Fiberglass Skylights

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Pros & Cons of Fiberglass Skylights

Fiberglass skylights are made with FRP, or fiber-reinforced polymers. All fiberglass constructed skylights require maintenance. Cleaning the skylights periodically is helpful in removing pollution and light-blocking dirt from the exterior surface.

Fiberglass skylights have an exterior gelcoat that helps reduce damage from UV rays, but this wears away over time. It depends upon the manufacturer and even when it was manufactured to determine how often the fiberglass gelcoat needs replaced or re-coated. This is critical to fiberglass skylight care, as it prevents fiberbloom, which leads to water infiltration, discoloration, bacterial infection and unpleasant odors.

Do you already have fiberbloom? Read more here.

Fiberglass skylights are commonly used on commercial buildings because they are much more cost-effective than glass. They also provide diffused light, which reduces heat gain, glare and other discomforts usually caused by glass glazing.

Polycarbonate is another option to consider. Like fiberglass, it is much more cost-effective than glass glazing, and provides improved energy efficiency over both glass and fiberglass glazing. It also has reduced maintenance costs, and doesn’t need UV gel coats.

We offer free consultations to help you choose the best product for your building or project. Contact us so we can help solve your daylighting or glazing issues today!

Daylighting Always A Compromise

Daylighting is always a compromise. How much light do you need vs. how much solar heat gain can you accept.

When considering a daylighting system there are three main performance measures.

  1. Light Transmission
  2. U Factor
  3. SHGC

The more light transmission you require will result in more solar heat gain. Reducing light transmission to reduce solar heat gain is not always the best trade off. A daylighting model may be necessary to determine the appropriate light level.

CPI LogoIn our research and experience, the best product for currently on the market is UniQuad by CPI Daylighting. UniQuad has the best light transmission percentage to solar heat gain in the industry. Coupled with Skylight Specialists Inc, they can also provide assistance with daylight modeling and studies.

UniQuad vs. Non-Removable Skin Systems

Not all daylighting is created equal! Glass, fiberglass and other non-removable building envelopes can’t compete with the UniQuad system.

Daylighting Technology Visible Light Transmission NFRC-100 Center of Glass U-Value
Glass (Clear/Dbl Glazed, 90% Argon Filled) 79% 0.48
FRP (Crystal/Crystal w/batt insulation) 30% 0.29
UniQuad (Clear Matte/Clear Matte, Air Filled) 50% 0.23

The UniQuad system is the best of both worlds – it will give you up to 50% LT with a U-Value of 0.2

Daylighting and the Energy Codes

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Better Performance Required

Throughout the US the energy codes are being rewritten. As energy demands increase, The US Dept. of Energy is requiring higher and better performance from buildings. But the interesting thing to note is that the US Dept. of Energy is requiring more daylighting at the same time. This can be a challenge to increase the amount of daylighting while at the same time increasing the energy performance of the building.

energy-codesToday, any new buildings over 10,000 square feet are required to have daylight space.

It is critical that energy codes are followed. Not following the code or ignoring NFRC can result in loss of LEED points.

Skylight Safety

Take Rooftop and Skylight Safety Seriously

Fall-Protection-SmallWe’re often told of the hazards of being on a roof and fall protection, but some of the guidelines can seem a bit over-cautious. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most workers feel fit and healthy enough to not heed some fall protection advice. “I have good balance.” Or “I’m young a healthy, a fall won’t hurt me.” Both are quite far from the truth. Everyone has good balance until that one time they don’t, from a head rush, or a burst of wind, or a small slip on a screw or nail. And fall injury’s don’t work the same as others. While your health or youth might make recovery better, that’s only if you survive the fall. A fall of just 6 feet has the ability to cause a fatal head injury. Even that statement seems outlandish, how could a fall from that short of distance hurt anyone, let alone kill someone? It’s just that are bodies are not designed to take impacts from falls, we don’t have any shock absorption in our head or necks, making even small falls potentially deadly.

Routes of travel that take you past skylights or near the edge of the roof have now exposed you to fall hazards. This is not an empty warning.

Fall-protection-hierarchySkylight Openings are Dangerous on Job Sites

Recently a 39-year-old worker fell to his death on a job site through a skylight opening. The contractor was cited, as the death was considered preventable. Don’t put your workers at risk. Make sure they take safety serious and take the necessary precautions.

Skylights are Even More Dangerous

broken-skylight-fallen-throughNot only are skylight openings dangerous on job sites, skylights themselves are even more dangerous. Many assume the glazing is structurally sound, and can support their weight if a fall or slip were to happen. This is rarely the case. Most glazing is designed only for impact resistance from small hail. The fall of an average human is way more than the skylight can support. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because the opening is covered, it is safe. Take precautions and stay healthy and alive!

LEED and Daylighting

Earn LEED Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum

Today, conserving energy is more important than ever, both to help reduce the environmental impact and to help save the building owner money on operations.

LEED and Daylighting

Daylighting is one of the easiest ways to get LEED points for your project. Most of the points come from the Optimize Energy Performance Credit category. Heating and cooling are a large cost of daily operations and daylighting can play an integral role in optimizing energy performance. With ample and well placed natural lighting, using skylights or wall lights, you can reduce the need for artifical lighting drastically. With the proper type of daylighting, making sure it is well insulated and highly efficient, you can save money on having to heat or cool your building from solar heat gain or heat loss.

LEED Logo ProjectLEED in Daylighting Design

When designing a building, the LEED EQ Credit 8.1 for Daylighting and Views can be determined using software. A CG 3D model of the building is built, input and run through a daylighting simulation to ensure that the building meets LEED version 4 standards. This is currently set to a minimum requirement of 75% of the occupied area falling within the 25-500 foot-candle range during typical working hours.

To achieve the maximum LEED credits the architect must consider the daylighting requirements very early in their process. Skylight Specialists works to aid all architects in this process, we can provide information, experiential suggestions, and even run the daylighting study for the architect.