Daylighting and Sound: Do Skylights Increase Outside Noise Transfer?

Daylighting and SoundAnyone who’s stayed in a centrally located hotel knows that ambient noise can be a major problem for comfortable living and good sleep. From traffic to outside sound, glass can make a great noises an uncomfortable annoyance for residents.

One of the biggest concerns of many businesses interested in installing skylights and other daylighting systems in their workplaces is noise. Do skylights increase outside noise transfer, or are they thick enough to prevent noise from being an annoyance?

In this blog post, we’ll look at the factors that contribute to noise transfer, how the best modern skylights prevent it from being an issue and the choices available for homeowners and businesses in areas with lots of ambient, outside noise.

Understanding the purpose of skylights

It’s important to remember that skylights are designed as light sources, and don’t have the thickness of a solid concrete wall. As such, they’ll never achieve the same level of soundproofing as a thick wall or barrier in your home or workplace.

Despite this, modern insulation technology has made skylights – once thought of as major contributors to interior noise pollution – far more acoustically shielded than before. Today’s skylights block almost all exterior to interior noise transfer.

Nano Insulgel and sound insulation

Our Nano Insulgel is best known for its ability to diffuse light and prevent interior spaces from becoming subject to glare. Its also known for its prevention of excess heat transfer – the transfer of heat from the outside to the inside of a space.

Because of the structure of Nano Insulgel, it’s also a fantastic form of insulation for sound. Air can’t circulate through Nano Insulgel, making it a wonderful choice when ambient noise prevention is your priority.

This is because the structure of Nano Insulgel is just three percent solid and 97% air – a combination that significantly slows down sound waves and makes them far less capable of penetrating the skylight and entering any interior environment.

Shape matters for daylighting

Not all skylights are flat and square in the same shape as a typical window. Many of the most widely used skylights are domes of various angles and intensities. This has a significant effect on their ability to prevent sound from entering an environment.

As well as preventing glare by diffusing light, dome-shaped skylights also prevent the transfer of sound. This makes them an ideal option for schools, offices and any other environments in which sound prevention is an important priority.

Glass thickness and acoustics

Finally, one of the biggest factors to consider when preventing sound transfer is the thickness of the glass used in your daylighting system. Just like thicker walls reduce noise transfer, thicker glass makes acoustic transfer far less of an issue.

For example, insulated laminating glass is far more capable of preventing extensive sound transfer than non-insulated laminating glass. The difference: four points out of 100 on the sound transmission class (STC) value scale.

The thicker the glass becomes, the greater its ability to reduce sound transfer will also become. One-inch thick glass has a 39 reading on the STC scale, whereas 4½-inch glass has a 48 reading – significant higher due to its much greater thickness.

Although glass of this thickness is largely unsuitable for use in a home skylight or window, its sound transmission class value is significant. In fact, its comparable to that of a double-layer gypsum wall board with three inches of sound proofing.

Will a skylight make your workspace noisy?

For the most part, installing a skylight or large windows in your workspace or home will have little effect on the ambient noise level. In very noisy areas, it will result in a slight increase, although the results are unlikely to be significant.

Using insulation and the correct materials, the noise transfer effects of skylights and other daylighting systems can be controlled. In addition to this, the huge benefits for energy efficiency and productivity outweigh any sound-related disadvantages.

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