I have a vaulted ceiling in my living/kitchen area where I'd like to install skylights. The designer I spoke to suggested two 2'x 4' skylights in the north facing living room, but she didn't seem to have much knowledge on placement other than aesthetics. I'm wondering if there are design guidelines for skylight placement? The north side of course won't get much sun so there is little to no solar gain. The other option is to place the skylights on the southern side, which will get plenty of sun, but could also blind us. Looking around my neighborhood, I've seen skylights placed on all directions of houses, so it seems there isn't a wrong side of the house for a skylight.
I think you've figured out the pros/cons already: solar gain and light brightness.
I'd place them on both sides for symmetry, but without seeing the room, that's just a random thought.
A pet peeve of mine is cheap skylights, though. If you're going to invest in these, consider doing it right and get a model that:
- can be opened (a easy way to help cool the house in summer)
- can be opened remotely (you want powered windows)
- has some form of shades/blinds
Nice to haves:
- rain detection (will close for you if it detects rain)
- internal power shades (to 'soften' direct light)
- external power black-out shutters (for when you want full sun blocked)