What is the difference between a rooflight, skylight and a roof window?

When searching for glazing products online, Google will often return a variety of search results that include the terms ‘rooflight’, ‘skylight’ and ‘roof window’ in both page titles and meta-descriptions.

No wonder then that people are getting confused and are starting to question the difference. Which website links should you be browsing? What term delivers the best results?

To begin with, there is no real difference between the terms ‘rooflight’ and ‘skylight’.

For example, Google defines the term ‘Skylight’ as a ‘window set in a roof or ceiling at the same angle’. It similarly describes the term ‘Rooflight’ as ‘an opening in a house roof that is covered with translucent or transparent material designed to admit light’.

There is no technical difference other than that the Americans prefer the term ‘skylight’ over ‘rooflight’, a bit like ‘chips’ over ‘crisps’! Both terms are different alternatives to what is essentially the same thing.

The main reason that you’ll be finding a mix of the two across many glazing websites is due to search purposes; companies often use the terms ‘skylight’ and ‘rooflight’ within their content to make sure that regardless of the terminology a potential customer is using, they will be guided to the correct page.

However, Rooflights and Skylights should not be confused with the term ‘Roof Window’.

Roof windows are slightly different in terms of form and function as defined under EN 14351-1:2006; they are designed to be installed in the same orientation and plane as the surrounding roof at a minimum 15 degree pitch. [Velux products are a good example of this]. Roof Windows can be CE marked against this standard, whereas Rooflights or Skylights generally cannot, as they are usually installed ‘out of plane’ on a builders upstand or kerb.

Whatever term you prefer using, remember that ‘rooflight’ and ‘skylight’ mean the same thing whereas ‘roof window’ should be treated as a slightly different product. Despite these differences, all three share the ability to drastically improve the quality of lighting within any given room or living space.

Browse the Rooflights.com product range at the online rooflight shop.