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bennelson 12-19-14 06:03 PM

Skylight Exterior Covers to save on summer A/C costs
Does anyone here have experience using exterior covers on their skylights to save on summer heat gain?

I have two skylights on my house - one quite large one in our kitchen, and another in our upstairs bedroom. The kitchen one goes right into our main living area, and of course the upstairs is always very hot in the summer.

I LOVE my skylights. Unfortunately, the ridge of my house runs north/south, and both skylights are on west side of the roof - pretty much the WORST place for heat gain in the summer.

I'm interested in the idea of covering both skylights (from the outside) in the summer, probably with a translucent instead of opaque material, so I still get at least a little diffuse light.

Does anyone have experience with exterior skylight covers?

Alternatively, I might also like to try an interior diffuser on our large kitchen skylight in the summer. It would bounce SOME heat/light back out, but at least we wouldn't have the giant summer death ray any more! I was thinking perhaps a piece of plexiglass mounted parallel to the ceiling that was sprayed with "Bathroom Privacy Frosted Glass" spray.

stevehull 12-20-14 05:10 AM

An interior diffuser will just heat up and will not reflect much heat out. Shade cloth is the secret! I use these on my outside livestock pavilions to provide shade, but allow some light through. You can get them with blockages from 25-90%.

Not expensive and the fabric lasts a long time.

Another alternative is to apply a reflective firm to the window. But again, if the film is on the inside, then it heats up and then generates heat.

A third alternative is the slotted mesh metal. This is a material with stamped tiny fins oriented at about 45 degrees. You put this in to block the solar parahelion at about 11 am - 2 pm. Think of a gazebo with vertical 2x12s that are oriented to block the peak solar intrusion at noon. Mesh is on the outside of the window.


redneck 12-20-14 11:34 AM



I LOVE my skylights. Unfortunately, the ridge of my house runs north/south, and both skylights are on west side of the roof - pretty much the WORST place for heat gain in the summer.
I have the same problem and this is what I'm planning to do.

I'm going to build a 1x4 or 1x6 frame that is a 1/2" larger than the skylight. Then cover the frame with sun screen fabric and set it over the sky light.

A couple of steel or aluminum "L" brackets screwed down to the roof should hold it in place in case of a severe storm.

Then in the fall, I'll just take them down and store them for the winter.


bennelson 12-20-14 12:32 PM

Redneck, that sounds like a good and simple solution. A plain wood frame sounds like a good way to make everything as easy as possible.

Is there a type of shade cloth in particular that I would want to use?
I've never used any in gardening before. The only material that I'm really familiar with is dark-colored fiberglass window screen.

What about color? I think that black would blend in best with my skylights, but would it also be absorbing more heat that would be pressed against the outside of the glass? I don't think that color would matter in terms of how much light gets into the house, as the screen is simply physically blocking the light.

redneck 12-20-14 02:29 PM


I don't think color matters either as it is outside and not inside. I'm going to use black.

Lowes and Home depot both sell window screen material and or shade cloth with different light blocking abilities. It would all boil down to as how dark you want it.

I plan on keeping the screen off the glass at least 1-2" and painting the frames to match the roof.

Also, maybe add some large drain holes at the bottom of the frame to allow rain water a way to escape might be a good idea as if water were to back up, it could cause a water leak issue with the skylight. Then just cover those holes with some more screen material so the bugs can't get in easily.



bennelson 12-21-14 10:59 AM

I was just reading another thread about some DIY storm windows, which mentioned reusing the existing screens.

I noticed that on my windows, the screens are on the outside - and the outside is where you want to block heat from coming in.

My house is poorly oriented to the sun, so that there is no roof overhang on the south side of the house, where we have three bedroom windows.

If adding shade-cloth to the outside of skylights can help keep my house cooler, wouldn't adding shade-cloth to my existing window screens help as well? (I know that the sun is high in the sky in the summer, and that's why the solar gain is so bad through the skylights - it should be much less, but still gain, because the windows are vertical)

I think shade-cloth could be basically wrapped around the screen frame and popped into place. It could actually look pretty stock.

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