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Finding the right kind of natural light for your project

Natural light plays a large role in building design – with the right balance, spaces can appear larger, reducing the need for costly artificial light while improving occupants’ comfort levels.

Having been established for 20 years, Xtralite has seen its products being specified for a diverse range of applications by a large number of architects and designers.

Over the past two decades, the level of importance placed on bringing natural light indoors has increased, but there are a number of considerations to be made.

Consider materials

In recent years, metal and glass have become the go-to materials for many architects, giving the impression of space and modernity without the need for a large footprint.

“Through the specification of diffused glazing, upkeep levels can be greatly reduced, as the surface masks the appearance of contaminants”

The benefits of using these materials extends beyond aesthetics: natural light can improve productivity and focus in education and office environments, while driving down bills by supplementing electric lighting.

The use of clear glazing provides direct light and sky views, but this comes at the cost of both time and effort. As you might expect, pollutants, bird activity and general dirt build-up are all greatly detrimental to the performance and appearance of clear glazing.

Important role of lighting

Rooflights can be difficult to access, often requiring trained cleaning professionals to keep them at their best and the costs of regular cleaning can build up over time, even in the case of ‘self-cleaning’ glass.

In reality, even self-cleaning surfaces require a level of maintenance. They also have to be installed at an angle greater than 10 degrees to ensure adequate water run-down.

Through the specification of diffused glazing, upkeep levels can be greatly reduced, as the surface masks the appearance of contaminants. Futhermore, the benefits are not just limited to cutting costs.

By spreading rays over a wider distance, diffused glazing creates a softer quality of light, which can be of great importance in spaces such as swimming pools, where glare should be kept to a minimum.

Whether a space calls for direct sunlight and views of the occasionally blue British skies, or the softer, more widespread light provided by low-maintenance diffused glazing, having the experience and expertise of a rooflight manufacturer on hand from the initial design stages can ensure the ideal solution for any project, both at first glance and 20 years down the line.

Richard Lowe is technical services manager at Xtralite (Rooflights)

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