What is the Difference Between a Roof light and a Skylight?

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In the realm of architectural design, the importance of natural light cannot be overstated. It has the power to transform the feel and functionality of interior spaces, enhancing our daily experiences and overall well-being.

One architectural element that has gained immense popularity for its ability to harness and amplify natural light is the humble yet extraordinary roof light.

What is a roof light?

A roof light is a type of window or opening installed in the roof of a building, typically sloped or flat roofs, to allow natural light to enter the interior spaces. Roof lights are designed to provide illumination and may or may not be operable, allowing for ventilation.

Roof lights come in various sizes, styles and materials to suit different architectural and functional needs. 

If you’re looking for a roof light that is both easy to install and really cost-effective, we’d recommend taking a look at our impressive Atlas Roof Light in grey

Why are roof lights popular? 

Rooflights are popular for several reasons: 

  • They maximise the amount of natural light in a space, reducing the need for artificial lighting during the day, creating a brighter and more pleasant environment. 
  • Roof lights are commonly used in attic or loft conversions to transform these spaces into habitable rooms by providing light. 
  • They can enhance energy efficiency by reducing the need for electric lighting and improving natural ventilation, which can help regulate indoor temperatures. 
  • Roof lights can offer a view of the sky and the surrounding environment, contributing to the aesthetics of a building.

Roof lights are incredibly easy to install and will enhance the aesthetics of a room from the get-go! 

What is a skylight? 

A skylight is exactly the same as a roof light, however in some countries, they prefer to use the term ‘skylight’ instead. 

Here in the UK, you’ll notice that we use the term ‘roof light’. 

Why are skylights popular?

As skylights and rooflights are the same thing, they are popular for the same reasons (e.g. the addition of natural light, enhancing aesthetics of a space and energy efficiency). 

What is the difference between a roof light and a roof lantern? 

A roof lantern is another type of architectural addition to a building and can also be chosen by anyone who wants to enhance the aesthetics and lighting of their space. 

Roof lanterns are exceptional at channelling light from all angles, making them a preferred choice for those wanting to brighten up their interiors. Additionally, they have the remarkable ability to create a sense of spaciousness within a room. This effect is achieved by opening up the ceiling towards the sky, allowing light to flood in from above and altering the room’s ergonomics. 

When you examine roof lanterns closely, you’ll see that its structure is composed of glazed bars. Whilst these bars serve essential support mechanisms for the glass panels that make up the lantern, one potential drawback is that when you stand beneath them, you’ll always see these glazed bars (you can opt for lanterns with minimal glazing bar connectors to mitigate this issue). 

In contrast, roof lights do not have these visible supports and due to their structure being similar to that of a window, they look similar to windows too. Roof lights can allow up to 25% more light to enter the room if you get one made to internal dimensions. 

With a roof lantern, you have the option to add openers, allowing airflow into the space. 

Which is better: a roof light or a roof lantern? 

When it comes to choosing between roof lights and roof lanterns, the better option depends on your specific needs and preferences, including the characteristics of your space. Neither is inherently better than the other; rather, they have different advantages and considerations. 

If you prioritise unobstructed views and a clean, minimalistic look, roof lights may be the better option for you. On the other hand, if you want to make a bold architectural statement, flood your room with light and create a more open and spacious feel, roof lanterns might be the preferable choice. 

It’s also extremely important to consider your budget and the specific requirements of your project when making your decision. 

To help you choose the right option for you, check out our  ‘Roof Lanterns Vs Roof Lights: Which is best?’ article for more information or call our friendly team on 01642 309576.

Alternatively, head over to our website to start browsing our impressive selection of roof lights and roof lanterns. 

FAQs about skylights and rooflights 

Is a roof window the same as a skylight? 

A roof window and a skylight are not the same, although they serve similar purposes. 

A skylight is a type of window installed in the roof of a building, designed to admit natural light into a space. Skylights are typically fixed, meaning they cannot be opened and their primary function is to provide illumination, they also come in various shapes and sizes. 

A roof window, on the other hand, is a type of window specifically designed for use in the roof of a building, typically sloped roofs. Roof windows are usually larger than skylights and are designed to be opened and closed, allowing for ventilation as well as natural light. They are often used in attic or loft spaces to convert them into habitable rooms and are also known for their ability to provide a view of the surrounding environment. 

What are skylights called in the UK?

Here in the UK, skylights are often referred to as ‘roof lights’ and the term ‘roof light’ is commonly used to describe a window installed in the roof of a building to let in natural light. 

Roof lights can come in various styles and designs, including fixed and operable options and are commonly used in both residential and commercial buildings to help enhance natural lighting in interior spaces. 

What are roof lights for loft conversion? 

Roof lights for loft conversions are specially designed windows or roof openings that are installed in the roof of a building, typically in an attic or loft space, with the purpose of converting the area into a usable living space, such as a bedroom, offices or other functional areas. 

These roof lights are strategically positioned to maximise natural light and provide ventilation in the newly created living space. They are often larger than traditional skylights and may be designed to be opened to allow fresh air to flow into the converted loft area. 

Can I customise a roof light to suit my preferences? 

Yes, you can customise roof lights to suit your preferences. 

Here at GFD Homes, although we have a range of stock sizes and standard colours to choose from, you can also request a bespoke size and bespoke colour for your roof light (for a bespoke colour, we just need the RAL code of the colour you want). 

You can also choose to have a different type of glass, as well as any of the following finishes for your roof light; matt, gloss and smooth. 


If you have a few more questions or need some help, please contact our team

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