What Types of Skylights Should You Choose?

If you haven’t already decided where you want to put a skylight in your home, check out our article 5 Places to Add a Skylight In Your Home.

In this article, we’ll talk about the types of skylights you should use  – and when to use them.

First, let’s define a skylight.  A skylight is a glazed “window” installed on your roof. They can be either domed or flat, and fixed or vented.  Some vented skylights operated by an electric motor, while others open and close manually.  Essentially, the choices break down into four categories, and each type of skylight has its benefits and challenges.

  1. Fixed Skylights
  2. Roof Windows
  3. Manual venting skylights
  4. Electric venting skylights

Fixed skylights

Velux Fixed Skylight

Velux Fixed Skylight

The most basic type of skylight is called a fixed skylight. “Fixed,” in window terminology, means that it cannot be opened, just like typical office building windows.  With Fixed skylights, you get the benefit of natural light.  Additionally, because it is sealed in the factory, a fixed skylight is theoretically considered leak-proof (unless you have used a poor skylight installer).    Therefore, the best place for a fixed skylight is where you want natural light but don’t need venting, such as a great room cathedral ceiling.

Roof windows

Roof Window example

Velux Cabrio Balcony Roof Window

Roof windows are designed for  “in-reach” installations that require emergency escape and rescue capabilities, such as with a finished attic, a loft, or an above-garage bonus room – any room with the wall of the room as part of the roof.  They work just like a regular window in that you can open them (thus the emergency exiting capability for larger roof window models), and their sashes can be pivoted so you can clean the exterior pane of glass from inside the home.

Manual venting skylights

Velux Manual Venting Skylight

Velux Manual Venting Skylight

A venting skylight (sometimes called just “vented”), offers fresh air on-demand. During warmer  months, when skylights bring in too much sun, venting skylights can be opened electrically or manually to release that heat or moisture.  Those that are installed “in reach” are typically the best places for a manually vented skylight.
The negative to manually vented skylights?  Vented skylights can accidentally be left open, allowing rain to enter the house.

Electric venting skylights

Electric Venting Skylight

Velux Solar Powered Skylight – No Wires!

Like manually operated venting skylights, electric venting skylights offer natural ventilations. One distinct advantage of the electric skylights is that some of them can automatically close at the first drop of rain.  So, go ahead and forget to close them!  Consider electrically vented skylights like a “passive air conditioner”:  through the chimney or exhaust effect they create, the warm air is drawn up through the venting skylight, providing a cooling effect and fresh air throughout the house.

Some, like Velux’s “Fresh Air” solar powered skylight offer require no hardwiring.

What’s Next?

Bennett Contracting has been installing skylights since there was sky.  OK, not really – but we’ve been installing windows for 100 years. We like to think we’re pretty good at it, and our 99% satisfaction rating on Angie’s List tells us that our customers think so, too. For more information on adding a skylight to a room in your home, contact us!