Skylights are a great way to allow natural daylight into buildings. As anyone who has spent any time beneath an unshaded skylight can attest, however, the amount of solar radiation that comes through horizontal and inclined glazing is much greater than from vertical facades, and can cause significant heat gain issues.

There are several ways to retain the usefulness of a skylight, while mitigating the tendency of such openings to turn into what feels like a heat ray. Here are four solutions Draper recommends:

Skylight shades
Natural light makes workers more productive and can help reduce electrical costs, but control of solar heat gain promotes a more comfortable work environment, protecting staff and furnishings. Motorized retractable shades allow you to get the most out of a skylight, while providing heat and glare protection when necessary. They can be deployed when required and retracted when there is no sun on the glazing. Click here to see Draper’s skylight shading solutions.

Unlike retractable shades, louvers remain in place at all times. They can be mounted outside the window, stopping sunlight before it hits the glazing for a more efficient solution. Rotating the louvers, also called slats, open and closed in fine increments provides precise light control in venues such as galleries or museums. Louver systems can be installed on any type of glazing—horizontal, vertical, or inclined. They can also address almost any shape of glazing, including rectangular, circular, and trapezoidal openings. Click here to learn more about Draper’s FlexLouver Rack Arm system.

Draper Topspin.

Designed for interior or exterior use, TopSpin® is made up of a series of retractable fabric panels to prove a retractable solution over large expanses of glazing. When used as a sun shade, TopSpin® allows a view-through to the outside, while providing controlled interior lighting to ensure a more comfortable environment. Click here to learn more.

Decorative fabric elements
Solar control in large interior public spaces may require a less responsive solution, but comfort is still important. Decorative fabric elements provide glare control, while also contributing to the aesthetic appeal of the space. These can take the form of fixed elements, such as tensioned fabric panels called kites, or motorized sail shades. Sail shades are similar to standard motorized roller shades, but use counterweights to provide tension. With sail shades, a sculptural effect can be achieved with the amount of curvature of each panel being dependent on the size of the counterweight.

Many different approaches can be taken to shading a skylight. Some of the options blend in with the building architecture, whereas others can have a significant visual impact and become an important element of the building’s design. In all cases, properly designed skylight shading systems can make an important contribution to building performance, controlling both heat gain and natural daylight.

For more information, click here to download a free white paper on skylight shading.

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