Both roof lights and roof lanterns have their advantages and disadvantages. Each has a place, depending on what you are looking for.

If you are wondering which is right for your home, here is a quick guide regarding differences, and which you should go for.

The Differences Between Roof Lights and Roof Lanterns

In general, roof light is a term that is used to describe a whole range of roof-based windows. This could be a bespoke skylight or a standard stock one. Roof lights can be used on flat or pitched roofs, coming in so many styles and types.

So, roof light is the general term for any roof-fitted window that lets light in. But here are the differences between a roof light and a roof lantern.



Roof light

Roof lantern


It lies almost flush with the roof making it not visible and almost unobtrusive.

Protrudes from the roof. Might be more suited to period properties.


Usually rectangular.

Mostly rectangular but can also be octagon or pyramid shape.


Light enters directly through a flat panel on the roof. Doesn’t allow so much morning/evening light in.

Allows a lot of light and creates a visual effect due to the protruding shape and light reflection. Good for low-level light in the morning and evening too.


It is generally cheaper than a roof lantern so long as the roof light is not bespoke/custom-made.

Tend to be more expensive than roof lights per square metre.


Lots of choices and flexibility when it comes to opening. Manual and electric opening options are available.

Some roof lanterns do have openings to help with ventilation, though many do not open at all.


Roof lights tend to need cleaning more often as water sitting on top can leave a residue.

Due to the pitched shape of a roof lantern, the water will naturally run off.


As a general rule, you don’t need planning for roof lanterns or roof lights, as long as they adhere to some simple criteria. If in doubt it is always worth checking with your local council/the contractors who are installing your roof light or roof lantern.


Looking for a roof light?

We are a leading supplier of custom roof lights and sky light roof systems. We can offer you high-quality, triple-glazed skylights that will improve your home with more natural light.

If you have any questions about our products, don’t hesitate to get in touch.