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14 Ways to Increase Natural Light in a Room

The terms ‘rooflight’ and ‘skylight’ are often used interchangeably, but there are some differences between the two.

In this guide, we will examine the key differences between these two types of features, along with a detailed examination of the main benefits, types, features, and more of rooflights and skylights. Understanding these distinctions will help you to make informed decisions about which product is right for your home or business, based on considerations including budget, roof type, and your design preferences. 

Read on for more information.

Rooflights and skylights: Differences explained

While many people use the term rooflight and skylight interchangeably, there are some general differences between these two kinds of roof windows. In this section, we will explore the main differences between these two terms.

What is a rooflight?

A rooflight is a type of roof window that is often fitted to flat roofs. However, a rooflight can also be fitted to a pitched roof as well, fitted out of plane with the tiling on the roof. If a rooflight is fitted to a flat roof, it may need an upstand to ensure that water can drain off the glass.

Typically, a rooflight is flush with the roof, and does not open, but there are exceptions. They can provide natural light to a room without disrupting the architecture of the room too much, making them ideal for those for whom natural light is the chief concern.

What is a skylight?

In comparison to a rooflight, a skylight is more akin to a traditional window. They tend to be fitted onto pitched roofs, rather than flat roofs, and will usually protrude outwards from the roof, rather than sitting flush to it like a rooflight. They are often openable, though some are fixed.

While rooflights also tend to be flat, rectangular windows, a skylight can be one of several shapes, including pyramidal skylights.

How do rooflights and skylights differ from roof windows?

Another common term that you may be aware of is ‘roof windows’. While this may sound like a generic term, it actually has a strict definition as part of BS EN 14351-1:2010. This standard describes roof windows as installed in the same orientation and in plane with the roof. The roof in question is typically pitched at an angle of at least 15 degrees, while the roof window will then be fitted with flashing or a skirt to weatherproof it.

View our guide to roof windows for more information.

How do rooflights and skylights differ from roof lanterns?

Whereas rooflights and skylights are generally flat or sloping features, roof lanterns are raised structures that sit on top of the roof and are designed to allow light to enter a room from above. The sides of a roof lantern slope upwards towards the centre, creating a pyramid-like shape that allows maximum light penetration. 

Learn more about the differences between rooflights and roof lanterns, and view our complete guide to roof lanterns 

Types of rooflights and skylights

Flat rooflights

Flat rooflights are perfect for visually expanding areas and other closed-in dark spaces, transforming them with daylight and stunning sky views. One of the most popular rooflight products, flat rooflights represent fantastic value.

Opening rooflights

Opening rooflights provide a combination of style, versatility and practicality. Offered in both electric and manual opening, these rooflights are excellent for providing ventilation as well as light.

Fixed rooflights

Fixed rooflights, also known as non-opening rooflights, are incredibly popular in today’s world. This is because of the increasing importance that many modern architects place on sunlight within properties.

Ventilated rooflights

Ventilated skylights open to improve ventilation in a room, whether it’s a commercial space, a living room, an attic, or more. They’re also specifically designed to release moist or hot air that can cause condensation in these rooms. 

Aluminium skylights

Beautifully designed, aluminium skylights offer high-performing and visually striking solutions for those looking to increase natural light and enliven their space.

Pyramid skylights

Pyramid skylights are an elegant and stylish solution to add the most possible light to any room. They provide an ultra-slim take on the traditional roof lantern design, whilst remaining a unique feature to any home or business.

Polycarbonate rooflights

Long-lasting and versatile, polycarbonate is a reliable plastic that’s used extensively in construction. Polycarbonate rooflights are suitable for different types of roofs, and offer a simple way to increase natural light in a home or workspace.

Conservation rooflights

Conservation rooflights are intended to replicate an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. They’re made with easy-installation in mind, so as not to disturb or damage the surrounding roof of an older building.

Circular rooflights

Circular rooflights are windows placed on a roof that are designed in a circular shape. They’re generally installed on flat or pitched roofs, and are a great way to increase natural light in the room below. 

Custom rooflights

Custom rooflights are made bespoke to meet your requirements, from size to specification, whatever your rooflight design. They give you the freedom to select features that meet your needs.

Domed rooflights

Dome rooflights are durable and visually stunning, and are a great way to get more natural light into your space. A perfect centrepiece to any room.

Walk on rooflights

Walk on rooflights are ideal for basement conversions or roof terraces, allowing natural light to flow into the room below. Plus, they possess that wow factor which will impress everyone. 

Electric rooflights

Electric opening rooflights are types of rooflights that use electrical systems to open or close. They feature all the benefits of normal rooflights, such as extra natural light and improved ventilation, with the added benefit of being able to open it with ease. 

Rooflight and skylight guide:

Key benefits

There are a range of benefits of adding rooflights and skylights to your home, including:

Learn more in our guide to the benefits of skylights.

How much do rooflights and skylights cost?

The cost of rooflights and skylights varies depending on factors like size, style, scope, materials, features, glazing, and so much more. At Toughened Glass Systems, you’ll find rooflights from as little as £100 to around £12,000, not including VAT.

You can learn more about rooflight and skylight cost in our helpful guide.

Do rooflights and skylights require planning permission?

Rooflight or skylight installations will generally fall under the purview of ‘permitted development’ in the UK, meaning that you will not need to seek permission to have one of these windows installed, provided they meet certain energy efficiency and safety standards.

Learn more about planning permission regulations for rooflights and skylights.

What size rooflight do I need?

The most common sizes for a rooflight are between 412mm (41.2cm) to 3000mm (300cm) in width, and between 520mm (52cm) to 2025mm (202.5cm) in length. However, the actual size of your rooflight will be dependent on whether they are installed pitched or flat, if they have opening options, and the general shape of the rooflight.

View our rooflight size guide for more information.

Are rooflights energy efficient?

There are several ways that rooflights and skylights can make your building more energy efficient, including increasing natural light and increasing solar heat.

Learn more in our guide to energy efficient skylights.

Can rooflights add value to your home?

Rooflights and skylights can add a great deal of value to your home, and are popular with prospective buyers for their aesthetic and practical qualities. Our article on rooflights increasing home value covers this in more detail.

Considerations before buying a rooflight or skylight

There are several things you should consider before buying a rooglight or skylight, such as its size, location, cost, energy efficiency, and maintenance requirements.

Our guide to considerations before buying a rooflight will be helpful if you’re considering purchasing either.

Making a decision

As we have covered earlier in this blog, there is a great deal of crossover between the definition of rooflight and skylight. If this is the case, how should you decide between a rooflight or a skylight for your home? There are many types of skylights and rooflights, so in this section, we will explore these two types of windows and how to decide which one is right for you.

For flat roofs

If you have a flat roof, a rooflight may be a good option – these do not protrude out from the roof and can often be installed on roofs with low pitches. Another great option for flat roofs is a roof lantern, which extend dramatically out from the roof to offer an extension on the plane of the roof, as well as plenty of natural light.

For pitched roofs

For pitched roofs, either skylights or rooflights are strong options, and there are many types of skylights available to you depending on the pitch of your roof. It’s also possible to add skylights with different key features, specially designed for various rooms in your house. Some examples of this type of skylight include kitchen skylights and living room skylights

Now you know the differences between rooflights and skylights

We hope that this guide has been helpful. As you can see, while the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same, and both types of windows differ from roof windows and roof lanterns. If you are interested in purchasing either a rooflight or a skylight, or would like to learn more, please contact us today! Our expert team will be happy to help you.

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Based on 210 reviews
Bob toploft
Bob toploft
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I am the owner of Top loft company ltd, after reviewing reviews from various companies I ordered 2 juliet balconies from tgs arrived within 3 weeks, comunications and help was brilliant. Thanks for all your help.
Jim H
Jim H
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Great service from the team. Easy to order, good buying guidance and clear install instructions for my builder. Rooflights look absolutely great! The team at TGS couldn't have been more helpful in organising a smaller delivery vehicle to help with restricted access. Highly recommend TGS.
Jack Smith
Jack Smith
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Great service from a very knowledgeable company. Thanks team Toughened Glass Systems.
Paul Smith
Paul Smith
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I was spending a lot of money on several rooflights so I wanted to make sure I got it right and I did. The professionalism, expertise and the quality of the roof lanterns really set Toughened Glass Systems apart.
Tyrone Eldridge
Tyrone Eldridge
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There are no complaints about the experience with TGS. The entire process of ordering, supplying and delivering was flawless. I would really recommend you order your flat roof sky lanterns from these guys.
Robert Childers
Robert Childers
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Best place for rooflights, they supply many different types and options. Thanks for all your support Toughened Glass Systems!
John Smith
John Smith
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The glass balustrade gives us an amazing view onto the lake outside. So happy we ended up going for the frameless glass balcony from Toughened Glass Systems instead of one with posts
Louise Newsome
Louise Newsome
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My job is to design the interiors for a lot of houses and a lot of times the hardest part was when the client wanted some really inexpensive rooflights that should look like some contemporary ones as well. That until I found Toughened Glass Systems and started working with them more and more. They have a lot of this kind of stuff at a very decent price, a price for anyone I can say. If you’re looking for cheap skylights for flat roofs or any types of roof lights, they probably have something for you.
Krystina Taylor
Krystina Taylor
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Always kept us up to date with our order even when delayed by a few days. Great service from the start and good quality glass balcony delivered.