A skylight can serve many purposes – it can brighten a dull or dark room naturally by allowing the sun to shine in, it can enhance the design of a lifeless room, it can improve the room by providing it with a view and, to a certain extent, it can help regulate the temperature of a room. There are numerous types of skylights available on the market today, some designed to be used for a specific purpose, but most will fulfill multiple functions.
When choosing a skylight the first thing most people look at is the shape. If you just need a basic skylight then the square or rectangular one, which consists of one flat pane of glass, will probably be sufficient for your purposes. If you are looking for something more interesting there are dome-shaped, hexagon-shaped, arched, pyramid-shaped, polygon-shaped, or you can have a particular shape fabricated according to your own specifications; however, the price of the skylight goes up as the shape gets more complex.
The size of a skylight is another factor that must be considered. A larger one will allow more light to come in but it will also be more expensive to purchase and to have installed.
An additional consideration is the type of pane the skylight will have, the basic choices being glass vs. acrylic skylights. For glass, the materials can range from one pane of insulated glass, to multiple panes of glass sandwiched over one or more layers of argon or krypton gas. For acrylic panes, there is everything from basic fiber sheets to a wide variety of exotic polycarbonate materials.
Different materials have different advantages and disadvantages; for instance, glass skylights may have an insulating or a solar coating which increases their life span, but glass shatters relatively easily. Plastics on the other hand, while lacking these special coatings, are more durable and less expensive.
There is also a vast array of special options and features that should be considered. For example, you can purchase a ventilating skylight which can be opened to let air pass though that can be helpful if the room does not have good ventilation. In addition, there are bug screens for ventilating skylights to prevent insects from entering the house and there are curtains and shades available for all types of skylights to stop sunlight from entering when it is too hot.
Initially the large variety of skylight types and their “extras” may seem perplexing and somewhat overwhelming, but if you first decide what the main function of your skylight will be that will help you in selecting the best skylight for your particular situation.
One final thing, you do not have to buy a skylight from a “big box” store, there are special order skylights which can be manufactured to your own specifications.