Should I Choose a Venting Skylight or a Fixed Installation?

Installing a skylight is a great way to bring in extra natural light to accentuate your home and living space. Skylights have been used in all forms of buildings for centuries; however they are experiencing a resurgence in popularity amongst modern builders and for those who are remodeling their homes. One choice to make is whether to install a venting skylight or one which is fixed.

So which of the two should you choose?

First we should look at what each type of skylight is and the features and benefits they provide.

A vented skylight can be opened and closed to control air ventilation and circulation. As the name implies, a fixed

Bathroom Lighting Skylights

skylight is just that – it is a fixed window pane which cannot be opened or closed. In both instances, a skylight is relatively easy to install and to maintain. They do not incur an energy cost, though they can help to reduce power bills by making the most of natural illumination and by helping you to control temperature within the space over which they are fitted.

The principle reason for installing a skylight is to increase natural daylight. By bringing in natural light, a very different look and feel can be created for the living space. Depending on which direction the roof faces, differing effects can be created. A south facing roof with a skylight will provide excellent, all day light while a westerly facing skylight will provide additional light towards the afternoon for instance.

Photo by Konrad Lindenburg

Fixed skylights are the simplest and cheapest of the two variants. Having no working parts, they are relatively easy to install and there is no operation as such. They can provide a degree of additional ventilation if vents are fitted, though these may be difficult to control unless there is a remote venting system installed.

A venting skylight is also fairly simple to install, however they are more expensive because they have moving parts and are a more complicated construction than a fixed variant. It is typical for there to be either a manual or remote control system installed to allow for opening and closing operation. By opening the skylight you are able to increase the circulation of air within the living space. They are an excellent means of removing excessive heat from a building as hot air tends to rise and a vent provides a means of escape.

Skylights do have a mistaken reputation for leaking. Modern skylight installations have largely combated this problem,

Photo by Bess Sadler

though it is important that they are fitted by someone who is experienced in installing them.

In summary, a fixed skylight will typically cost around 40% of the cost of a vented skylight. They provide an excellent means of illumination, and in the instance of vented skylights they are an excellent means of controlling internal temperature. Optional extras usually include a remote control of the opening and closing mechanism and even a fixed skylight may be equipped to provide some additional ventilation, though not to as large an extent as a vented version.

There are many different types of skylights you can choose from including pyramid skylights, venting skylights, roof windows, deck mount, or curb mounted.

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