Roof Skylight to Brighten Low-light Areas and Reduce Energy Bills

Skylight makes small living spaces appear much bigger, and gives the house a personality that it otherwise wouldn't have, as well as a sense of responding to the light outside.

Roof window skylights over a dining room

There are different types of skylights:
  • Fixed (similar to windows that do not open. they are not meant to provide ventilation)
  • Ventilating (or roof windows)
  • Tubular (or Solar Tube. Easiest to install. Love them. They glow purple in the moonlight.)
Go for fixed/ventilating skylight in the living area, and tube skylights in the bathrooms and hallways. On the skylights be sure to get the solar powered shades. You'll want it dark in the room sometimes.

Fixed type skylight do not open, they are for lighting only, no ventillation

They are available in acrylic, glass and solar-heat control glazing. Acrylic or poly-carbonates are least expensive and less liable to break, but discolour and does not block UV rays. Glass is expensive, but long lasting. Solar-heat control glazing will help you improve energy efficiency.

Attic tuned in to bedroom with ventilating skylight

Skylights are best suited on the north facing rooms. They do not absorb or retain too much heat. South-side installed skylights will retain more heat, which is desirable in Winters, but not in Summers. You can place an exterior window cover to control heat loss/gain or install the skylight under deciduous trees.

East-facing skylights provide the most light and heat in the mornings while west-facing installations do the same in the afternoon.

A thumb-rule on the size of skylight
  • If you have many windows, skylight size should be < 5% of floor area
  • If you have fewer windows, skylight size should be < 15% of floor area

Bright, open kitchen features dark grey cabinetry, skylights and a rustic wooden table serving as a workspace in this 1927 craftsman heritage home in West Vancouver.

Skylights make small spaces look large

As Ventilating Skylight or Roof Window Skylights need to be opened or closed, they must be reachable to the individuals (and out of reach to kids). Alternatively you may go for one that operates through a remote, and install the roof window where it gives you the best lighting or view.

Skylight over a workspace

A properly installed skylight of a decent quality installed by a professional will not leak. Buy the cheapest one you can find, and get your neighbour's friend's cousin to install it because he'll do it cheap and did a roof once, and you'll be in for a world of grief.

The people that say they always leak are the hacks that don't have a clue how to install them or think they can do it their own way instead of following a manufacturers recommendations.

For most skylights these days, you build a curb around the hole in the roof and the skylight is s one-piece sealed cap that goes over the curb, overlapping the sides of the curb by quite a bit. So the skylight itself is unlikely to leak. And the rest is subject to the same possible problems as the other things that extend through your roof (chimneys, vents, etc.) Adding a skylight increases the number of places where things can go wrong but there's no reason it can't be done right.

A roof is a system for shedding water, and the issues are more complex than people realise. Someone who thinks installing a skylight is like installing a window is probably going to cause problems. But someone who knows how to properly put a chimney or a vent through a roof shouldn't find a skylight to be any more challenging.

That being said, the ideal time to install skylights is when replacing your shingles.