel significantly cooler.

While solar heat in winter is definitely a plus, in summer it can heat up a room to the point where a homeowner spends more money on air conditioning.

Small Spaces appear Larger

Advantages: A popular design strategy when decorating a space such as a small family room or a tiny guest bedroom is to add a skylight or roof window. It can instantly make a room feel more spacious by giving the illusion of a wider ceiling, opening up the interior of a home to the night sky or an unobstructed view.

Disadvantages: It can be an expensive solution. If the room you want to install the roof window in isn’t a good fit for proper skylight positioning, the installation could negatively impact your energy and electricity bills.

Things to Consider before adding a Skylight

Adding a skylight means a major renovation to your roof. When deciding if skylights are the right choice for your home, consider the following:

  • Do you really need one? When rooms are already well-lit, adding a roof window could bring too much light/heat into the space.
  • When a skylight is installed solely for cosmetic purposes, the ROI (return on investment) is typically less than if the roof window has been added for both functionality and aesthetics.
  • What type of skylight do you want – fixed (doesn’t open), tube (plastic tube from ceiling of room to roof), or vented (does open)? The answer to this question will impact the method and price of the installation.
  • In which room(s) will it be installed?
  • Skylight positioning or proper placement is important so that the room receives the right amount of both natural light and heat (not too much, not too little).
  • Take into account the structure of your home – you will be cutting a hole, or holes if adding more than one, into a sealed/insulated roofing system,
  • Because it involves the roof, a skylight probably shouldn’t be a DIY project – have the skylight professionally installed to avoid problems in the future.