what is a thermal break

What Is A Thermal Break And Why Is It Important For Rooflights?

February 15, 2019

If you are in the market for a rooflight, you’ll almost certainly encounter some jargon during your search.

Here at Roof Maker, we always want our customers to have all the information they need to make a confident decision. It’s one of the reasons we’ve created a bespoke Help Section on our website and keep our blog filled with fresh posts (just like this one).

In today’s post, we are going to deconstruct and explain a term that you will inevitably hear when you are looking at rooflight specifications, and that’s ‘thermal break’.

So, what is a thermal break?

Most modern rooflights are manufactured with an aluminium frame. That’s because aluminium is lightweight, durable and requires a lot less maintenance than wood, making it an excellent choice to be used in rooflights. But aluminium isn’t a very good insulator. In fact, it’s a really good conductor of heat, which means the precious warmth from within your home would escape outside if your rooflight frame was constructed solely from aluminium.

That’s where a thermal break comes in…

A thermal break is basically a piece of material that’s placed in the frame of a rooflight to minimise heat loss. Rooflight manufacturers, like us, use them to ensure their products retain maximum thermal performance.

At Roof Maker, dependent on the rooflight, we use a range of materials such as resin, silicone, polyamide and EPS between the conductive aluminium components of the frames. Sandwiched in the frame, these materials bridge the gap to vastly reduce cold transfer, ensuring our rooflights always provide superb thermal insulation.

Many of our rooflights also feature a fully insulated frame, offering far superior thermal insulation than other rooflights on the market which only have a minimal thermal break. It is for this reason that Roof Maker’s fixed flat rooflights are the only certified skylights in the UK that are recommended by the Passive House Trust – the rigorous design and construction standard which aims for optimal energy efficiency.

Furthermore, the thermal breaks we use also help boost the rigidity and structural integrity of the frame, which means you can rest assured that your rooflight is durable enough to withstand even the most adverse weather conditions.

Thermal breaks and condensation

Now you might be wondering, what has condensation got to do with thermal breaks? The answer is quite a lot, actually.

When a rooflight is located over a room with high humidity, like a kitchen or bathroom,  there is a chance that condensation will form on its frame if it doesn’t have a thermal break installed. That’s because the lack of thermal break leads to the aluminium frame being much colder than the humid air inside your home. As soon as the warmer air makes contact with the colder frame, condensation appears – it’s something often referred to as ‘cold bridging’.

To reduce this happening, we install thermal breaks inside the aluminium framework. So not only do thermal breaks prevent precious warmth escaping from your home, they also greatly reduce the chances of condensation forming on your rooflight frame.

Thermal breaks perfectly complement our Reflex® Glass

All Roof Maker rooflights are fitted with our very own specialist Reflex® Glass. It’s a glazing product that boasts super insulating properties to significantly reduce heat loss from your home, something that’s especially crucial during the winter and particularly for those who live in exposed areas.

Constructed from two, three or even four panes of Reflex® Glass, each separated by an argon-filled cavity and a foam spacer, our rooflights provide exceptional insulation. This not only keeps your home warmer when you need it most, but also helps lower your energy bills (it’s win-win).

[Related reading: What type of rooflight glass should I opt for?]

The bottom line is we are extremely proud of our Reflex®  Glass and totally confident in its ability to help insulate your home. So there’s no way on earth we would undo all that good work by not suitably insulating our rooflight frames too.

Are you considering buying a rooflight or roof lantern for your home? If you are, call Roof Maker on 0116 269 6297. Our rooflight experts will help you to choose the right solution for your needs. Alternatively, visit our showroom or get a quote online.