DIY skylight?


OK, the subject is going to make everyone say "no way". But wait ...
We are having part of our roof reframed because it's a mess, repairing the rest and putting metal on the whole thing. It's all 3/12 slope. The metal will be Berridge Zee-lock, which is 24-gauge with a 1" standing seam, 16" wide panels which will be formed and cut to the specified lengths by a local company.
The newly framed part is going to cover a small screened porch which previously had a mostly fiberglass roof (which was part of the problem). There's heavy shade around it, so there's going to be a lot less light with the metal roof. So we want to add skylights. Since it's a porch, I don't need energy saving features like double glass and it doesn't need to open. I would however prefer polycarbonate glazing -- statistically it may be rare for a glass skylight to break, but such an event is in my experience, and there's a large oak tree overhead. This is in north Florida, so no worry about snow, and although wind is an issue, it's far enough inland that thunderstorms are a greater concern than hurricanes.
Velux has a choice of sizes, but only glass, and double glass at that. Others I've found online are glass or acrylic or "fiberglass" of unspecified plastic composition. Won't be able to check the local non-big-box stores until next week. The prices for the Velux aren't awful, but I'm sure I'd be paying a good bit for the double glazing that I don't need and I wouldn't get polycarb. They do at least offer tempered glass which is like windshield glass in that it breaks into non-dangerous pieces. (And I haven't figured out whether I'll need their flashing kit with a metal roof, or how much that will cost.)
So do I have any options for making it myself? (I refer to myself but it would actually be a master carpenter working for me doing the construction, and I could find a local sheet metal shop if needed.) I can of course get polycarbonate cut locally, so the frame is the biggie. And of course it has to pass inspection.
And obviously it mustn't leak. Even though some drops on the porch wouldn't matter, a leak would destroy the integrity of the decking just as quickly on a porch as elsewhere.
Or should I give up on polycarb and eat the cost of features I don't need?
Edward
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*Many years ago I house I worked on in Beverly Hills had custom made skylights installed. The designer specified the glass to be brass wire mesh reinforced. I don't know who did the fabrication or who manufactured the glass, but they came out very nice. Of course money was not a concern for that job. So I would think that you can have whatever you want. Try some metal fabrication places.
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On Sat, 22 May 2010 15:08:32 -0400, Edward Reid

Have a look at Solatube
" The dome is made from high quality acrylic resin that is specifically formulated for increased impact strength, chemical, weather resistance and high clarity. For High Velocity Hurricane Zone areas we have available the Shock Inner Dome for the Brighten Up Series. For the SolaMaster Series we offer a Polycarbonate inner dome. The tubing is made from puncture proof aluminum sheet with a UV protective covering."
http://www.solatube.com/residential/product-catalog/brighten-up-series/index.php
* * Solatube eChoice Products Eligible for 30% Federal Tax Credit * Eco-friendly Product * Patented High Performance Technology * Cost Effective Way to Brighten Every Room * Leak Proof Design * ENERGY STAR Rated
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On Sat, 22 May 2010 13:11:13 -0700, Oren wrote:

http://www.solatube.com/residential/product-catalog/brighten-up-series/index.php
Thanks. I should have added that I expect exposed decking and rafters over the porch, or at least a ceiling directly on the underside of the rafters. So no need for a tube, though of course I wouldn't mind buying from Solatube if they have the right product. But I was thinking more like 10 to 20 sq ft of effective skylight, and it looks like the Solatube products are just over 1 or 2 sq ft, depending on the model.
Edward
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On Sat, 22 May 2010 16:41:39 -0400, Edward Reid

Maybe some product from a company that makes greehouse panels?
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Oren wrote:

Don't forget Solatubes ain't just tubes. I don't remember if the optics are at top or bottom, but they pump a lot more light than a simple 12" pipe would.
But to answer OP's original question- as roof is being redone, frame in a curb around the opening, and just have the roofers treat it like any other vertical joint, with flashing folded over top of the curb. If the weatherstripping for whatever you put up there isn't sitting in standing in water, it won't have to work very hard.
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wrote:

Top, I say.
A local fire captain built his house several years ago. He put in 3 Solatubes. Amazing in a long hall, it brought in the light so bright.
He had one in the master BR closet. At least twice I walked out and found myself trying to find the light switch...laughed at myself.
Even he experienced the brightness ..
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wrote:

And Solatubes are EXTREMELY pricey, compared to a standard sky-light.
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Edward Reid wrote:

I can't answer your question but I *can* say I am impressed with Velux. That isn't saying much as I've never had others but we have six in our central Florida house - surrounded by oak trees, some of which overhang - and nary a problem.
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Ditto the above. I'd had Velux for 15 years that include electric motors and I have large oak trees that are nearby. Not a single problem. I'm sure if you Google this group you will find many similar comments about Velux. I can't recall anyone here complaining about them.
I think you would be asking for lots of problems trying to make your own instead of using a proven solution. And I think you are focused too much on the polycarbonate vs glass issue. The solar tube idea could be OK, but I would go with the true skylights for the application as I think they are a lot more visually appealing.
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Lexan is a proven solution. What is wrong with using it?
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Lexan is a material, not a complete solution. It's like saying you can use glass for a window. But how it's mounted, sealed, made weatherproof for the particular application is still a major factor in whether it's a viable solution.
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Here is what I would do if you can't find a prefab solution that meet's your needs.
Talk to your builder and ask him to give you a set of spec's that he would feel comfortable in installing in your roof.
Now talk to a local metal fabricator and show him the spec's and ask him for a solution.
Seems to me a skylight is just a window frame that is horizontal, so the design needs to have provisions to: attach it to the roof, stay water tight have provisions to remove and replace the glazing material resist corrosion.
I suspect a sheet metal shop could cut, fold and weld some stainless steel up that would do the trick.
What would be really slick is if a "cricket" was included into the design to deflect the water on the up side of the skylight frame.
The cheapest way to get the plastic sheet would be in regular flat sheets, but some provision should be made to support the center so the plastic does not sag over time. On pre fab units they seem to form a bubble shape to prevent the sag, but if the athletics permit, a support mullion or two that would allow any ordinary flat piece of plastic or glass to be used as replacement glazing.
Plastic is great stuff, but over time the UV will kill it, so provisions for replacement should allow an easy and cheap DIY solution when the need arises.
Fabing it out of stainless will be more costly than building it out of wood, but you will never have to paint it or worry about it rotting away.
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You've got a special consideration because you're using a metal roof. Before you get too involved, make sure you see skylights that have been installed in other, similar roofs, because I think you'll find the construction is different from what you'd expect.
We also have a metal roof and installed a skylight in the MBR and solatubes in a couple of other places. The contractor and roofer constructed a metal box for each that was mounted into the roof, then put the skylight atop the metal box. The skylight is NOT mounted flush with the rest of the roof. From the outside it looks like an oversized shoebox has been attached to the roof, with the skylight atop the shoebox. This wouldn't be attractive if the roof was visible from the front of the house. But this is a configuration that the roofer insisted on, and he has a long reputation for quality. 10 years and five hurricanes, and it's never leaked or been a problem. The box does tend to collect needles on it's top side when the cypress lose their leaves in the fall, but I go up a couple of times a year and blow it clear.
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JimR wrote: (snip)

Your roofer did it the correct way- skylights should always be on a box above the roof deck plane. Only way I have ever seen it done, starting 40+ years ago.
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May be true in the case of metal roofs, but that is NOT how you install most skylights on a standard pitched shingle roof. Velux skylights get mounted directly to the roof.
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wrote:

You'll end up spending as much as you would on the velux.
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OK, I think everyone's convinced me not to try custom construction -- thanks.
What's the reputation of Sun Tek? I have not yet consulted local dealers, but I see those as an option on the big box web sites. Somewhat cheaper than Velux though not dramatically so, actually seem to have more useful info on their web site. And they offer a number of models in polycarbonate, as well as tempered glass.
I know that whatever I use, it will have to be curb mounted. AFAIK, this is required for all skylights on metal roofs.
Solatubes would be great for interior lighting. But no matter what optics they use, they can't pass through more light than they collect, and the main models collect from one or two square feet of roof. This is plenty for inside, but since I'm talking porch, I'm interested in more like 20 square feet. Velux and Sun Tek both make skylights in nominal 2'x'4 sizes ... well, two of those would be only about 15 sq ft, that might be enough, or add a third. (And my roof is mostly shaded.)
I also need to call the fabricator to see what they recommend. The responders on the forums at metalroofing.com always harp on "consult the manufacturer".
Thanks,
Edward
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On Tue, 25 May 2010 12:46:50 -0400, Edward Reid

You KNOW Velux's reputation for quality. You know what you are getting with Velux. Sun Tek is an unknown. For the small difference in price, go with what you know. Velux, all the way.

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