Jon Shooter is sales and marketing manager at the UK’s leading glass rooflight company, Glazing Vision. Here, he gives us the lowdown on how to choose the right rooflights for your housing development or refurbishment project.
Glass rooflights are not just functional day-lighting products but an architectural design feature with a host of benefits. Rooflights not only provide the most effective route to natural daylight whilst offering an extension to the size of the room, they can also be a source of ventilation, provide roof terrace access, or just be a design-led indulgence.

The addition of light, sky views and fresh air to living spaces can transform the quality of residential environments, but only if the correct product is selected.
Glazing Vision assist in helping the architect specify a rooflight by providing a full set of CAD details for their products and have posted them under the technical reference centre on the website, along with the appropriate specification to be dropped straight into a tender.

Glazing Vision have catered for many scenarios and developed standard rooflight systems wherever possible to reduce lead in times and offer a cost saving alternative solution for various applications, never compromising on the company ethos of minimum framework resulting in maximum daylight.

One of the first elements to consider when specifying a rooflight is how to achieve the optimum balance of light and heat transfer. The ingress of daylight must be controlled in accordance with seasonal ambient conditions, in order to ensure both comfort and energy efficiency. The best way to ensure maximum daylight, while controlling condensation, solar heat gain and internal heat loss, is to add double-glazing with a low emissive coating to your rooflight. The use of high performance glass will reduce glare and heat gain but also heighten the level of light transmission.

Flat roof versus pitched roof

When many people think of a rooflight, they normally think of small sky lights in loft conversions and do not consider the full range of possibilities. A rooflight can be fitted on to a flat or pitched roof. If you are looking to transform a flat roof, a pyramid-shaped rooflight can add a real architectural statement to a development, as well as letting in more light than a horizontal lying rooflight. However, if you are concerned about planning permission, a standard flat skylight, such as Glazing Vision’s Flushglaze, would be perfect.

Rooflights to fit a pitched roof space can add real impact to the interior of a development, as well as add value to a home. A ridge type rooflight – especially a sliding light – can add a dramatic backdrop to any roof space. The installation is ideal for a homeowner who, at a flick of a switch, wishes to open their roof and view the stars from their bed.

Ventilation, light, or access?

The function of your rooflight will also help you decide which is most suited to your development, and what opening mechanism is required, e.g. sliding or hinged.
If you are looking to brighten a dull room as part of a refurbishment project, you may want to go for a straightforward fixed light that simply brings added daylight directly into a room. Alternatively, if you require ventilation in a roof, the level of airflow may determine which product you choose, or what opening mechanism you require. Would the dwelling benefit from a hinged opening, or do you have the budget, or need, for manual or electrical sliding rooflight?

If you’re working on a state-of-the-art apartment, you may want to consider a remote-controlled sliding rooflight to create a sophisticated designer edge. Perhaps your development requires access to a roof garden? An opening rooflight, or free standing box rooflight gives the homeowner easy access to the roof; and is the perfect installation for developments in inner cities where space is at a premium.

Walk-on rooflights are also available for particular developments and can be produced with a frosted or non-slip finish, depending upon your specifications. All rooflights can be strengthened for increased safety and security.
Glass versus polycarbonate?

Glass is significantly more expensive, but does have many benefits. Optically, glass is superior to any roof glazing plastic and receives between 10-15% more light transmission than any other material. Although self-cleaning coatings can be added to any rooflight materials, glass has a naturally polished and smoother surface which retains less deposition on its face. Of course, the steeper the roof pitch the better the self-cleaning characteristics will be. Polycarbonate rooflights also suffer from increased noise pollution as the rain resonates on to the surface like peas on a drum, whereas glass offers a softer fall.