Writer // Neil Lucas
While watching a television show touring magnificent California mega-mansions, I noticed a common refrain from each new visitor touring the house. It went something like this, “I love the natural light in this house.” Not once did they say, “This would be a great house if it was darker and a bit more cave-like.”
Most of us living in Indiana don’t have the luxury of having houses with retractable walls of glass as they do in California. However, now there is a simple and affordable way to add natural light to our Midwestern homes: skylights.
Granted, skylights are not a new concept. They were very popular in the late 1970s and early ‘80s with the explosion of the open floor concept. We all remember the old skylights leaking frequently or the plastic covering becoming so opaque that after a few years, there was very little light coming through. Fortunately, modern technology has greatly improved skylights.
Recently, we spoke with Gabe Robinson, the owner of Indiana Skylights. Robinson began by working for his father’s chimney repair business, a company that has been operating locally for nearly 40 years with nearly 10 employees. The expansion into the skylight business seemed a natural progression after so many customers would ask, “While you’re up on the roof fixing my chimney, can you look at the skylight?”
Robinson demands the same high level of dedication to customer service for Indiana Skylights that they have instilled in the chimney repair business for so many years. Indiana Skylights only offers skylights manufactured by Natural Light Energy Systems, one of the highest quality manufacturers in the industry. Natural Light Energy Systems is a company locally owned by a Carmel resident with distribution throughout the U.S.
Robinson explained there have been significant improvements in the design and materials being used to make the traditional “flat” skylights. These skylights can be made with insulated glass that has a 20-year warranty or from a polycarbonate that has a 10-year warranty. The insulated glass models offer accessories such as remote controlled motorized drives.
Robinson says the newest development in skylights is tubular skylights. With these skylights, the light travels through a small one-piece
dome-shaped flashing kit that sits on the roof. A light tube that looks like an HVAC pipe runs through the attic down to the ceiling of the room you want lit. The interior of the light pipes looks as if a mirror has been wrapped around the inside of the tube.
They are highly reflective and collect the sun’s rays without transferring the sun’s heat. The units offered by Indiana Skylights have 98 percent reflectivity, which is by far the most efficient day-lighting system, even when the sun is low on the horizon. At the end of the light tube is an unobtrusive light diffuser that sits flush on the ceiling.
One of the great things about tubular skylights is they can be used in areas where the installation of a window is not practical, such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. Installation by Indiana Skylights typically takes less than a couple of hours. They come in different sizes: 10”, 13” and 18”, depending on the size of the area you want to illuminate with natural light.
Tubular skylights are very affordable, running on average from $650-$1,100 complete. Naturally, cost varies depending on the size of the tubular skylight and the length of light pipe required. With a 25-year warranty, they are a great investment for your home. If you’re thinking of installing a tubular skylight in a bathroom, Indiana Skylights offers tubular skylights that incorporate an electrical light and a venting kit.
According to Robinson, skylights and, in particular, tubular skylights are also gaining popularity for commercial properties. More companies and even entire industries are discovering the obvious cost savings and the worker-related benefits of day-lighting. On those cold and dreary days in January in Indiana, who wouldn’t prefer to work in a space that is bathed in natural light?
Research has shown additional benefits of work areas lit by natural light: morale and productivity increases, and eyestrain and workers comp injuries decrease. As mentioned earlier, tubular skylights are relatively inexpensive, easy to install and can improve the look and feel of retail space, schools, offices, warehouses and manufacturing facilities. They can be installed on flat roofs or pitched roofs and on drywall or drop ceilings. The commercial units are larger than the residential units with a 21” diameter that will cover 700 sq. ft.
Being a moderately skilled DIYer, when Robinson showed me the parts of the tubular skylight, I immediately thought installing one of these doesn’t look too difficult. However, Robinson warned that installing tubular skylights requires more technical knowledge than you might assume. He shared several horror stories of instances where he received calls from folks that tried to install the skylights themselves. He went to one DIY job where the homeowner had cut a hole in his roof the size of a bicycle!
For most of us, moving to a California mega-mansion built with glass walls is not an option. So, before the dreary Indiana winter weather starts to get you down, call Indiana Skylights to replace your existing skylights or have them install some new skylights in your home or office. Indiana Skylights has a very affordable option that will turn your home or workspace into the light and airy environment we all enjoy.