Maximizing the use of natural light is probably the answer to countering various problems. Neera Gulati explains how the new wave of tubular skylights enables both, homeowners and businesses, to enjoy the benefits of natural lighting techniques without the drawbacks.
Light is becoming a very important design element for home and office buildings. Studies show that when people live and work in a well lit environment, they are happier, healthier and more productive. Today, day lighting is an international trend. Natural light lifts spirits, makes spaces appear larger and lessens demands on electricity, an important factor in today’s energy – conscious world. Natural light also has been shown to reduce eyestrain, increase productivity and even decrease absenteeism in the workplace. People function better in light filled environments.
Lighting for all workers has long been a concern in many European countries. These ideas are making their ways westwards, reinforced by data showing that the rewards can extend beyond aesthetics to affect the company’s productivity and bottom line.
Response to light
A two year study of Canadian elementary schools found that classrooms exposed to natural light showed better attendance, better dental records, taller children increased concentration and improved test scores.
Natural light helps keep children calmer, which is important for moderately to severely disabled children. Autistic children in particular, are bothered by the buzz from fluorescent lights, their sensitive hearing assaulted and their mood upset, is what the survey says.
In south California’s Veteran’s hospital, patients exposed to daylight suffered less depression and recovered faster than those that did not. We all know that we feel better when we get our daily dose of sunshine.
According to some statistics, daylighting techniques can reduce lighting bills up by 75 percent. Energy costs are slashed because day lighting produces less heat than artificial light and requires less air conditioning.
Right use of light
Making good use of natural light cuts the need of artificial lighting and helps provide a feeling of well-being to office workers. Placing workstations within seven meter radius of a window will help to enhance the working environment, while the use of low level cabinets and shelving will allow natural light into the building to be maximised.
Placing workstations on bench style desks at right angles to external windowed walls maximises access to natural light for the majority of workers. Another benefit is that workers provided with an outdoor view exercise their eyes more, due to the adjustment in focal length when looking outside. This can reduce eye strain, a common complaint for workers looking at computer screens for long periods. Simply opening some windows and letting in a breath of fresh air can have the effect of clearing heads and providing a more dynamic workforce.
As people age, falling can become a very serious health issue, insufficient light in the environment being one of the leading causes. Aging eyes also require a lot more light in order to see, making standard lighting often inadequate. Less light/shadow patterning is often found with artificial light, whereas natural light introduced into a living environment can save the confused aging eye from stumble and fall.
Sunlight floods our planet during daylight hours, providing natural lighting, warmth and a clean-energy source for things like solar space heating, solar water heating and solar energy. Monitoring your personal light use habits and looking for opportunities to conserve this energy expenditure is a must, but it’s also important to consider some very basic facts about your lighting – type of bulb, type of fixture and type of power supply.
Certain rules if remembered may go a long way:
- Don’t forget to turn off lights when you leave the room, unless you plan to return to the lit area frequently within a short period of time, turning on and off can devour energy and decrease the life of a traditional bulb.
- If you are in a habit to leave your bathroom light on at night, consider installing a night light or a well placed, accessible touch lamp instead.
- It may seem to be a small measure, but keeping your lights and light fixtures sparkly clean will drastically improve their efficiency by allowing the light to shine unimpeded through a clear surface.
One that is gaining particular attention around the world is called tubular skylight. The original tubular skylight was invented in Australia by Solatube International Inc. more than a decade ago. Now produced in the United States and available through Canada, the solatube light offers an exciting alternative to the traditional box skylights that gained popularity in the 1970s’ and 1980s’. Box skylights were often associated with leaking, condensation, and heat gain/loss and drew as many critics as fans. The new wave of tubular skylights enables both homeowners and businesses to enjoy the benefits of natural lighting techniques without the drawbacks.
Tubular Daylight Device – TDD, is a day lighting system which is the most technologically advanced daylighting product available today. With breakthrough technology, design and materials, it provides an abundance of pure, clear, natural light for any interior space.
From sun up to sun down, daylight is captured by the roof top down; redirects low angle sunlight rejects overpowering summer midday sunlight, giving consistent light throughout the day. It delivers an abundance of clean white light into interior space. It allows you to customise your day lighting experience. The effect lens adjusts the light and offers choices to soften or warm light colours. The diffuser lens controls light diffusion within the room.
The TDD provides exceptional lighting. The light output is incredible, providing as much as light you can expect from a skylight many times its size.
It is cost effective. Tubular day lighting devices cost considerably less than other day lighting options such as windows and skylights, including both product and installation costs. Installing is fast, clean and easy. They require no structural reframing, tunnelling, dry walling or painting.
A professional can install the product in less than two hours. The compact and flexible design of TDDs allow them to be installed in just about any room, including rooms without direct roof access and smaller spaces where day lighting would usually not be an option. TDDs allow you to switch off electric lights during the day, which provides savings on energy bills and also reduces environmental pollution. It has been shown in several prominent studies that increasing daily exposure to natural light can enhance mental and physical well-being, boost concentration and energy levels. The TDDs block all UVB and UVC radiation, thus there is no possibility of clothing and furniture to fade.
The daylight dimmer easily controls the amount of light desired in any room from the convenience of a switch. The dimmer allows the natural lighting level of a room to be turned up or down on demand, because you don’t need 100% of the light all the time. The TDDs also provide good performance even on cloudy days.
The performance of tubular skylights varies widely between brands. Tests performed at the Alberta Research Council indicated that a 13 inch tubular skylight had equivalent light output of upto one 700 watt incandescent bulb in December and one 1,200- watt bulb in June. The tubular skylights even work in hot climates like Arizona and also cold climates where it snows.
A North London private hospital has cleverly converted unused interior space into 4 additional day care rooms, each illuminated by solatube 21-c day lighting systems from solalighting Ltd. The systems capture daylight at roof level and bounce it efficiently down to the rooms, where patients can enjoy the light or dim it by remote control, as per their choice.
The tubular natural lighting improves moods and combats depression. It boosts energy and increases productivity. It makes interior spaces appear larger and helps in rendering true colours. It reduces eyestrain, not forgetting that it conserves energy, bringing in the feeling of the outdoors inside. There is no need to make any structural change to the place.
It is very interesting to see this wonder drug called tubular skylights bring in natural light in our lives – especially places like offices, companies, hospitals and homes, where there are no sufficient windows and skylights. This is a clever way to bring in light naturally and saving our planet.