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The Different Types of Skylights

Last modified: 2019-05-30 | Approximate reading time 4 mins

Skylights bring natural light and beautiful views into the home, sitting high up on your ceilings and helping to brighten darker sections of rooms, or adding ventilation in smaller spaces. A skylight is simply a glazed window that is generally installed in the roof, and they can be domed, flat as well as fixed or vented.

For houses or apartments without direct roof access, there are still many ways that a skylight can be installed, as there are various models created for different home layouts. If you’ve been considering installing a skylight, your choices break down into three categories and each type has both benefits and challenges. 

Here are the different types of skylights!

Advice Before Moving Forward with a Skylight

It is important to seek professional advice and check for permits before installing your skylight, as there are rules and regulations that apply to certain municipalities. Planning permission is often required for this type of "window," and there may be regulations governing a skylight's size, position on the roof as well as its design. Once you have determined whether you can move forward with this project, plan size and shape accordingly!

The installation process for your skylight will depend on the model that you choose. Unless you are adding a small window that can sit between rafters, at least one rafter will need to be cut to make room. Bear in mind that cutting out a large part of the rafters could potentially weaken the roof of your home. Make sure to include support members called false rafters and trimmers, which will be inserted around the opening to strengthen it. The way that these are cut will directly depend on the skylight size as well as its positioning.

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Three Main Types of Skylights

Fixed Skylights

The fixed skylight would be considered the most standard and basic style of skylight. These do not open or provide access to the exterior world, and are locked in place on your ceiling. This type of skylight is installed to bring additional light into a space as well as for allowing family and friends to enjoy views of outside. However, do not install this type of skylight in a room that requires ventilation, as it cannot provide any. Fixed skylights are found in places like attics and stairwells, and are the most common type of skylight found in the home.

Ventilating Skylights


source: Google, crystaliteince

A ventilating skylight is a skylight that can be opened, and this is what differentiates it from the two other models listed. This type of skylight is sometimes referred to as a roof window. There are various styles of ventilating skylights, and depending on the manufacturer, this model can open either electronically or manually. These sophisticated skylights can be operated by remote controls, a manual or motorized hand-crank or by a sensor that is controlled by temperature. There are even some models that shut at the first touch of a raindrop; talk about high tech!

If you are considering installing a skylight in your kitchen or bathroom, this would be the recommended model. This is because they work just like a regular window, though a bit out of reach, but still with the ability to remove excess moisture and heat from a space by keeping a steady flow of air moving. This is also the easiest type of skylight to clean. Further, depending on make and model, this style skylight can provide escape and rescue capabilities, which may be necessary for certain home models or for the comfort of the homeowner.

Tubular Skylights

Skylights can be installed in places aside from your attic. When you are looking to brighten a room that doesn’t have the space for a wall window, or is lacking access to the roof for the installation of a traditional skylight then a tubular skylight would be your best bet. This is a way to bring natural light into a space when all other options are unavailable. A tubular skylight is installed using a shaft that starts at the roof and extends down through your home.

This is the newest model of skylight on the market and works by capturing sunlight on the rooftop and using a tube to redirect this light down a highly reflective shaft, which is then diffused throughout the interior space. A tubular skylight uses optics that spread the light over a large surface area.

This is beneficial, as the tube can be angled to point in the desired direction. The tubes are available in a range of sizes, and can easily fit between rafters and ceiling joists, so your home will not require any huge structural modifications. When installed, the unit is sealed to lock out dust, bugs and moisture, so no worries on these fronts!

Due to their size, this style of skylight is ideal in smaller areas where traditional skylights cannot be accommodated. There are many models of tubular skylights on the market, and some have optional features that can further optimize the use of this skylight. One potential feature is a light dimmer that allows the homeowner to adjust the level of light that pours in through the tube. An added bonus of this type of skylight is that it can decrease your energy costs by eliminating the need for electrical lights throughout the daytime.

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