What is the difference between a Roof Lantern and Skylight?

When it comes to creating a bright and vibrant space, teaming in natural light, the addition of a roof lantern or flat roof skylight will make all the difference. Increasing the natural light able to enter the room from an otherwise lack-lustre flat ceiling.

Estimated to allow up to three times more natural light than conventional side hung windows, new roof lanterns or skylights have become a popular inclusion with home extensions. Often the new, larger space requires more glazing to illuminate the furthest corners of the room and really bring it to life. A Roof light provides a magnificent modern solution. Able to deliver that extra glow throughout the day.

What Is The Difference Between A Roof Lantern And A Skylight?

Both skylights and Roof lanterns can be referred to as Roof Lights, a common term given to any glazed structure in a pitched or flat roof. However, both styles of roof windows can several key differences.

What is a sky light?

A Skylight is a flat window that is set into the roof. If the roof is pitched the rooflight will sit at the angle of the roof, amongst the tiles or slates and can either be opened by a centre-pivot or be top-hung. Skylights for flat roof extensions, however, sit horizontally as a glazed pane in the ceiling. They are a great choice if you would like them to be less visible from the outside. 

What is a Roof Lantern?

Roof lanterns on the other hand provide a glazed pitch to flat roof extensions, usually forming a visually striking dimensional form that sits atop the roof. Inside the roof lanterns extend the ceiling height, opening the room into the sky and providing an elegant and luxurious, contemporary space. Benefitting from more natural light than their flat counterparts, by channelling the rays from each and every angle of the architectural pyramid. Roof lanterns have the option to be non-opening or may feature automatic thermostatic ventilation which allows heat to rise and escape from the lantern. Our roof lantern ventilation also feature rain sensors that react to the very first drops of rain, closing as the weather changes, so you don’t have to rush to shut them yourself.

Things To Consider When Buying A Roof Light

Which way is the room facing?

Regardless of the direction your room faces, a rooflight is sure to draw in floods of natural light. However, for South and South-West facing rooms, it is important to consider that the space will receive more sun rays than the opposing aspect. Therefore, the window should ideally provide adequate ventilation by opening to let out any warm air and prevent a build-up of summer heat. 

Alternatively, if you love the idea of creating that commanding pitched ceiling in a new flat roof extension, a boarded roof lantern can provide a cool and contemporary solution for sun-soaked rooms. Another important consideration for south-facing extensions is minimising damage to furniture from UV rays. At Westbury, we offer Westbury Sun Guard for our roof lanterns, a neutral glass that lets in ample natural light but reduces UV rays and glare from entering your room. Our solar glass also reduces heat build up, keeping the room at a more consistent temperature. 

We pair the roof lantern’s timber sections with high-spec double glazing and aluminium capping for a premium product that looks beautiful and is very low maintenance. We use 4-16-4 toughened panes filled with argon gas and sealed with a Low E coating as standard, ensuring exceptional performance all year round. In addition, we offer upgrades such as laminated, low-maintenance, or solar reflective glass if it suits your requirements.

Do I Need Planning Permission For A Skylight Or Roof Lantern?

One of the most common questions we’re asked ‘is planning permission required to add a roof lantern?’. As with any project, it’s always worth checking consents beforehand. Research whether your proposed plans require planning or building consent & contacting a professional for advice before starting your project.

The consents you may need are dependent on your location but generally, a roof lantern can be added to your flat roof extension without planning consent under permitted development rights. A skylight, on the other hand, does have some restrictions when fixed to a pitched roof, such as needing to remain under 150mm in height from the roof face.

Choose A Reputable Company

Perhaps the most important consideration is to choose a company that you know and trust. Often shopping around for the best price is part of the process and should certainly play a role in making a decision to buy a roof light. However, always be aware of exactly what it is you are paying for. Our homes are our sanctuaries, and nobody wants to wake up to a leaky roof or end up with a cold and unusable room because corners were cut.

Firstly, check to see if the company is FENSA registered, this will provide a good indication that the fitters are experienced and capable to install your new roof lantern or skylight. Next, ask questions and discover all your options. This is more than a one-time purchase, a roof light will be in constant use every day for the foreseeable future and will become an integral part of your home.

At Westbury, we welcome your questions about our Glazing techniques that exceed the GGF (Glass & Glazing Federation) guidelines. We invite you to arrange a visit to our workshop to learn more about our process and product so that you’re not only able to fully understand the options available, but also able to confidently make a decision for the best possible solution for you.

What kind of rooflight is better for adding natural light?

When it comes to choosing between a skylight and a roof lantern, it all comes down to personal preference. Roof Lanterns allow a greater amount of natural light to fill the space than Skylights but when it comes to brightening your home both are up to the task.

The greatest difference between the two is aesthetics. Flat roof lights are barely visible from the outside at ground level, providing a more minimal and discreet solution. Roof lanterns are more theatrical and extravagant, both internally and externally. If you are seeking opulence and creating a more spacious environment with a big ‘wow factor’, then a roof lantern will deliver.