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 the best lighting technology to power 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. Contact us to request a brochure. You will also find complete information in other sections of The Sky Factory website, especially in the Products, Documentation, Portfolio and Image Library 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.
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 Library 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 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 Library 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?
Do you make the lighting systems for your products?
We design and manufacture our own lighting systems for both the EcoSlim™ edge-lit and EcoPlus™ backlit LED fixtures used in MRI and other RFI-free environments. Our light-boxes are an integral component of our Luminous SkyCeilings, significantly contributing 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: our LED (and T5) systems have a calibrated color temperature of 6500K, mimicking the daylight spectrum. Our printed images are carefully calibrated as well to reproduce the rich saturation and subtle hues of real skies with unmatched realism.
Our team of artists and engineers manipulate these variables in light intensity and color temperature to take advantage of the fact our senses and mind cannot easily 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 the best lighting technology to power my Luminous SkyCeiling?
Sky Factory offers a full range of lighting options. Our best-selling EcoSlim™ LED lighting system is designed for low ceiling clearance applications. It provides energy-efficient solid state lighting using edge-lit technology for the slimmest profile.
Our new EcoPlus™ LED lighting system is our most affordable LED system, making it the best option when ceiling clearance is not a factor. It uses backlit technology to deliver all the benefits of solid state lighting at the comparable cost of fluorescent lighting systems.
Both the EcoSlim LED and EcoPlus LED lighting systems are fully compatible with MRI environments and other shielded facilities where elimination of radio frequency interference is a requirement.
For a complete side-by-side comparison of key features and advantages for all our lighting systems, please visit our SkyCeiling Lighting Options page.
Can we use our own lighting system with a Luminous SkyCeiling?
No. Every element in our Luminous SkyCeilings is essential to engineer and produce our award-winning illusions of nature. If we lose control of a key component like light calibration, how could we guarantee the restorative effects of your installation?
Luminous SkyCeilings require that the color temperature of the lighting be within the daylight range (ideally between 12 noon and 3 pm), which corresponds to 6100 to 6500K. It also requires that the illumination of every single Luminous SkyTile is uniform from edge to edge.
All our LED and fluorescent light fixtures have been designed to provide flawless even illumination in all our Luminous SkyCeilings with daylight-balanced light. Calibrated lighting is an essential component in creating a credible illusion of real sky.
In addition, due to heat generation and other UV factors common in other systems, we would not be able to warranty the system. In order to deliver the highest quality to you we do not sell any of our Luminous SkyCeiling products without our own lighting systems.
Do you make SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows that will work in MRI suites, even with the 3T machines?
Yes, our Luminous SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows are routinely installed in MRI suites and are fully guaranteed to be Radio Frequency Free. Sky Factory developed the world’s first LED image illumination system and our quality sets the standard in the market. Our EcoSlim LED and EcoPlus LED lighting systems for MRI and other shielded environments are calibrated for the most even illumination at an optimal temperature balance. When you order one of our products for a RF-free environment, it will be equipped with our EcoSlim LED or EcoPlus LED lighting systems.
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?
Depending on the lighting system you choose, you'll need from 4.5 to 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 lightbox and its wiring.
Details about ceiling clearance and other technical aspects of the different lighting systems are on our lighting page.
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™, eSea 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. Visit the SkyMobile section of our website to see upcoming locations, and to schedule a visit.
Are your products 'green', is the Sky Factory a 'green' company?
Sky Factory is committed to outstanding quality in the design and manufacturing of our products. We evaluate the source of our materials, their environmental impact, as well as the energy efficiency of our operations. For the most part, we are a solar-powered business. We are committed to a 'green' approach to business by recycling, reducing carbon emissions, and attending to water and air quality, among other key factors of responsible environmental stewardship.
Our products are outfitted with energy efficient lighting systems using our in-house backlit or edge-lit LED technologies. We use aluminum and packing materials with high-recycled content. The company diligently recycles all waste materials. Even so, our product requires optical-quality acrylic polymers that are not readily recyclable.
We're committed to identifying new materials and technologies that will allow us to bypass these materials in the future. While this element in our products prevents them from being considered green, their application in enclosed interiors is by far a bone fide wellness initiative.
Our installations create restorative spaces for sustainable long-term occupancy in otherwise isolated interiors that mine human health and wellbeing.
Sky Factory is also committed to land, community, and good corporate citizenry. We have established the Sustainability Research Institute, www.sriinc.org, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable agricultural practices and education in a range of timely ecological issues.
As an Iowa-based company, Sky Factory is actively opposed to CAFO (hog factory) proliferation—in large part because of their devastation of the environment and negative impact on human and animal health.