How Daylighting Devices Work

Benefits of Daylighting Devices

Sunlight brightens a dining room.
Sunlight brightens a dining room.

One of the biggest benefits to daylighting devices involves your mood. If you aren't getting enough exposure to sunlight you could develop seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The symptoms of SAD include fatigue, social withdrawal, a decreased sense of interest in activities and even weight gain. SAD can even turn into full-blown depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), SAD develops when there's a biochemical imbalance in the brain as a result of decreased exposure to sunlight. Sunlight also inhibits melatonin production, a hormone that is related to sleep. Your body produces more melatonin on dark days or days when you don't get enough sunlight.

While most people develop symptoms of SAD during the late fall and into the winter months, it's possible to suffer from SAD any time of the year. If you spend most of time indoors and away from the sun, you could suffer from SAD even in the middle of summer. The APA suggests a walk outside on a sunny day as a way to treat SAD symptoms.

A daylighting device can help keep your exposure to sunlight steady throughout the year. Business owners may find that their employees are more productive and happier with increased sunlight exposure.

Some tasks may actually be easier when performed in sunlight than with other lighting methods. A Cornell University study compared fatigue levels between two groups of students. Each group of students was told to study or do coursework for four hours over the course of four days. The researchers used two different lighting sources during the experiment. One room used normal "cool white" fluorescent bulbs. The other room had a special kind of fluorescent bulb that produced the same light wavelengths as sunlight. The students were not aware of the purpose of the experiment and didn't know about the two different kinds of bulbs. The researchers found that while the students didn't report any significant subjective differences between one day and the next, they did perform visual acuity tasks better on the days when they were exposed to the special fluorescent bulbs.

­Daylighting devices are also a good way to cut back on energy consumption. As the green movement sweeps the globe, more companies and individuals are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprints. If you use natural lighting, not only will you reduce your need for electricity, but also cut back on the physical waste you create -- you won't have to replace light bulbs as often. If the sun burns out, the lighting in your living room will be the least of your worries.

Reduced energy consumption also means reduced electricity bills. So not only is it environmentally friendly to use natural lighting, it can be fiscally responsible, too! Just remember that there's a significant investment you'll need to make up front if you decide to adopt daylighting devices.

Next, let's look more closely at how much it costs to purchase and install a daylighting device.