Most Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you have a printed catalog?
- How do I get pricing for your products?
- Do you sell SkyTiles alone that we can use to replace the plastic lenses of our existing fluorescent light fixtures?
- How do I design my SkyCeiling™ or Luminous Virtual Window™?
- What is the difference between a Luminous SkyCeiling™ and an Ambient SkyCeiling?
- What is the product warranty?
- What is a 'Sky Designer'?
- How do I order a SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window?
- How do I select and approve of images for my project?
- How quickly will I get my order, what are your lead times?
- How do I specify or submit The Sky Factory for my project?
- Do you sell and ship internationally?
- Do you offer wholesale pricing, or bulk order discounts?
- How can I see your products installed; do you have showrooms?
- Some of the sky images are not the same shape as our ceiling design; can we still choose one of them?
- Can we pick a landscape photograph for the SkyCeiling?
- Can you make a SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window using a photograph that I supply?
- How big can you make a SkyCeiling?
Lighting & Technical Questions
- What is a 'Luminous SkyTile Elevator™'?
- Do you make the lighting systems for your products?
- Is there research on the benefits of SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows?
- How do I choose between T-5 fluorescent and EcoSlim LED lighting for my Luminous SkyCeiling?
- Can we use our own lighting system with a Luminous SkyCeiling?
- Do you make SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows that will work in MRI suites, even with the 3T machines?
- How much light does a SkyCeiling provide to a room?
- What is the energy consumption of a Luminous SkyCeiling?
- How much ceiling clearance is required?
- How long do SkyTiles last?
- Are the products safe and certified?
- Why we use inkjet printing, not Duratrans.
- Can the EcoSlim power supplies be used for more than one room?
- Does the dimmer control for the EcoSlim power system control all branch circuits within the power system simultaneously, or can the individual branch circuits be controlled separately?
- Can multiple EcoSlim power systems with the dimming option be operated with one dimmer control?
- Does a SkyCeiling come as one piece, or is it in pieces?
- Can I install a SkyCeiling myself?
- Can I see the installation instructions before I order?
Do you have a printed catalog?
Hoping to save some trees, we don't print traditional paper image catalogs. We do have brochures that describe our products. You may request a brochure here. You will also find complete information in other sections of The Sky Factory website, especially in the Products, Portfolio and Image Catalog sections.
How do I get pricing for your products?
Our products are typically custom-designed for each client. For this reason we ask that you contact us for precise, free quotations. To request a specific quote simply contact one of our Sky Designers by email or phone. Contact Us.
Do you sell SkyTiles alone that we can use to replace the plastic lenses of our existing fluorescent light fixtures?
We don't, and here's why: The goal of a Luminous SkyCeiling is to create an authentic illusion of sky. Our light boxes (called 'troffers') have been designed to evenly illuminate the Luminous SkyTile, which makes it look like real sky (along with the daylight-balanced lights, the 3-D look created by the Luminous SkyTile Elevators, and the high quality of the photographs). Standard fluorescent light fixtures are too shallow to evenly illuminate a Luminous SkyTile, and will create bright and dim stripes that will destroy the subtlety of the illusion. For this reason we don't supply Luminous SkyTiles without the complete compliment of Luminous SkyCeiling components.
How do I design my SkyCeiling™ or Luminous Virtual Window™?
A short answer is: Call one of our Sky Designers. They will walk you through the design and ordering process. A Sky Designer will generally ask about your facility and its use (i.e.: residential-dining room, or healthcare-MRI suite), the dimensions of the project space you are undertaking, (i.e.: 9 foot ceiling in 16x20 foot room), and the desired aesthetic effect. The Sky Designers can also help you with other aspects, such as optimal SkyCeiling size, orientation, and image choices.
Before calling, it may be helpful to take a good look at our website, especially the Products, Portfolio and Image Catalog sections. By becoming familiar with the varieties of SkyCeilings, and the range of images available for your choice, your initial conversation with a Sky Designer will be more productive.
What is the difference between a Luminous SkyCeiling™ and an Ambient SkyCeiling?
Luminous SkyCeilings utilize Luminous SkyTiles, translucent sky image panels that fit into a hung ceiling. They are illuminated from behind by our custom lighting systems. Luminous SkyCeilings illuminated by fluorescent T5 lamps require 9" of clearance from the bottom of the hung ceiling to the hard ceiling deck above. EcoSlim LED lighting requires less than 4” clearance. Although simple to install, we recommend using a certified professional.
Ambient SkyCeilings, are opaque sky image panels that take the place of acoustic ceiling tiles in a hung, modular ceiling. They are solid and have no lights behind them. They are illuminated by the ambient light in a room, by specialty lighting installed on the walls, or lighting installed in a custom built cove near the ceiling. Because there is no lighting behind an Ambient SkyCeiling, there is no need for additional clearance above the hung ceiling. Ambient SkyCeilings are very easy to install and are less expensive (in terms of price per sq. ft.) than Luminous SkyCeilings.
What is the product warranty?
We warranty our materials and workmanship. Our commitment is to your satisfaction with Sky Factory products. In warranty or not, it is the culture of our company to address and resolve all customer issues to everyone’s satisfaction. Review our warranty.
What is a 'Sky Designer'?
Sky Designers are the people who will help you design and order SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows. The Sky Designers have helped to design hundreds of projects for our clients (architects, general contractors, facilities managers, home owners, etc.) - they can answer your questions, make suggestions based on our experience, provide free quotations, and help with your image selection. After you have had a good look at our website, contact a Sky Designer to get your project underway.
How do I order a SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window?
Second, contact one of our Sky Designers, who will walk you through the design, pricing, and ordering of your SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window.
How do I select and approve of images for my project?
Before placing an order, please visit the Image Catalog for your chosen product, SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window. There are many images to choose from*. If you would like guidance or suggestions on choosing your images, please contact one of our Sky Designers.
For SkyCeilings: Once you have made your image selection(s), send us an email or fax with your reflected ceiling plan (RCP). If you know how a person will be oriented when they are laying beneath the SkyCeiling (i.e., in a healthcare installation, spa or bedroom), please mark down the laying person's orientation - a stick figure would be fine. Please include the project name and Image ID (i.e., 00s01 or se-ck004).
Once we receive your image selection, within 2 - 3 business days you will receive an email from us with attached JPEG illustrations of your selected images configured for your installation. If you find these images acceptable - the image is correct, size is correct, and grid is positioned appropriately - please reply to the email stating that you approve of the illustration(s). If you wish us to revise your images, we are happy to do so. Please reply to the email, or call us to discuss your needs.We need your image approval within 5 business days from the day you receive our email with the installation illustrations. Delay in approval may cause a delay in hitting our targeted shipping date for your order.
Custom images. If you see an image you like but it is not in the size or shape you need please notify a Sky Designer so that our graphics team can recompose an appropriate SkyCeiling image for you.
NOTE: We need your image approval before we can assign your project to production and provide you with an exact shipping date.
* SkyCeiling images that begin with SE (Signature Edition) have an additional cost associated with them. Luminous Virtual Windows have the cost of Signature Edition images built into the pricing.
How quickly will I get my order, what are your lead times?
Our leads time are: 4 weeks for rectilinear SkyCeilings, and 6 weeks for shaped SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows. The lead times become effective when (1) we have received your deposit, and (2) we have your final approval for the image(s) for your project. If our lead times do not work with your deadline, please go over your requirements with your Sky Designer. In all cases we will try to accommodate your needs. In most cases we are able to do so.
How do I specify or submit The Sky Factory for my project?
Call or email one of our Sky Designers with your project description, reflected ceiling plan (RCP), and size. We will be happy to provide part numbers and quantities specific to your project. We will also provide submittal forms with your quote. Technical specifications, guide specifications, and installation instructions are available for all products in the Product Documentation section. On very large orders, we can pass on the savings that we achieve through large-volume orders of components and raw materials.
Do you sell and ship internationally?
Yes, we manufacture to both imperial and metric standards that comply with most ceiling systems, and ship our products to clients worldwide. Wherever possible we work through our network of International Partners.
Do you offer wholesale pricing, or bulk order discounts?
We are a 'factory direct' operation, selling and shipping directly to our clients. We do not have the margin in our pricing to create lower 'wholesale' pricing. Our pricing is based on the fact that we deal directly with our clients, saving layers of distribution costs. This helps keep our prices affordable. We also manufacture all of our products, saving the costs of outsourcing components as well as assuring you of a uniformly high quality product.
On very large orders, we can pass on the savings that we achieve through large-volume orders of components and raw materials.
How can I see your products installed; do you have showrooms?
Because we are a 'factory direct' company, we do not maintain showrooms or have dealers.
We will be happy to send you 4 inch sample Ambient or Luminous SkyTiles. The samples will give you a good idea of the quality of the printing, and the durability of the materials. We can also help you initiate a visit to a SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window installation in your area. Please contact a Sky Designer to discuss visiting an installation, or contact the SkyMobile Team to find out when our mobile showroom will be in your area.
Some of the sky images are not the same shape as our ceiling design; can we still choose one of them?
Choose any image in the Image Library, then contact a Sky Designer to help you determine what will work in your environment. The skilled artists on our Graphics Team will customize your selected image and provide you with a rendering of the sky-composition for your ceiling. Once you approve the design the order can proceed.
Can we pick a landscape photograph for the SkyCeiling?
While we want to honor our client's requests, we feel that landscape images are best suited to our Luminous Virtual Windows, and sky images belong on the ceiling in SkyCeilings. We strive to provide authentic illusions of sky and landscape that utilize the observer's habits of perception to trigger the psycho-physiological responses of deep relaxation and inner peace. Therefore we do not recommend that you place landscapes on the ceiling. To do so has the potential to create subtle confusion or disorientation in the mind of the observer. This is an especially important consideration in healthcare facilities where the SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window is meant to contribute a familiar, calming and relaxing element to the environment.
Can you make a SkyCeiling or Luminous Virtual Window using a photograph that I supply?
We will be happy to evaluate a photograph that you provide, either as a large format transparency or high-resolution digital file. Our products feature very large photographic reproductions that require very large digital image files. If your photograph meets the technical requirements for our standards of reproduction, we will be able to use it.
On the other hand, we have hundreds of images to choose from, and can combine images to make a nearly limitless number of possible images for your installation. In nearly every case, our clients have been able to find a photograph from our Image Catalog that perfectly suits their requirements. We are also happy to help you source the work of other photographers not presently represented in our signature edition.
How big can you make a SkyCeiling?
The only limit to the size of our installations is the size of the ceiling. We work with malls, conference rooms and other large, open areas. With all our installations the goal is to create an effective illusion of nature - striving to give every viewer the positive experience of the sky itself.
To achieve this goal, we photograph an entire sky with multiple, high-resolution exposures and digitally 'stitch' the resulting images together to create one large sky.
Our approach to large SkyCeiling installations is very different from other companies who put pictures on ceilings. Often, to cover a large space, companies will repeat the same image. Or, they will enlarge a single image to make it fill the space while degrading the image quality in the process. Neither approach is acceptable to us because these techniques destroy the authenticity of the illusion of a vast and beautiful sky.
What is a 'Luminous SkyTile Elevator™'?
The Luminous SkyTile Elevator is the patented lightweight aluminum frame that rests on the T-bar grid of a modular ceiling. It takes the place of an acoustic tile. It is also the seat for the Luminous SkyTile, the image component of a Luminous SkyCeiling. The 'Elevator' serves a couple of important purposes:
- It lifts the SkyTile up about 1¼ inches, eliminating the shadows or reflections that are otherwise cast by the vertical component of ceiling grid T-bar.
- The 'Elevator' also gives the ceiling grid a more substantial, 3-dimensional appearance, like the real structural element in a skylight.
The 'Elevator' is one of the key components of a Luminous SkyCeiling contributing to the illusion of a real skylight.
Do you make the lighting systems for your products?
We have designed, and manufacture our own lighting systems, both T-5 fluorescent, and our EcoSlim™ edge-lit LED fixtures for MRI and other environments. Our light-boxes are an integral component of Luminous SkyCeilings, and contribute to the illusion of real sky. These lighting systems are designed to evenly light the image and eliminate 'hotspots,' 'striping', shadows and internal reflections.
Our lighting is daylight balanced: The T-5 fluorescent and LED systems have a color temperature of 6500K, mimicking the daylight spectrum. Our printed images are color-balanced to this range of color temperature to optimally reproduce the delicate colors of the sky. The important point here is that the senses and mind do not distinguish between 6500K and real daylight.
Is there research on the benefits of SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows?
There is a large body of scientific research in support of the use of simulated views to nature to improve the quality and efficacy of healthcare environments. Patients in rooms with views to nature, either real or simulated, tend to use less pain medication, to have shorter hospital stays, to experience less stress and depression during hospital stays, along with other researched benefits. Dr. Roger Ulrich, the most cited international researcher on healthcare design has often emphasized that the researched benefits of views to nature are statistically significant and make it well worth incorporating views to nature, either real or simulated, in healthcare settings.
There is strong anecdotal evidence for the positive benefits of our products. But, anecdotal evidence needs to be scientifically verified. To that end, we are collaborating with researchers who are investigating the effects and benefits of our products. Researchers at Texas Tech University have completed the first of a two-part study into the effects of Sky Factory sky-image compositions. Sky Factory also has an open invitation to collaborate with researchers interested in investigating our products. Read about these studies and our research program on our Scientific Research page.
A pilot study in 2005 entitled "Influence of The Sky Factory SkyCeilings™ in the Workplace" was done by Mark, Snedaker and Stock at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. In their summary they said, "The Sky Factory can and should claim that their Luminous SkyCeilings contribute to employee's perceived productivity. In addition, our analysis clearly shows that the installation of Sky Factory ceiling tiles improves the attitude of employees. The attitude of employees correlates highly with perceived productivity."
How do I choose between T-5 fluorescent and EcoSlim LED lighting for my Luminous SkyCeiling?
T-5 fluorescent lighting is an energy-efficient and long lasting source of real daylight-balanced lighting for your SkyCeiling. It is the most popular choice, and the least expensive of our two systems.
EcoSlim LED lighting is a system that we developed for use in MRI suites and other shielded facilities, where elimination of radio frequency interference (RFI) is a requirement. LED solid-state lighting is an up-and-coming technology that we will see in a growing number of lighting applications. Our EcoSlim LED lighting costs 15% less to operate than our T5 fluorescent systems. The EcoSlim LEDs will have a useful life from 40,000 to 100,000 hours vs. 14,000 - 20,000 for the high-efficiency (HF) T-5 lamps. LED technology is newer and more complex than fluorescent, and hence is more expensive, approximately 80% more. But, although initial cost is higher, long life, lower operating costs, and less maintenance make LED a smart choice.
When clients seek higher-efficiency, durability, and low maintenance, we recommend going with the EcoSlim LED lighting.
Can we use our own lighting system with a Luminous SkyCeiling?
The short answer is 'no,' and here's why: The critical issues with lighting a Luminous SkyCeiling are:
- that the color temperature of the lighting be in the daylight range, 6100-6500K, and
- that the illumination of the Luminous SkyTile is uniform from edge to edge.
If we sold a Luminous SkyCeiling without our lighting we would not be certain that it would perform as required from an aesthetic or illusion point of view, and, because of heat and UV factors common in other systems, we would not be able to warranty the system. For this reason, and because we want our SkyCeilings to always deliver the high quality that we design and build into them, we do not sell Luminous SkyCeilings without our lighting systems.
Do you make SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows that will work in MRI suites, even with the 3T machines?
Yes, our SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows are routinely installed in MRI suites and are fully guaranteed to be RFI free. To achieve this with Luminous SkyCeilings or Luminous Virtual Windows, we use LED (light emitting diode), a solid state DC technology. The Sky Factory developed the world's first, LED image illumination system. Sky Factory EcoSlim LED lighting for MRIs, produces the optimal temperature balance and even illumination critical to the proper functioning of our virtual skylights. When you order one of our products for an MRI installation it will come with Sky Factory EcoSlim LED lighting.
How much light does a SkyCeiling provide to a room?
The light from a Luminous SkyCeiling will positively influence the illumination quality of a room, providing approximately 15 foot-candles at 4 feet below the SkyCeiling. We do point out, though, that the Luminous SkyCeiling is not intended to function as a "task" light.
What is the energy consumption of a Luminous SkyCeiling?
A Luminous SkyCeiling (both fluorescent and LED) consumes approx. 7 watts per sq. ft.
How much ceiling clearance is required?
With a T5 fluorescent system, you'll need 9" from the room-side surface of the modular ceiling grid to the hard ceiling deck or lowest obstacle directly above the SkyCeiling. This distance will accommodate the Luminous SkyTile Elevator, the Luminous SkyTile, and the lighting troffer and its wiring.
With the EcoSlim LED lighting system you will need only 4” of clearance.
Please contact one of our Sky Designers to discuss your space requirements and solutions if clearance is an issue.
How long do SkyTiles last?
SkyTiles are made of a durable acrylic material that will last without yellowing for many, many years. The image is printed on a translucent media that is laminated to the acrylic panel. The vinyl lamination surface is also durable, and can be safely handled and washed with soap and water or an alcohol wipe. The images are printed with pigment inks that are rated for archival use when kept under gallery-like conditions.
However, a Luminous SkyTile is subjected to conditions quite unlike a gallery, being close to a moderately strong light source. While UV ratings for our lighting systems are the lowest in the lighting industry, (and it is UV that is most damaging to printed images) some color shift will eventually occur. Our current ink supplier guarantees 10 years without color shift or fading. We presently guarantee the Luminous SkyTiles for 6 years - the length of our testing period. You can expect to see no change over that time. If for any reason, your Luminous SkyTiles fade appreciably before the 6 years, we will replace them. After 6 years, you can trade in your SkyTiles for new ones through our recycle and renewal program, saving 20% off the price of new SkyTiles.
Ambient SkyTiles, which do not have transmitted light, have a 10-year warranty.
Are the products safe and certified?
Sky Factory products are certified to Luminaire Standards UL 1598, UL8750, CSA 22.2 and CE EN60598. In addition the Sky Tiles are available in a special formulation with extended fire retardant properties to meet local jurisdictions in Canada and France. Widespread applications in California Seismic Zones for over 8 years have proven The Sky Factory products meet the tough CBC, OSHPD, FEMA 178 and HSSA requirements.
Why we use inkjet printing, not Duratrans.
Inkjet printing emerged commercially in the early 1990s, and developed quickly into the de facto printing option for digital images. ‘Inkjet’ is a generic term referring to printers that ‘spray’ controlled amounts of ink onto specially coated media. There are several technologies that fall under the inkjet umbrella. Over the last two decades inkjet printing has become very refined, with great advances in print head and ink technology. Because inkjet printing is essentially simple, it remains an affordable, as well as a premium choice for both commercial and fine art applications in all sizes. Much fine art printing, including printing of b/w and color photographs, is now done using archival inkjet printers for the following reasons:
- Accurate color rendering. Quality inkjet is capable of far greater accuracy and subtle color rendering than Duratrans from the same files. Quality fine art and fine art reproductions are now printed using permanent archival pigment inks on high grade acid-free media. Most fine art photographic reproduction for exhibition and sale is now done using inkjet printing.
- Permanency. Inkjet permanent pigment inks now surpass Duratrans in fade and UV resistance. The underlying media have comparably long expected life spans.
- Resolution. Inkjet printing is capable of extremely fine resolution. Sky Factory’s new equipment prints at 2400dpi for an extremely smooth and grain-less look, unlike the visible grain of Duratrans reproductions.
- Environmental impact. The highest quality (color, resolution, etc.) inkjet technology is water-based with no VOCs. Unfortunately, Duratrans chemistry is not environmentally friendly and must be highly controlled for both VOCs and toxic effluents.
- Image Control. Inkjet technology, like many digital imaging technologies, provides greater control to the creators of images. As is the case at The Sky Factory, inkjet printing can be brought in-house where designers and artists can coordinate color management, run color checks, and directly supervise quality control. Because Duratrans is typically out-sourced to a commercial lab, it does not permit the same careful quality control by the image creators.
Sky Factory’s nature images require the finest reproduction possible to capture the subtle colors and delicate gradations of colors inherent in nature. Accurate reproduction of nature’s color is critical to the creation of illusory skies that can trigger genuine relaxation. For these important aesthetic reasons, as well as the technical, financial, and longevity advantages of inkjet printing, Sky Factory artists use superior inkjet printing for all still image reproduction.
* Duratrans™ is a trademarked Kodak photographic media composed of a translucent plastic base and photographic emulsion. It is exposed photographically (conventionally or digital laser) and chemically processed, like film. Duratrans is also a genericized trademark, used the way that Xerox and Kleenex brand names are, and has become an identifier referring to any of the large format film transparency photo media used for backlit advertising graphics, like those found in airports and other public spaces. Because of their size and required chemical processing, Duratrans are produced in commercial labs.
Can the EcoSlim power supplies be used for more than one room?
Yes they can. The only limitation is the output capacity of the Power Supply itself. Care should be taken not to exceed the number of EcoSlim Luminaries per Branch Circuit as defined in the "Electrical Drawing Packet" in our Website Documentation under the Section "EcoSlim LED With Dimmer Option Installation Instructions"
Does the dimmer control for the EcoSlim power system control all branch circuits within the power system simultaneously, or can the individual branch circuits be controlled separately?
All Branches are controlled simultaneously (one controller per supply), therefore it requires separate Power Supplies for each area or room that needs its own Dimmer Control.
Can multiple EcoSlim power systems with the dimming option be operated with one dimmer control?
Yes they can. There is no practical limit.
Does a SkyCeiling come as one piece, or is it in pieces?
SkyCeilings are modular, and do come in pieces to be assembled during installation. SkyCeilings are installed in modular, 'hung' ceiling grids (which we supply only in circular or elliptical SkyCeilings). There are 3 types of components in a Luminous SkyCeiling: (1) The Luminous SkyTile Elevators set into each space in the ceiling grid; (2) the Luminous SkyTiles set into the top of the Elevator, one per Elevator; and, (3) the lighting troffer (light box housing and lamps).
An Ambient SkyCeiling is composed of Ambient SkyTiles that are set directly into the ceiling grid. There are no Elevators or lighting systems included with an Ambient SkyCeiling although we can include fixtures and lamps for cove lighting - one of the most beautiful ways to illuminate an Ambient SkyCeiling.
Can I install a SkyCeiling myself?
It is very easy to install an Ambient SkyCeiling. Simply remove the acoustic tiles from the hung ceiling (if applicable), and replace them with the Ambient SkyTiles according to the supplied image map.
A Luminous SkyCeiling needs to have the Sky Factory light troffers installed, wired and switched. If you are familiar with electrical wiring, this is a straightforward task. In commercial and institutional installations, a registered electrician does the installation. Installing the Luminous SkyTile Elevators and the Luminous SkyTiles is a matter of setting them into place. There are no fasteners, screws, or adhesives to deal with.
Can I see the installation instructions before I order?
Yes, instructions and other technical documents related to our products are available in the Product Documentation section.
What is the 'SkyMobile'?
The SkyMobile is The Sky Factory's gallery on wheels, traveling North America to bring you direct experience of Sky Factory products; Luminous SkyCeilings™, Luminous Virtual Windows™ and eScape. In the SkyMobile you'll see how beautiful illusions of nature can transform confined spaces, as well as increase user productivity and comfort. Click here for more information about the SkyMobile.
Are your products 'green', is the Sky Factory a 'green' company?
The Sky Factory is concerned about all "quality" aspects of its products including their energy efficiency and the sources and environmental impact of materials. We are also active in our response to environmental concerns - recycling, reducing carbon emissions, attending to water and air quality and other areas generally associated with a 'green' approach to business.
The lighting systems used in our products are energy efficient T-5 fluorescent and LED technologies. We use aluminum and packing materials that have high recycled content. The company diligently recycles all waste materials. Even so, we are not satisfied with our present use and sources for such elements as acrylic polymers.
We have established a non-profit institute, Sustainability Research Institute Inc., www.sriinc.org, to promote sustainable practices in many areas of life. The Sky Factory is actively committed to opposing CAFO (hog factory) proliferation - in large part because of their devastation of the environment and negative impact on human and animal health.