Skylights 101: What’s the Difference Between Skylights & Roof Windows?

Many people use the terms “skylight” and “roof window” interchangeably, but they aren’t necessarily the same. This can lead to confusion and may result in you not getting the product you wanted or expected. Both skylights and roof windows have their own benefits and drawbacks. Reviewing the differences between these two types of windows can help you determine which is right for your home.

At Lyons Roofing, we are well-versed in all types of skylights, roof windows, and solar tubular lights. Below we review the difference between skylights and roof windows and go over the pros and cons of each. Keep reading to learn more.

Skylights vs. Roof Windows

Though they can look very similar, skylights and roof windows have one fundamental difference. Typically, skylights are set into the roofline and do not open. Roof windows are also placed into the roof structure but have the added benefit of opening and closing, allowing for more ventilation into your home. Some skylights do allow for venting, but roof windows (also referred to as venting skylights) will open much like a traditional window set into a side wall and may even incorporate screens.

Solar Tubular Lights

Much different than skylights and roof windows, solar tubular lights (sometimes called light shafts) are typically very small and are used to provide more natural light in small, enclosed spaces where a traditional window or skylight will not fit. A small light is installed in the roof, and light is directed down through a reflective tube inside your home.

The Benefits of Skylights & Roof Windows

The two primary benefits of skylights and roof windows are added light and improved ventilation in your home. They also add architectural interest and give you a unique view of the sky. In places like Arizona, where we see more sunny days than cloudy, the view from a skylight or roof window is especially nice and can even give you a look at the night sky.

Reasons to choose a roof window over a skylight:

  • You need more airflow and ventilation than a traditional skylight offers
  • You want to have a skylight that also serves as an egress window
  • You want a more versatile option when it comes to window functionality
  • You previously had a skylight and wish to upgrade

Generally, roof windows are a bit more expensive than a fixed skylight that doesn’t open or offer venting. However, with the added functionality, many people prefer roof windows to skylights.

Things to Consider When Installing Skylights & Roof Windows

If you choose to install a skylight or roof window, it is important that you consider both the placement of the window itself and how the sun hits your home. Because Arizona is so warm, if the skylight or roof window will see a lot of direct sun, you may experience sun bleaching on your floors, furniture, and other surfaces. You may also notice that the temperature increases in the room/area where the skylight or roof window is installed.

To combat these problems, you should consider selecting a window that is tinted and/or which has UV protection. Similarly, you may also wish to install a retracting shade or blind over the skylight or roof window so that you can control the amount of direct sunlight coming into your home. This is particularly important during the summer months.

Additionally, if you are installing a roof window, consider where it is placed and how easy it is to access the window for opening and closing. If the window is being installed in a lofted ceiling or somewhere not easily reached, you should consider selecting a model that offers remote, motorized operation. Relatedly, if you are also installing blinds or a shade over the window, you will likely want a motorized version as well.

Who Should You Call to Install a Roof Window or Skylight?

While many homeowners are adept at DIY home renovation projects, it is recommended that you work with a professional roofing contractor, like Lyons Roofing, when installing skylights, roof windows, and even solar tubular lights. Because these all must be incorporated directly into the roof deck, they must be installed correctly. Otherwise, you may experience leaks and other problems with both the window and your roof.

Lyons Roofing is proud to offer residents in the Phoenix and Tucson areas professional skylight and roof window installation services. As a locally owned and operated business, we are always here for you should you have a question after installation. We are your go-to skylight and roof window experts, from helping you select the right product for your needs to top-quality installation.

Send us a message online to discuss your options today.