The Plastic Bubble Skylight

Flat SkylightSkylights provide a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of natural light, thus reducing the need for electricity, and allowing for a healthier system whereby Vitamin D can be absorbed from sunlight, and exposure to artificial lighting can be minimized. The plastic bubble skylight has been around for decades and while it has enjoyed incredible popularity, the jury is now out on what is the better alternative - the plastic bubble skylight or the flat glass skylight.

The case for plastic bubble skylights

Companies that sell plastic bubble skylights are proud of their products' low cost, low weight, high efficiency model. They say that they are superbly suitable for flat roof installations because they allow water to run off so easily and they attract light from a range of different angles. When acrylic plastic is formed into a bubble shape, the strength is significantly increased. This helps reduce expansion and contraction, which can cause hairline cracks in a skylight over a period of time.

Plastic bubble skylights range in price in the low hundreds, with average pricing at around $150.

The case against plastic bubble skylights

As plastic bubble skylights have aged, many of them have cracked and turned yellow due to the intensity of the sunlight that beats down upon them, adding harsh UV rays. Skylights made of flat glass are more visually attractive, especially considering the pseudo space age look of the bubble, which became outdated at least a decade ago. Flat glass skylights permit an unhindered view of the world beyond, whether it be a night sky full of stars, or a clear blue sky with the occasional cloud floating by.

Replacement Skylights

Companies who offer replacements of plastic bubble skylights with flat glass ones claim that the latter provide greater energy efficiency and protect furniture from being faded by the ravages of UV sunlight. Replacement is a simple matter of unscrewing the plastic bubble skylights, chiselling off any residual sealant, and affixing the new flat glass model to the existing curb with screws.

They further claim that the newer units create less noise, are not subject to leaking or drafts and are better able to withstand extreme weather conditions. Even manufacturers of plastic bubble skylights admit that they are not suited to some architectural environments.

The cost of flat glass skylights is much greater than that of plastic bubble skylights, with prices starting at around $450 to $500, and more if the homeowner requires motorization or double glazing.

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Photo by Ollie Crafoord, Creative Commons Attribution License