What are the benefits of transparent roofing? Is it suitable for Indian homes?

Sunita Vellapally Sunita Vellapally
Mobius Home, Architecture Continuous Architecture Continuous Modern living room
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Natural light in the interiors makes a home look beautiful, but not every design allows for sunlight to bathe every room in the house. For those who are looking for ways to add brightness to the interiors without resorting to artificial illumination sources, transparent roofing is the answer. Instead of traditional roofing materials such as clay tiles or concrete, one can install glass, polycarbonate or other clear material for the roof tiles to invite natural light into the interiors. What’s more, transparent roofing solutions also provide views of the starlit sky at night without having to venture outdoors!

While skylights and clear roofs are gaining popularity, many homeowners wonder whether it is suitable for the Indian conditions, especially since unlike European countries where sunlight is a scarcity during certain months, most cities in India get ample sunlight throughout the year. Additionally, there are questions such as what type of material is ideal for transparent roofing in Indian homes. We present all the answers, including the different materials, the pros and cons as well as the pricing of types of transparent roofing materials.

What are the pros and cons of using transparent roofing for the home?

Pros

· It increases the natural light and ventilation indoors.

· A transparent roof reduces the dependence on artificial lighting in the room.

· It’s an eco-friendly alternative compared to air-conditioning to regulate the temperature in the house.

· It improves the aesthetics of a room.

Cons

· Although it helps with ventilation, one cannot control the temperature or light that comes in through skylights.

· Unless the right type of material is used, it can cause the interiors to overheat in summer, thereby increasing the dependence on air-conditioning.

· Skylights need to be cleaned regularly to keep them dust-free and clean.

· If it isn’t installed properly, transparent roofing brings with it the risk of leakage when it rains.

Get ideas on how to use skylights for ventilation and natural lighting.

What are the key factors to consider when designing rooms with transparent roofing?

Sajeev kumar and family's Residence at Girugambakkam, Murali architects Murali architects Modern corridor, hallway & stairs Leaf,Wood,Window,Fixture,Interior design,Building,Material property,Tints and shades,Facade,Flooring
Murali architects

Sajeev kumar and family's Residence at Girugambakkam

Murali architects

Given the Indian climatic conditions, the following points should be kept in mind when designing rooms with skylights:

1. Since sunlight entering through the transparent roof material can heat up the room more than required in the summer months, for a fixed skylight, it’s vital to choose a glass sheet that has low emissivity. While mirrored glass might seem an option to keep the interiors cool by reflecting the sun’s rays, it will make the rooms cold in the winter months as it won’t benefit from the warmth of the sun. Laminated safety glass is the best type of glass for skylights as it will secure the home from intrusion.

2. Another option for fixed glass roofs is installing fabric shades to control the amount of light that enters the room and to protect it from getting overheated.

3. Ideally, and if the design permits it, the transparent roofing should be openable so that it can let the trapped heat out and cool down the interiors.

It’s advisable to consult an interior architect before deciding where to install a skylight in the home so that it can enhance the cross ventilation and conserve the energy spent on keeping the interiors cool.

What are the different types of materials that can be used for transparent roofing?

There are several clear and opaque materials that one can consider for skylights and transparent roofs. We’ve outlined them below, along with their approximate prices.

Glass as a transparent roofing solution

Most skylights are made from tempered or laminated glass. The difference between the two is that tempered glass is heat-strengthened to make it strong. However, the downside is that if it breaks, it shatters into hundreds of tiny pieces. On the other hand, laminated glass has an inner layer of plastic, which prevents it from shattering into tiny pieces when it breaks. It has the additional benefit of blocking out ultraviolet rays to prevent the fading of the finishes in the interiors. Whichever type of glass one chooses, it’s essential to ensure that it has Low-E (low emissivity) properties to provide energy efficiency and to control the heat.

In general, glass for skylights can range from INR 450 to INR 800 per square feet, depending on the type used.

Polycarbonate roofing

Glass panels are an expensive option for skylights, which is the reason that polycarbonate is a popular material for transparent roofs. Besides being extremely lightweight, this material is easy to work with and is clear, unlike certain other opaque or translucent materials. It’s also a relatively environment friendly material as less energy is spent in manufacturing it compared to other transparent roofing materials. It provides good insulation and is fire-resistant up to 580C.

The cost of polycarbonate roofing sheets can vary from INR 45 to INR 300 per square feet depending on the structure and its properties.

Acrylic for transparent roofing

Like polycarbonate, acrylic is another type of plastic sheet for roof that is widely used. However, the two materials have several differences. Plexiglass roof panels are nothing but acrylic panels that are marketed under a brand name. Similarly, acrylic is also referred to as Perspex, Lucite and Vitroflex, among other brand names, but they are essentially the same material. While both polycarbonate and acrylic panels are clear, the former has the advantage of being stronger and has higher impact resistance than acrylic. The basic choice one needs to make is in terms of the clarity versus durability. For a clear panel, acrylic is the better option, whereas if one is looking for a material that is impact-resistant, then polycarbonate is the ideal solution.

Acrylic is the cheapest option for a transparent roofing sheet as its price starts from INR 35 per square feet.

Find out how to install a skylight in your home.

What are the ideal designs for transparent roofing?

ANWAR SALEEM RESIDENCE, Muraliarchitects Muraliarchitects
Muraliarchitects

ANWAR SALEEM RESIDENCE

Muraliarchitects

Skylights can be installed in several designs to suit the style of the house. The most commonly seen designs are:

Fixed skylights

This type of design is commonly seen in a skylight for kitchens, where the primary need is to bring more natural light to brighten up the area. Since it cannot be opened, it doesn’t help with controlling the ventilation. Usually, a fixed skylight is made of glass.

Ventilated skylights

Unlike fixed skylights, these can be opened to flush out hot air from the room. They are ideal for bathrooms or other areas where one needs to control the temperature without using the air-conditioning.

Mr & Mrs Pannerselvam's Residence, Muraliarchitects Muraliarchitects Modern balcony, veranda & terrace
Muraliarchitects

Mr & Mrs Pannerselvam's Residence

Muraliarchitects

Pyramid skylights

These can be used in areas such as living rooms or sun rooms to optimise the natural light in the indoors. The pyramid structure ensures that sunlight enters the room from different angles throughout the day.

Dome or Vaulted skylights

These structures are ideal for semi-outdoor areas, such as a terrace or patio. They can also be used in passageways. They protect the area from rain while allowing one to enjoy the outdoors. 

Besides these designs, one can opt for customised skylights to suit a specific area of the house. It’s best to consult an architect or designer for ideas on the materials, structure and design so that the transparent roofing not only takes care of the need for natural light and ventilation but also improves the overall appearance of the home and adds style to the interiors.

Tips to follow while cleaning transparent roofs

Manuj Agarwal Architects Residence cum Studio, Dehradun Manuj Agarwal Architects Country style garden
Manuj Agarwal Architects

Manuj Agarwal Architects Residence cum Studio, Dehradun

Manuj Agarwal Architects
  • Make sure you have all the necessary tools and gear while cleaning acrylic, glass or other kinds of transparent roofing solutions. The main concern is to reach to the top and hence, you need to equip yourself with those brush attachments that can extend their length and help you in smoothly cleaning the roof.
  • Some types of roofs are made from self-cleaning materials, so you need to select the right time to clean them. Rain plays a significant role in breaking, washing away the dirt and preventing it from clinging to the frame. Hence, you need to clean the roof mainly during summers, when there is no likelihood of it getting a rain wash.

Glass and Timber Roof Benny Kuriakose Roof
Benny Kuriakose

Glass and Timber Roof

Benny Kuriakose
  • Keep in mind that glass or polycarbonate roof can get easily damaged with home cleaning products. Hence, you need to use non-abrasive materials along with soap and water to clean it. Any harsh chemical used on such roofs can damage their protective coating.
  • After thoroughly cleaning, do not forget to rinse the roof with water. However, you should not clean it on a sunny day as the roof may dry quickly and you may have to deal with tough soap stains, even before rinsing it.

While the process of cleaning may seem easy, professionals always suggest seeking the assistance of experts in order to ensure your own as well as the safety of the roof.

Would you use transparent roofing for your home? Leave a comment about the material you would choose.


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