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Skylights and Solar Panels in Southern California - Architect Jeffrey Dahl weighs in

It's no secret that the southwestern United States is flush with sunlight, one of the top places on earth, which is one of the reasons so many Americans call places like Calfornia, home.  When you have this much natural daylight at your disposal is there any reason to want more?  In the land of excess, the answer is complicated.  Local architect Jeffrey Dahl, of Huntington Beach, recently remodeled  and decided to add a Velux skylight in his master bathroom.   Jeffrey is not a fan of skylights for a few reasons, but because of the internal location in his home, this was a viable solution.  The positives were obvious once he went to turn the unit on.  "After they were done installing, I went up on the roof and plugged in the solar panel quite easily.  I came downstairs, put some batteries in the remote, and it worked immediately, that was awesome."  He installed the Velux Solar Powered "Fresh Air" Skylight which eliminates the need for wiring as the skylight opens and closes with power harnessed from the sun.  Welcome to the future, with the click of a button you get instant circulation.  "It's incredible the amount of air flow that we get out of it, it moves way more than a standard window" says Jeff.  

Velux Solar Powered Skylight

Lighting is probably the biggest feature when adding a skylight and Jeff is not crazy about these for a few reasons.  "I don't like to penetrate the ceiling, I like a very clean roof.  They also create light pollution at night which is why in Rancho Palos Verdes they have lot's of rules regarding placement and type.  Nobody wants to look out at night and see all these beacons of light coming from the roofs."   The natural daylight they provide is a solution for really dark spaces and it's always good to get some Vitamin D of course.  The actual light you receive is 100% natural unlike all your other artificial lighting throughout your home.  Most interior lighting is set at a comfortable warm white 2700 - 3000 degrees Kelvin on the color temperature scale.  Skylights, outside of a tinted film, provide exactly what the sun is providing throughout the day, thus becoming part of a humancentric lighting system.  Human centric lighting systems are set up to mimic your natural circadian rhythm so as to be in tune with nature.  This has shown to promote good health and wellness and thus skylights are officially healthy!  The lighting received during the day from skylights is a cooler color temperature in the 6000k to as much as 10,000 degrees kelvin.  As the sun winds down in the evening, the light is a warmer color temperature, think California golden sunset.  One way to modify your skylight for additional lighting is to add linear led tape lighting for an architectural feature.  Newer led tape lighting consists of warm dim technology to warm up in kelvin color temperature as the light is dimmed down.

LED Tape Light Skyligh

One money saving aspect of installing solar battery powered skylights is the Federal tax credit you can receive back through 2021.  The Emergency Stabilization Act signed by President George Bush and the American Recovery and Investment Act signed by President Barrack Obama create a tax credit up to 30% that phases out to 22% through the end of 2021.   Renewable technologies like solar electric, solar water heating, small wind energy and more qualify.

We asked Jeff Dahl, what's next in the land of endless solar energy?  "Well the Tesla Solar Roof is a spectacular product and when fused with the right architecture, it's very complimentary."  

Tesla Solar Roof

Photovoltaics come in all shapes and sizes but the new Tesla solar roof was not completely revolutionary, there are projects in Southern California that have used solar shingles in the past.  "There is the Los Alamitos Fire Station, right off the 405 and Seal Beach Blvd., that installed solar shingles about 15 years ago.  I thought it was a truly amazing concept, but after speaking with the company that started these, it was one of those innovations that never got off the ground."   The design and water proofing are part of your roof system, the fact that the Tesla roof can power everything in your home with energy from the Sun is mind blowing.  Integrating lighting, both natural and artificial, along with energy-efficient products, like LED lighting, go a long way towards building a green home and becoming energy conscious.  There are a lot of beautifully designed cool products on the market but with the stringent state of California and it's Title 24 energy code, most of these choices may become mandatory not a choice.