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Thread: Thinking of putting skylights in my garage shop

  1. #1
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    Thinking of putting skylights in my garage shop

    As it says,I'm thinking of having two skylights installed in my garage shop to admit more light. Has anyone any experience or suggestions for this project?
    Dennis

  2. #2
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    I have not done so, but thought about it a few times. The issue for me is that...the upstairs to my shop is storage space, so only the knee wall areas would be available. That said, rather than traditional skylights, consider "light tubes". They are easier to install and are designed specifically for bringing in natural light. They can be pretty amazing.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dennis thompson View Post
    As it says,I'm thinking of having two skylights installed in my garage shop to admit more light. Has anyone any experience or suggestions for this project?
    If you do, be sure to get the best quality you can find! And have them installed correctly.

    This timberframe house was built in the '80s with six 2x2' skylights. I LOVE the light! But I had architect friends tell me "skylights always leak." After living here a few years we started seeing some "minor" leaks. (To me, even the smallest hint of a leak is major.) These were skylights that had cranks to open them a little but I don't think that feature was responsible for the leaks.

    I had a builder friend replace all of them - he recommended the Velux brand, the only brand he would install. Even though he had installed them before he actually studied the installation instructions from the manufacturer before starting! That was a long time ago and haven't had one leak. Note these are NOT inexpensive! https://www.veluxusa.com/

    I installed sliding blinds in each one, nice in a bedroom for a late sleeper!

    With the timberframe house there is no attic or even trusses so the light path is not constrained. With conventional construction I might consider another method. Also, our house has shingles. I have no experience with having them in metal roofing.

    JKJ

  4. #4
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    I have two 4'x4' skylights in the 24'x 15' shed roof portion of my shop. The main two story portion is 20'x30' and the shed ceiling height is 13'
    sloping to 8.5'. I used beams from the old family barn in Ill. 4' on center as main roof beams and the skylights fit in between. (used lots of the old barn beams throughout-both structurally and architecturally-shipping in a deadhead container from the midwest to the PNW was WAY reasonable!!) The skylights provide lots of ambient light to the 960 sq. ft. ground floor space. On rare occasions-on a clear day out here-the direct sunlight shines on my TS and the reflection/glare makes it hard to read the fence rule. Wait 5 min and the sun moves and my cuts are in 1/64th range again!! Can send pics if that would be of interest-and I can remember how to do it-. I built mine in during initial construction
    but retro-ing would SOP. JCB.

  5. #5
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    I have two 2 x 4' skylights in my workshop and I love them. When I drywalled the ceiling, I walled in a light channel from the roof to the ceiling. That way all of the light still makes it into the shop. In fact, for most of the day the light bounces off the white channel and creates nice diffused light.

    Jim Becker's comment about using a solartube is a good one. They are easy to install.

    On mine, I installed them when I built the workshop. IIRC, I framed a box with 2 x 6 or 2x8 and then flashed it with aluminum flashing, being careful that the flashing went under the underlayment from above and went over the underlayment (tar paper) below. Plus roofing tar. Tile roof. Twenty five years and no leaks. Initially I had put in cheap plastic bubbles in the workshop and house. Later, I replaced the skylights in the house with more expensive Velux skylights primarily for better fire protection.

  6. #6
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    Skylights are great -- light without taking up valuable wall space. They can be installed without leaks, but you really do have to pay attention to that.

  7. #7
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    Having gone through two major hail storms in the past 4 years, where many folks had major skylight leaks and damage, I decided not to do it. But I did look a lot at solar tubes which looked like a very nice option. As I recall some had different impact ratings if that’s an issue.

  8. #8
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    The downside with those solartube things is that they don't have a big collecting area, so they don't bring a lot of light into the shop. IIRC, on a sunny day they offer about as much light as a 100W incandescent lightbulb. Cloudy days, not so much.

  9. #9
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    My parents had the solar tubes in their single home prior to moving to a life-care community and the amount of light they brought in was pretty impressive, Jamie...even on cloudy days. They had them in both the kitchen and the baths. I was in my father's cousin's place last time I was in Florida and she has them in the bathrooms. I kept trying to turn off the lights...but they were not on. Size matters, however...
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    My parents had the solar tubes in their single home prior to moving to a life-care community and the amount of light they brought in was pretty impressive, Jamie...even on cloudy days. They had them in both the kitchen and the baths. I was in my father's cousin's place last time I was in Florida and she has them in the bathrooms. I kept trying to turn off the lights...but they were not on. Size matters, however...
    Yeah, they're great to bring some light into an interior bathroom, or a dark back hall. But most shops are bigger than that, and I want more light in the shop too.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    The downside with those solartube things is that they don't have a big collecting area, so they don't bring a lot of light into the shop. IIRC, on a sunny day they offer about as much light as a 100W incandescent lightbulb. Cloudy days, not so much.
    It probably depends on the size, the latitude, and your expectations, but I was pretty impressed with how bright the ones that were in the house where we stayed in Hawaii. I too kept trying to turn off the lights and then realized that they were light tubes.

    There would have to be a lot of large ones to replace my shop lighting, but to go out to the shop to get a tool, to go to the shop to work at the desk, or for a lot of tasks, i would not turn on the shop lights if there were a light few tubes. So yeah I don't see them as a replacement for shop lighting even on a sunny day, but, I'd still like to have a few.

    I also like the ability to be in touch with the outside world and the time of day in a manner that the clock doesn't quite give. A window does a much better job of that if one is an option. I love having a window in my shop.
    Last edited by Pete Staehling; 04-29-2020 at 6:53 AM.

  12. #12
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    Whether skylights or light tubes, they are not going to "replace" interior lighting in a space like a shop for the most part because we tend to want a high level of lighting to support the work we are doing. But they do potentially add to the lighting comfort and spectrum if well designed. They can also make things feel more spacious. Skylights definitely have the edge here because, well...you can see the sky...while light tubes don't generally provide that view.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  13. #13
    I am in the process of building a shop and I also wanted to include skylights, want as much natural light as possible. As someone said earlier this is one area that you don’t want to try and save some money. Velux is the brand to go with. They also sell a flashing kit that makes for a trouble free installation. I have a couple in my house and have had zero leaks in 15 years.

  14. #14
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    As a home inspector I would recommend tubes or round skylights over rectangle or square fixtures. It makes more sense for the ability to shed water, leaf debris, etc from the roof. I have seen composted leaf litter so thick against the top edge of skylight flashing small tree whips we’re growing in it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Goodin View Post
    As a home inspector I would recommend tubes or round skylights over rectangle or square fixtures. It makes more sense for the ability to shed water, leaf debris, etc from the roof. I have seen composted leaf litter so thick against the top edge of skylight flashing small tree whips we’re growing in it.
    That shouldn't happen if properly installed.

    The Veux instructions call for a included water deflector installed above each square sky light. We live in an area with a lot of leaves and wind-blown debris. In years of use debris has never collected on the top of the skylights. Any debris appears to be deflected to both sides of the skylight. I don't know if cheaper skylights require the same deflectors.

    Our roof is a steep 12-in-12 pitch so perhaps that makes a difference.

    JKJ
    Last edited by John K Jordan; 04-30-2020 at 9:52 PM. Reason: typo

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