The difference between a roof window, rooflight and skylight

May 21, 2019
New roof coverings but without the skylights – roof windows

If have a room in your house that is dark or dimly lit, or if you’ve got small windows that let in a fraction of the natural light that you crave, you might conduct an online search that throws up a wealth of results, namely several names for seemingly the same product.  

So are they all the same? Because there can be some confusion between what the different terms actually are: roof window, rooflight and skylight, and which one is the best one for your home.

In essence, any glazed unit that sits in the roof and allows natural light to bathe the room below, is all the same thing. Call it what you want. It’s a window in the roof that lets in light.

However, saying that, there are a few differences that should be noted.

What is a roof window

A roof window is the easiest to define because it is covered under BS EN 14351-1:2010. This British standard decrees that a roof window must be installed at the same sloping plane as the roof, in orientation with it, at a minimum 15 degree pitch.

When you think of a roof window, think of Velux window and you won’t go far wrong.

All roof windows should be CE marked and manufacturers should provide a declaration of performance with each unit to show how they are expected to perform under different weather conditions. Because why would you want to install a product that is not going to be able to withstand heavy rain followed by brief spells of bright sunshine – hello Spring in the UK? Plus, you don’t want your roof window to fog up everytime the air temperature changes.

Roof windows are also only usually available in standard sizes, as stipulated by the manufacturer, which means they tend to be smaller than rooflights. Here at Roof Lanterns UK, we offer a wide range of roof windows for you to choose from.

What is a skylight

According to Google, a skylight is a window installed in a roof or ceiling. Narrowing this down, if you look through the glazed space in your roof and you can only see sky, you’re well within your rights to call the window in your roof a skylight. Also, if you’re American you are more likely to call your window in your roof a skylight. It’s us Brits who might refer to a skylight as a rooflight.

What is a rooflight

A rooflight is basically a skylight, again Google defines this as an opening on a roof that admits light, not hugely helpful. However, these are glazed units that are typically installed on a flat roof.

Here at Roof Lanterns UK, we use the terms skylight and roof light interchangeably, as we consider them to be the same glazed product.

The skylights (or rooflights) manufactured by Roof Lanterns UK come in a wide variety of styles, suitable for all roof types, from domed to flat roofs. There is one point to note with our rooflights, we don’t tend to make them smaller than 500 x 500, however we can make them (as long as your requirements are bigger than that) to any size you desire.

The other great thing about our skylights is that they are made from timber or oak, and we can colour them or stain them to tie in with your other windows, or we can give them a lick of paint from our Farrow and Ball paint selection.

What are the benefits of having a window in the roof?

  • You’ll open your home up by allowing in a wealth of natural light.
  • If you’re after better ventilation in your home, you have come to the right place. By installing a non-fixed model, you can allow the air to circulate around your home much more freely.
  • If you opt for a skylight, you could even make yours a walk-on one, perfect for lighting basement rooms without taking away any outside space.
  • Roof windows have to meet certain thermal specifications, so you don’t need to worry about the thermal properties of your new window. If anything, it will make your home that much more energy efficient.

Finally, which one should I go for – a roof light or a roof window?

This depends on where you are planning on installing it. If you are looking at putting a window into a flat roof, you’ll want a roof light, if on the other hand you want to open up a space on a pitched roof, you’ll be needing to install a roof window.

For any further enquiries get in touch today.

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