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Skylights Have a Bright Future

Russell Ibbotson says the new solar-powered skylight in his Hamilton home floods his kitchen with at least twice as much light as before it was installed three months ago.

“My wife and I decided to put the skylight right over the island, which is great for preparing meals and entertaining while we’re cooking. But we also have nice, even light going all over the room with no heavy shadows, plus our skylight opens to let fresh air circulate.”

Solar-powered Fresh Air skylights were introduced in Canada this spring by Velux. The Danish company, which is credited with inventing skylights in 1941, has its Canadian headquarters in Oakville and is so far the exclusive supplier of solar skylights in Canada.

Company president Nels Moxness points out that Canadians spend an estimated 90 per cent of their time indoors and that increasing the amount of daylight and fresh air in your home can have significant health benefits. As well, he explains, “The evolution to solar means no electrician or wiring work is required, so you can have all the benefits of a fully-venting skylight more easily and affordable than ever before.”

“If you don’t have an existing skylight, or you have an older model that doesn’t open,” continues Moxness, “this is a very easy way to create a more comfortable, energy-efficient home that can rely less on air conditioning and electrical lighting.”

Ibbotson adds that the advantages of solar-powered skylights, which capture available daylight to recharge a battery-powered control system, “start with the fact that no wiring is required, so there’s no need to have an electrician at the install. That alone can save you $300 to $500.”

Working with Velux as a building industry consultant gave Ibbotson the opportunity to get on the waiting list for the company’s solar skylight and to ultimately become the first homeowner in Canada to have a solar skylight installed.

Other customers, including Toronto’s Nicole Medcalf, are now enjoying skylights that and can be opened and closed from any part of their home with remote control units powered by a built-in photovoltaic panel. The skylights can also be programmed to open and close at specific times of day or for specific periods of time. Ibbotson says a popular choice among solar skylight customers is to program their skylights to open in time to have fresh air circulating when they wake up and prepare for the day.

Velux’s Fresh Air skylights, all of which come with insect screens, also have automatic sensors that can override pre-programming and shut whenever rain is detected. Another option is a range of programmable blinds to control light and solar heat. These include blackout blinds for bedrooms.

Solar-powered skylights can be retrofitted on any roof that slopes between 14 and 85 degrees. Depending on the model a homeowner chooses, Velux’s solar skylights can be installed for between $1,000 and $2,000.

By Terry Poulton

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