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Question: To Skylight ... or Not?

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  • Question: To Skylight ... or Not?

    We have contractors working in our barn right now. They put a skylight into the new tack room, and it's lovely! Now we are considering putting a couple more translucent panels in the roof to let in natural light.

    However -- I'd like to know what some of you think about the idea? This is not for an indoor arena, but for a center-aisle barn with three stalls on each side and no windows. The barn gets very dark and dreary in the winter time, hence the attraction of the skylights.

    But, there are some advantages to being able to keep the barn fairly dark in the summertime. First, it stays cooler. We open up the barn doors on either end, set up a big circulating fan, and the boys come in from the afternoon sun. These past few summers, that has been a real life-saver for everyone, and I even thought how glad I was that I did NOT have skylights.

    Plus -- I have on occasion had a horse who needed to stay out of the sunlight while recovering from one or another "eye incidents." It's nice to have that dark stall for them to stay in, and with a fly mask, it has worked pretty well.

    So -- Yes or No on the skylights? If yes, would you put one in each stall?

    Of course, I need to make a decision right now. Thanks for any insights / suggestions.

  • #2
    Really hard to tell without actually being in your barn. Skylights are another thing that can leak/get ripped off in a bad storm. (Sandy took down one of my barn's skylights.) But if your barn has no other windows, I would think the additional light would be great.

    BUT, who knows how good this contractor is/how well the model of skylight you buy will function/etc. I might go for just a couple of them in the barn, maybe on one end, and see how they work/you like them. You can always get the contractor to come back again in the future.
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    • #3
      We had skylights over the center aisle of our last barn. Loved the light...hated where they were. DH often threatened to paint tar over them!!! They seemed to make the aisle much hotter in the summer and the flys were much worse. Side effect...hummingbirds would fly into the barn and get trapped because they insisted on going to the skylights. I much prefer 2 foot wide light panels running the length of the barn at the eaves. Same brightness with less heat. We also put vertical light panels in the barn doors on the south side of the barn. Those made the barn so pleasant even on cloudy days/bad weather when the doors were shut.
      www.crosscreeksporthorses.com
      Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma

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      • #4
        I would go for the skylight and see if they can maybe make some kind of shutter that you can close if needed.

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        • #5
          Well, around here, contractors for houses or barns or arenas will tell you no, with skylights it is not if, but when they will leak, break down, hail shatters them, etc.

          Many people still put them in, the light is more valuable to them than to replace the broken ones.

          Depending on where you put them, in the summers they act like a furnace, you are right.
          Can't you add windows somewhere, even in the doors if that fits your situation?

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          • #6
            I have a skylight in my barn. It's nice for the light, but it leaks. I have buckets set up all the time under it to catch the leaks, but the damage has already been done. I'm going to have to rip out the floor and the roof. I've already reflashed it, but still leaks

            I bought it that way, so it's possible it was put in by someone who didn't know what they were doing, but that, and the ones that are in my house that leak has made me never want another skylight.

            When I redo my barn, I'm going to have no skylights, but will have more windows/panels to let in light.

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            • #7
              The first barn I ever took lessons at as a kid had a few fiberglass panels in the roof that were light colored translucent to let light in but not direct sunlight. Would something like that work? (or is that what you're talking about?)
              The Trials and Jubilations of a Twenty-Something Re-rider
              Happy owner of Kieran the mostly-white-very-large-not-pony.

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              • #8
                I think we are not talking glass/window type, but a translucent type, similar to the roofing material.
                That stuff is no more prone to leakage or breakage than a normal roof tile, except maybe steel.

                As to whether or not? I could not tell.

                But I can tell you this: you can paint them from the inside with something water soluble for summer to block out the heat, then remove the paint in fall, when the days cool off.
                That's how greenhouses are done.
                Originally posted by BigMama1
                Facts don't have versions. If they do, they are opinions
                GNU Terry Prachett

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                • #9
                  I have the translucent panels as skylights in my barn and I love them. My barn has great ventilation so haven't noticed it being hot in there in the summer..there's always a breeze. I love how light and bright it is in the barn without having to turn on the lights. I've not had a problem with the panels cracking or coming off, but the barn's only six years old.

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                  • #10
                    I have a couple of clear panels in my barn roof- 2 12'panels on one side of the roof. The barn is 36 x 84 with 12' sidewalls and a 5/12 roof pitch. Huge hail put a couple of pea-sized holes in one of the panels, but we haven't bothered to replace it because it doesn't leak and you really have to look hard to find the tiny holes. I love the light they let in- it's rare to ever turn the barn lights on in the summer. Heck, the only time we regularly use the barn lights is winter. I also have windows in the stalls and the front barn doors. I haven't noticed it to be be any warmer under the skylights. Mine catch afternoon sun, not AM sun. I have no regrets about installing the skylight panels.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      My barn sounds exactly like shakeytails, and the contractors are suggesting the two 12-ft. panels, as you describe. So, with such widely varying opinions, I am no closer to a decision.

                      For what it's worth -- we had temps to about 115-degrees last summer. That's not heat index, that's air temp. I never saw anything like it in all my life living in the midwest -- but it did happen and can happen again.

                      I want to put windows in the stalls, too ... but one thing at a time, as my budget allows. One reason to decide on the panels right now -- the cost to do it right now is minimal, while they are in there and working.

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                      • #12
                        KR, I do, I do. I have 4 vented skylights in my barn but I do have a shingled roof. The barn is a six stall barn, center isle with a high ceiling. (36x48) Could put in a center isle hayloft if I wanted to. Barn is 16 yrs old and I have never had any trouble with the skylights. In fact, I am in the process of putting on a new roof, thank you Sandy, and despite the roof damage the skylights stayed secure. During the summer, I open them and I get great air flow. Thought that they would be a pain in the arse but DH insisted and I am glad he did.
                        "Don't make me go all chestnut mare on you"!

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          After careful deliberation, some online research, and reading all of your comments (thank you guys so much) -- we decided against putting the light panels in the roof. We are going to put one panel in the sliding end door so when the barn is shut up during the winter, we will still have "some" natural light.

                          Our next barn project (when budget permits) will be to get the spray-on insulation for the barn roof and install windows in each stall for light and ventilation ... with shutters that we can close to block out the same when needed.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Just seeing this post and I was going to vote for a skylight. The first barn we built here, as in Mr. SLW and I built it with the aid of a neighbor, we put skylights in. They give a lot of light for the buck so "less is more". Never had a problem with leaks or it being too hot.

                            We tore down that barn and had a company build a new one. Because of how I designed the barn- horse stuff in one half, farm equipment in the other half, I did not put in sky lights and man, the end with the farm stuff is dark unless I open the 12' overhead door or turn on the lights. After 4 years of living with it we are going to punch in a window at that end this year.

                            If I remember your barn layout it's horse stuff at the north end and more a machine shop at the other end. One set of translucent panels in the horse section would really lighten things up. But when you add windows you will get some light that way too plus the adding the panel in the north door will give you some filtered light. You will love having that!

                            I was raised to be a minimalist with barns. You want ventilation and air flow to reduce respiratory problems, not a building suitable for humans to live in. When I worked at the vet clinic it was a full time job to keep that barn suitable in the winter time when it was all closed up and had a couple horses in it. The ammonia build up overnight was terrible!

                            Good luck and have fun!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I know you've made the decision, but it never hurts to have an extra confirmation of what you've decided, right?

                              My former BO had them in her barn, but said that she wouldn't do it again. Honestly, I don't remember the specifics, but I think she said that if she needed light in the barn, she had electric for that, and I think that it did increase the temperature in the barn in the summer. I didn't put any in when I built my place, and I find I don't really need them. Barn is plenty light enough when I open doors in the summer, and in the winter, I'm getting enough light out of my little LED puck lights to work by. It helps that the inside surface of my roof and side walls (it's a metal pole barn) is light colored, so there's plenty of surface area for any ambient light to bounce off of.

                              I think the new panel in the sliding door sounds like a great way to get a little more light, without compromising the existing roof, too.

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