Conservatory Skylight Study / by Tom Simmons

During a recent remodel of a beachfront home the client wanted to include a large conservatory skylight over the entire kitchen.  The concern was that the large skylight at a coastal California home would allow in too much light on a hot summer day.  We half joked that the clients could get a sunburn from being in their kitchen during a sunny day.   We considered designing a sun screen that would be closed on the hottest days.  A motorized screen would add about $10,000 to the budget, not to mention engineering and framing costs.  

I suggested we do a "Sunburn Study" to determine the impact of sunlight in the kitchen.  

 Kitchen, Island and ceiling beam details with the Conservatory skylight. 

Kitchen, Island and ceiling beam details with the Conservatory skylight. 

We drew up the skylight based upon the manufacturer's specification for frames, glass etc., and concluded that if we were to decrease its size, the visual impact would be lost. 

 Conservatory Skylight under consideration

Conservatory Skylight under consideration

The digital drawing from this sunlight study quickly determined that at noon on August 12th, sunlight would be cast across the back wall of the kitchen, and not over the folks sitting at the island.  As a result, we decided that we didn't need the expensive sun screen and could confidently move ahead with the design, engineering and installation of the Conservatory Skylight. 

Kitchen showing the shadow and sunlight washing the far wall on August 12 at noon. 

In doing our 3 dimensional study, we used a valuable tool to help the entire team of contractors, owners, and designers.