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Fixed vs. Retractable Skylights for Restaurants

Crooke Cued

A skylight, whether operable or not, is a great way to completely change the aesthetic of any interior. Choosing to install a skylight in your restaurant can make the world of difference to any space regardless of location. It will make the restaurant brighter lighter and more appealing while being weather resistant. Most people are familiar with skylights. Few know, however, that there are lots of different types, shapes, and sizes to choose from. What people may not realize is a skylight is no longer limited to a small rectangle or square… a skylight may be your entire roof!

When choosing a skylight, you have a choice between retractable or fixed skylights.  Here is a handy guide to compare retractable skylights and fixed skylights, and we look at each skylight’s benefits in order for you to make the ideal choice for your restaurant.  

  • Fixed Skylights

A fixed skylight brings the light into any room! This is the better known and more traditional option and often comes in a variety of fixed sizes. They deliver light and ambiance to any restaurant. A skylight is a fixed window set onto the roof. They may incorporate venting options, but the window itself does not open.

There are some options for different types of skylights and optional features. You may have some choice for the quality of glass or molded plastic, although that depends on the manufacturer, and all come in a variety of materials and colours for trim. Glass for these skylights is typically tempered and laminated in single, double or triple-pane glass units, and in some cases, with a variety of reflective coating, and the like.

What Are the Benefits of Fixed Skylights?

  • All skylights are made from materials designed to resist impact including metal or wood frames and glass or pre formed plastic infills. This helps with maintenance costs, since these windows may be subject to impact from weather and wildlife.
  • Fixed (non-custom) Skylights usually come in predetermined sizes with preset design options and can be moderately priced.
  • Some suppliers offer custom fixed skylights for unusual or larger spaces but there is usually a limit to the width that they can span. Larger spans require manufacturers with unique engineering and manufacturing and installation capabilities.
  • There can be some advantage in cold weather, where the winter sun beaming down on the roof window can help to heat up a space through a minor amount of ambient heat gain. In hot weather however, these skylights can allow extensive sunshine into the space, sometimes to the detriment of your heating system. Non custom skylights have more limited options for glazing materials so often shades are required on the interior to reduce solar heat gain. Custom fixed skylights alleviate this issue.
  • Whether off the shelf or custom, all fixed skylights are air and water-tight, it introduce brightness to your space while it protects you from the elements.
  • In an upper-story space such as a restaurant tucked beneath a sloped roof-line, or within a downtown metropolitan neighbourhood, sometimes the only light is from above, making interior spaces dark. Skylights can appear to open up the space to the sky and convert a dark space into a light one.
  • A fixed skylight is a safe investment however, the installation may not always be warrantied. Consumers should be aware of what is included in the warranty specifically for the install of the units, in case of leaking.  
  • Because heat rises, a fixed skylight is sometimes vented, usually this is manually operated but some suppliers now offer a motorized pop up vent. While this is helpful, the small vent size doesn’t always fully allow the space to cool, so HVAC may still be required while the skylight vent is open.

Custom Retractable Skylights

If you are renovating, building new or simply remodelling, you might want to consider adding a custom retractable skylight to add more light to your rooms and to allow for increased ventilation and fresh air. A retractable skylight can be custom designed to suit your space, so you are not limited by size and spans and materials. A retractable skylight has all the benefits of a fixed skylight with more… it adds ventilation, lighting, and can be any size! The concealed motors, and thermally efficient glazing result in a refined operation and sophisticated aesthetic that opens at the push of a button and closes just as quickly.

What Are the Benefits of Retractable Skylights?

  • Retractable skylights open quietly and smoothly and close tight to keep out drafts and moisture. Operation of these units it literally the push of a button and can take mere minutes to turn an entire indoor restaurant into an outdoor patio.
  • The designs are unique and fully customizable, adding sophistication and elegance to any space. You can select the finish colour, the type of glazing material and the shape and size.
  • There are multiple features you can add to your retractable skylight including rain or wind sensors to automatically close the roof at the first sign of inclement weather. Your skylight can be tied into your building management system so operation is seamless.
  • Sunlight doesn’t just brighten up the room, but it can help brighten up the customers’ mood. The health benefits of natural light and fresh air are endless and a retractable skylight can be especially helpful in the winter months or cold rainy days to create a social welcoming atmosphere of warmth and comfort, they are also invaluable in good weather when everyone craves being outdoors not cooped up inside.

Choosing a Retractable or Fixed Skylight for Your Restaurant

    • Retractable skylights are an option that allows you to look up into the sky and feel the fresh air while sitting inside. A retractable roof means your space converts from indoor to outdoor in moments.
    • With every changing weather patterns a retractable roof is a safety net for operators. No more weather cancellations, no more ruined events, no more turning away guests who only want patio seats.

Other Advantages of Choosing Skylights for Restaurants

    • Retractable skylights open to allow the heat to escape, with the aid of fans, hot air is pulled up and out the space, making it seem cooler, even though its outdoors.
    • The type of glass used in a custom skylight is literally limitless, you can choose any specifications (colour and coatings) you want, based on what you decide will best help maintain the desired mechanical conditions in your space. UV coated glass can reduce solar heat gain in the summer and low-emission coatings help retain heat in the winter, thus saving on heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
    • Retractable skylights are the only way to bring in fresh air to an existing space that was previously conceived as an “interior or indoor space” with no exterior access.  They can be custom designed to fit in beautifully with your architectural style.
    • The benefits of fresh air and natural light extend beyond our environment to our own personal well-being. They ensure people working or visiting  these environments are happier and healthier. Fresh air is considerably better than recycled air for the health and wellness of people of all ages. Staff working in these spaces are happier thus reducing employee turnover.  
    • A retractable skylight can help conserve energy. Skylights allow in the maximum amount of light resulting in a reduced need for artificial lighting, while a retractable skylight helps reduce your energy consumption by allowing you to turn off the AC when the roof is open..
    • Another benefit of skylights is that they can potentially increase the value of your restaurant A bright and airy restaurant will increase the space appeal to potential buyers or lease holders.
    • A retractable skylight can be used for both commercial and mixed use commercial spaces. It is suitable for all areas and you can rely on it to look great whether your restaurant is situated around a rooftop bar, rooftop restaurant, restaurant patio or hotel pool.
    • Playful shadows can result when architectural elements like these light beams slice through a long strip skylight. This creates beautiful design look and feel for your restaurant.
    • Due to the greenhouse effect, a traditional fixed glass room builds up heat when it is sunny out. A retractable system does not do this due to its ability to open on command on a warm day.
    • The retractable roof or retractable skylight enclosure is also aesthetically pleasing. Patrons gravitate towards the brightly lit, well ventilated space.  

Crooked Cue

Choosing the Right Skylight Supplier for Your Restaurant

When choosing a skylight manufacturer and supplier, it is vital to choose one who does not compromise on quality, design, materials or structural integrity and that adheres strictly to the requirements set out by the international building code. Skylight manufacturing and installation is complicated as many factors play a part in choosing and installing the right skylight for your space. Whether your restaurant is a new building or a renovation or addition; working with a team of architects, engineers and fabricators from the start of you project ensures a seamless solution through opening and will allow you to make sure your project is on time and on budget.

One-size-fits-all simply is not appropriate for everyone, especially when it comes  to unique locations, leased spaces, historic buildings, or simply busy commercial centers. A good skylight supplier will work closely with your architects, contractors, and builders as well as restaurant owners and operators, to ensure the project meets the needs, budget and use of the space. There are a multitude of fun ideas available that you can incorporate, and, a really great skylight supplier will not only have the ideas but will also suggest alternative solutions.

OpenAire Retractable and Fixed Skylights for Restaurants

OpenAire has been designing and manufacturing beautiful, high-quality retractable roof skylights for over 30 years..

Why Choose OpenAire?

OpenAire’s operable large-span retractable skylights or our large span custom fixed skylights function faithfully in applications ranging from all-season restaurant patios to large-scale waterparks and aquatic centers, plus health clubs, shopping centers, community centers, private residences, hotels, and many more. Our unique, elegantly designed skylight solutions bring the sky into any room, delivering light and creating a unique ambiance. These works of art elevate any space, whether residential or commercial, creating visually stunning windows to the sky.

What we offer that makes us unique is the ability to span openings larger than most suppliers in the industry and to provide either both the supporting sub structure and skylight or just the skylight. We are a one-stop shop for skylights. OpenAire works with our clients to make sure they get the perfect skylight to compliment their space, while guaranteeing, with our superior warranty, that all skylights are professionally designed, manufactured, fabricated, shipped and installed. Our excellent warranty and ongoing service support and record speaks for itself. Our skylights and working with OpenAire is a worry free proposition.  

Whether you are choosing a fixed skylight or retractable skylight, whether it is 20 ft (6 meters) wide or 200 ft (61 meters) wide, whether it is a new restaurant or whether you are renovating your existing space, our expert team is here to help. Book a consultation with us today!

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