If you’re confused about the various terms ‘roof light,’ ‘skylight’ or ‘roof window,’ and what is best in your case, then don’t worry. You wouldn’t be the first person to be confused by it. The fact is, there is little or no difference between the meanings of the different terms. It has just happened that, over time, these different terms have become popular alternatives for what is essentially the same thing. On this website, you will see these different terms cropping up frequently. This is because different people use different terms to search when, really, they are searching for the same thing. Whether you call it roof light, skylight or roof window, the aim remains the same: maximise the natural light levels (and in the cases of non-fixed models – ventilation too) coming into a room or living space. Here at Sunsquare, we specialise in flat roof models. Hopefully this clarification helps you with your decision. If you want to talk through the various options and models with an expert advisor, please contact us.
Uncovering the nuances between rooflights and skylights
In recent years, it may have been prudent to say that there is little or no difference between a rooflight and a skylight. Nevertheless, as the industry has evolved, at the time of writing in 2017, there are increasing nuances between the capabilities and uses of rooflights and skylights. Throughout the remainder of this article we will uncover those distinctions to help put you firmly in the picture.
What is a roof window?
Roof windows remain a popular feature in the eyes of homeowners. They tend to come in standardised sizes and specifications and their ‘off-the-shelf’ appeal is certainly recognised by those who don’t require a bespoke design that’s made to order for their home. Roof windows must be CE marked prior to sale, meaning manufacturers must be able to declare to customers how their units perform under rigorous test conditions. Roof windows are also included under British Standards regulations (BS EN 14351 – 1:2010) which states they must be fitted in the same orientation and in plane with the surrounding roof, normally at a minimum pitch of 15-degrees.
What is a rooflight?
Rooflights now tend to refer to products fitted within a flat roof, or installed on a pitched roof that’s positioned out of plane with the level of the tiling i.e. standing out from the roof line more so than a skylight or roof window would. Another key difference between a rooflight and a skylight is that the former can be installed within listed buildings where new window openings in walls are not permissible. That’s because rooflights do not need to alter the external aesthetics of a building in order to provide abundant levels of natural daylight to the interior.
Rooflights are also commonly installed onto an upstandor kerb system, creating enough height to ensure water run-off when fitted on flat roofs.
What is a skylight?
Today, a skylight refers commonly to products which are installed on traditional pitched roofs, as well as larger bespoke glazed units designed to be fitted on flat roofs and terraces, such as glass box extensions. The skylights installed onto flat roofs are very different to those fitted onto pitched roofs. They are capable of being fitted with electric motors for opening to offer much needed ventilation to interiors as well as roof access in some instances.
- Example types of skylight
Customers are really spoiled for choice regarding types of skylight. There is a high degree of customisation on offer, with the flexible design of skylights – able to be manufactured to very specific requirements – providing a big advantage in the amount of viable applications available.
Skylights can be manufactured according to the goals of your project, or to the nature of the installation space. Suitable models are available for walk-on flat roofs, or in lantern shape, or even domed and more elaborate configurations. In both residential and commercial properties, the potential options are honestly endless: from fixed units providing wide external views to smaller models with remote opening capability. You can read our blog on types of skylight for more detailed information.
As well as offering a range of shapes and sizes to choose from, skylights or rooflights can be constructed with different materials which affect their performance.
Generally, a skylight’s glazing is made of either plastic or glass – usually selected depending on a few potential factors, such as your local climate or budget. Plastic is less expensive, and used frequently in specially-shaped skylights, trading some of its long-term aesthetics for durability (being susceptible to scratching and discolouring over time).
Glass is more expensive, with longer lasting performance in terms of visual appeal, and available in a huge range of styles. Glass in skylights may be made from tempered or laminated glass to low-emissivity coatings or self-cleaning glass. Each optional extra offers a unique benefit, sometimes being combined into a final skylight product in order to meet extremely high energy and safety standards.
Choosing between frame materials - either PVC, timber or aluminium – is also a matter of choice, with relative pros and cons for each type depending on the particulars of your property.
Metal frames such as aluminium are increasingly popular, providing great aesthetics to period properties as well as contemporary houses with their tailorable thin framework. Timber is also a classic favourite among homeowners due to the unique wooden look provided, while the availability of timber-aluminium composites provide the best of both worlds. PVCu is an excellent option for those desiring low maintenance requirements, but often considered a poor choice in terms of lasting aesthetics.
Benefits of skylights, rooflights and roof windows
Both skylights/rooflights and roof windows offer a range of benefits making them worth serious consideration by property owners. Their continued growth in popularity is attributable not just to the great design impact they can offer, but also to practical aspects including cost savings and eco-friendliness. Sunsquare’s range of high-quality, thermally-broken products – for instance – are manufactured according to the highest standards of the BSI in terms of efficiency, safety and security. And that’s without diving into the positive effects of maximal daylighting and additional ventilation in your environment.
Now you know all the crucial information about rooflights and skylights and any difference in-between, make sure to take a look at Sunsquare’s complete range of flat roof skylights and rooflights: the only BSI Kitemarked products in the UK offering sleek, contemporary style and unrivalled performance for homes and workplaces.