Applications for daylight systems

Solarspot® Daylighting Systems earning BREEAM credits

The BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is the leading and most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings in the UK. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe a building’s environmental performance. BREEAM recognises the benefits of tubular daylighting devices which contribute towards a building’s environmental performance under the Health and Well-being Section HW01 and the Energy Section E01.

Underground buildings and homes

Solarspot Daylight System, tunnels light to any area of your homeBuilding underground homes or extensions has never been more popular. Modern damp-proof membranes and insulators have eradicated the problems of cold, damp buildings but the issue of natural light can still be the deciding factor in the success or otherwise of a project. In order for an underground house to feel enough of a home rather than a bunker, the levels of natural light to match, or even exceed those expected in a ‘traditional’ house.

There is absolutely no reason why an underground house should not be as bright, or even brighter than a convention, surface built house. The inclusion of sufficient Solarspot Tubular Daylight Systems (TDS) can more than compensate for the lack of conventional windows. In fact, it’s possible to create rooms that exceed the brightness levels enjoyed by window-lit houses.

More light than a window

office-building-milan.jpgFirstly, when using a series of TDSs to light a space, you can be sure that all of the light collectors are facing the source of our light, the sun and sky. Unlike conventional windows that face out level with the ground, a Solarspot dome can be relied upon to deliver the maximum amount of available light without concern of limitation like aspect (being north-facing) or shading from other buildings.

In addition, due to its light-catching technology, a massive amount of light can be gathered through a comparatively small aperture. This means that an average room could be well-lit with just two 380mm diameter Solarspot systems – delivering much, much more light than could be achieved with a window of the same area. A bathroom or en suite would only require a 250mm TDS.

Thermally efficient

Because of its triple-glazed design, a Solarspot TDS is also incredibly thermal efficient of bringing light into any building.  These part L compliant systems guarantee maximum light with minimum heat loss – or heat-gain during the summer. They should also be completely maintenance free.

In terms of uValues, it is possible to achieve values as low as 0.5W/m2K*, but it must be remembered that additional lens will reduce the daylight delivery efficiency meaning that more systems need to be used to maintain the specified light levels. When looking at uValues it is vital that the whole of the roofs thermal efficiency be considered as a single factor. It is better to sacrifice a small amount of thermal efficiency in order to bring in the required light factor and compensate with a small amount of additional insulation in the roof as required.

*Subject to tube insulation and addition Convas lenses

Drawbacks

Correct installation is vital, particularly if a green or living roof is to be used. It is not sufficient to install a flashing to the house roof-raft and then to bury the pipe in the soil and not expect future problems. A certain underground house in Cumbria featured on Grand Designs is a classic example – fails in two very important areas.

Light tubes are designed to fit through roof voids, not soil. The addition of a simple, insulated up stand, sealed to the roof-raft and topped with a suitable flashing will guarantee a maintenance and condensation free system that should continue to deliver an abundance of light for years to come.

The second issue is specifying the correct number of units. The simple rule is that you can’t make the house too bright. To install one 300mm light pipe into an average kitchen and expect it to do the job of a large window is naïve to say the least. If anything, over-lighting the space will compensate for any psychological effects or expectations of being underground. The worst possible effect of over-lighting will be to create a well-lit space to rival that of a conservatory or garden room – without the heat or glare.

If you’re planning an underground house and need some advice or more information,
contact us today on 01908 299117 or email at solarspot@syneco.co.uk