Steel Building Accessories Skylights and Light Transmitting Panels

commercial warehouse with continuous light transmitting panels installed on wall at eaveThere are many accessories customers request for their steel buildings with skylights being among the most requested.
People either love them or hate them - but the popularity of light transmitting panels (LTP's) for steel buildings seems to stem from owners who are motivated to reduce their lighting/electric costs by introducing natural light into the building. In this post, we are going to look at light transmitting panels in a little detail and discuss the different kinds of skylights and some pros and cons.

Roof LTP's and Wall LTP's

For most customers, LTP's are thought of as being only in the roof and often referred to as "skylights", when in fact, LTP's for steel buildings can be installed in either the roof OR in the wall of the steel building.
Referring to LTP's as "skylights" might be misleading customers might be thinking that LTP's are more involved/sophisticated than they really are - as they are apt to draw an analogy to skylights used in residential construction. The fact is that standard LTP's are simply clear translucent panels that share the same profile as PBR panel.

Whether installed on a roof or wall, a section of the steel PBR panel is removed and an light transmitting panel (LTP) is put in its place - overlapping the steel PBR panel - with stitch screws to hold the light transmitting panel down and mastic sealant used at the seams where it overlaps the PBR panel.

Roof LTP's or Wall LTP's - Which is Best?

Most customers have (or develop) a love/hate relationship with Roof light transmitting panels. On the most fundamental of levels, we have a hard time justifying creating points of penetration in a brand new roof for the sake of allowing some sunlight into the steel building. On a more practical level, one of the most attractive features of steel buildings is that they are near maintenance free - BUT - Roof LTP's need regular cleaning in order to maintain their effectiveness as the rain, pollution, and debris that collects on them needs to be removed. It's not uncommon for the individual who is tasked with cleaning the Roof LTP's on their steel buildings to accidentally step on and crack one - resulting in the need for replacement (and also resulting in a leak until the replacement can be obtained and installed).
In contrast, Wall light transmitting panels (pictured to the left) are less needing of maintenance and also less likely to be damaged during periodic cleaning. While Wall LTP's can be placed anywhere on a wall, from a security standpoint, the best place is at the top of the wall. Wall LTP's are installed pretty much the same way that Roof LTP's are installed but due to the vertical nature of the wall they don't collect the same amount of dirt on them. While they might need an occasional cleaning, this can easily be done with a brush on an extension pole and hose.
It's important to keep in mind that the wall that you choose to put them on is important. Unlike skylights that are likely to allow sun in throughout the day, Wall light transmitting panels are going to be much more effective when placed on the eastern or western facing wall of steel buildings. Placing Wall LTP's on the north or south facing walls will not likely produce the desired effect.