Inspiration from above

Tony Isaac of Brett Martin Daylight Systems delves into the key recent trends in rooflights, from ‘designability’ to ensuring safety for users:

The desire for the latest products is not uncommon in the world of rooflights, and the urge for sleek, modern-looking products is something that rooflight manufacturers seek to serve. This is particularly the case when it comes to the choice of glazing, with many different options, colours and features available, from polycarbonate to GRP.

The benefits of daylighting have been reported widely for many years, particularly in the world of health and education. Glass has become prominent within today’s designs, and has become a driver across the rooflight industry. Many resulting options exist, from flat glass rooflights, to curved glass, mono pitches, dual pitches and atria.

Designability

When glass is combined with a quality rooflight system it can look exceptional, be energy efficient, and offer a host of additional features and benefits. From stunning architectural installations snaking their way across a roof to huge atria systems, which catch your eye the moment you are beneath them; to the more commonplace flat glass, and modular systems available, glass rooflights play a major part in contemporary architecture.

Designed to meet a myriad of project requirements, glass rooflights offer versatility so it’s imperative that specifiers look at the options available to assess the most appropriate product for a project. Product credentials to look out for include thermally broken frames, U-values, acoustic performance and even self-cleaning glass.

Glass rooflights may look the same to the untrained eye but there can be stark differences between the cost of these units. There is usually a good reason for this and more often than not, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find significant differences in the glazing specification, which makes big differences to both thermal performance and safety. The most economic solution is often not the best, or as efficient as you first thought.

Safety first

When trying to find the best product at the best price, it’s important to take time to understand that rooflights should always be specified to consider the safety of both building users beneath the rooflights, and anyone above who may inadvertently step and fall onto the rooflight.

Industry guidance states that all glass rooflights should have a laminated inner pane to minimise risk of any glass falling if the inner pane should break, even though BS5516 does set out certain circumstances when a toughened inner pane can be used, subject to satisfactory risk assessment.

In addition to using a laminated inner pane to protect building users, rooflights can be specified and designed to be non-fragile in accordance with CWCT Technical Note 92, and ACR001. This is intended to ensure the safety of anyone on the roof in the vicinity of the rooflight and to ensure that anyone accidentally walking or falling onto the rooflight will not fall through, even if the glass is broken or the rooflight is damaged. The preferred specification should always be for rooflights which are both non-fragile and which have a laminated inner pane, protecting both anyone beneath the rooflight and anyone on the roof in the vicinity of the rooflight.

Across the industry, there is now an infinite variety of rooflight shapes, sizes and glazing options to suit flat, pitched and curved roof applications, whether it is a small dome-light in a domestic kitchen or polycarbonate and GRP sheeting used in stadium canopy applications.

To summarise, choose a rooflight manufacturer that provides a great looking product at a reasonable price and one that can back up and support their claims of performance and service. The time required is far outweighed by the safety and longevity benefits of a great product.

Tony Isaac is the national sales manager, commercial rooflights at Brett Martin Daylight Systems