Differences Between a Roof Window, Rooflight, and a Skylight?

As we find new ways to manufacture inexpensive insulating windows, and as people start wanting more natural light in their houses, both due to their aesthetic appeal and health benefits, we’re starting to see a boom in the number of windows installed in houses. They are pretty much en vogue now, and it is a perfect time for homeowners to start renovating their homes by installing more windows. One of the best places to install windows is the roof – it brings in the most amount of natural light, it has a modern aesthetic appeal, and it is less common and more unique. The problem, however, is that most homeowners don’t know about the differences between the different types of windows you can install. This article hopes to amend that.

natural light from the roof windows

A Roof Window

A roof window, at least in the United Kingdoms, is the most precise term used, because it is defined through a British Standard European Norm (BS EN) document. Specifically, the BS EN 14351-1:2006 specifies some requirements for roof windows. Namely, Roof windows must be installed in the same orientation and ‘in-plane’ with the surrounding roof, typically at a minimum 15° pitch. They should also be waterproofed once installed. This is the most common type of roof you’ll see in modern homes, and if you’re looking for a window with those requirements, a roof window is your best bet.


Rooflights is perhaps the most general term used to describe any type of windows installed on the roof. It is also a term predominantly used in the UK. It is so rare in the US, that it doesn’t even have an entry in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. So, if you ever move to the US, remember to use skylights or roof windows instead.


Skylight is another generic term that has a certain feeling of quality to it. That’s why a lot of companies use the term skylight when naming their windows. Skylights, however, have some common characteristics. They’re usually medium to large in size, and they are almost always perfectly aligned with the roof with no angle.

Frequently Asked Question

Is a rooflight a window?

Yes, as we hope this article showed, rooflight is the predominantly British word for skylight. It is a window you install on your roof.

Are skylights a bad idea?

It depends on what’s your goal when installing a skylight. Skylights are an excellent source of natural light and heating in the summer, and they provide a nice view in the winter. If you’re a fan of those, you should think about installing one.

What is a window in a roof called?

This depends completely on the type of window, the manufacturer, and your location. Depending on those, it can be called a roof window, skylight, rooflight, OptiLight windows etc.