Rooflights vs. Skylights – What’s the Difference?

April 27, 2022

Roof lights and skylights are a fantastic way to let natural light into your home. Not only are they practical, but they look stunning and can serve as a centrepiece in your home. Now, you might be wondering – what is the difference between a rooflight and a skylight? Googling this can be very confusing, as they are often used interchangeably, as both of their aims are to let light into a room but there is a key difference. We have the answers for you in this post. Let’s delve into it…

History of Skylights

Historically, skylights have been a huge part of architecture history. Skylights have been traced back to Ancient Rome, where they used open skylights, and you can see one in the oculus of the Pantheon. Ancient Roman architects used open skylights as glass was not yet widely used!

Skylights advanced in 17th century France and Spain, due to the beginning of glass being more widely used. One of the first glass skylights is in the Burgos Cathedral, and more notably in the Palace of Versailles. 

The industrial revolution brought about huge changes in manufacturing, particularly in the glass industry as Britain began to produce more glass and use it on a wider scale. So, skylights started popping up in smaller, less notable buildings as well as in houses.

Today, skylights are a very popular design option in homes due to the mass benefits that they can bring into your home.  


Skylights are a way to bring natural light into your home. They can transform a living area into a lighter and more aesthetically pleasing room. In simple terms, a skylight is a glass window that is fitted in a roof. Skylights are not levelled with the tiling instead they noticeably stick out from the roof. 

Skylights are used in residential and commercial settings. Many homeowners like to use skylights in dimly lit spaces, such as in kitchens or small storage spaces. Also, skylights can add value to your home, as they are aesthetically pleasing and let in an abundance of natural light. Natural light can often create the illusion of more space, which will make your home seem more open and spacious. 

In commercial settings, skylights are much grander in scale than in residential settings. Skylights for large buildings can significantly reduce electricity and energy builds. It has been suggested that artificial lighting makes up 40% of the total energy used in a building, which can be very expensive. Therefore, skylights are often a cost-effective solution to this problem.  

Rooflights & Roof Windows

A roof light has the same function as a skylight. The difference between the two is with the fitting. A roof light can be fitted on a flat or pitched roof and fit level with the tiles. Whereas a skylight will stick out from the roof. 

Whilst roof lights and skylights are often used interchangeably, there is a key difference between the two and roof windows. The difference between roof lights and roof windows is that a roof window can open and close. This is otherwise known as an open skylight. It brings in natural light as well as fresh air. 

Roof windows are often standard, and it is rare to find bespoke designs. This is certainly the appeal for many people, as they are more affordable and straightforward to purchase and install than roof lights and skylights. 

Benefits of Natural Light

There are so many benefits of letting natural light into your home. Firstly, it can help you save money and energy, as you will not need to turn on as many lights as usual. Natural light, especially through roof lights or skylights, can heat your home. This means that you are reducing the amount of electricity and energy that you use. 

Additionally, natural light can improve the aesthetics of your home, by boosting the look and feel of each room. It can also increase the value of your home, as it creates the illusion of rooms being larger than they are. 

Moving away from benefits to your home, natural light also has wellbeing benefits. It can improve your concentration levels, which will help you feel more alert and productive throughout the day. This is essential if you are working from home. Also in terms of wellbeing, natural light has been suggested to help reduce anxiety and stress levels. Just 30 minutes of exposure to natural light help relieve anxiety levels. 

In terms of physical health, vitamin D is important for your bones, immune system, muscles and much more! Natural light is an organic way of intaking this vitamin, and letting natural light into your home – it is a completely effortless way of improving your physical health.