Skylights vs Lantern Roofs: Find Out the Key Differences
Date: 03.02.2021
Author: James Smith

What is the Difference Between Skylights, Flat Roof Windows and Lantern Roofs?

Skylights, flat roof windows and lantern roofs – what’s the difference? And which is right for your home? If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably been searching online for either a skylight, a flat roof window or a lantern roof for your home. By now you’ll know that there are a huge range of options on the market, and bafflingly, sometimes they’re called different things by different people. Some flat roof windows might be called ‘skylights’ by one supplier, and vice-versa by the next! And what is a lantern roof? Never fret, FAKRO are here to help untangle the jargon and industry speak, and guide you towards a beautiful addition to your flat roofed room. So, let’s cut through the confusion:

What is a skylight?

A skylight is often a generic term applied to any window installed in a pitched or flat roof, which is unhelpful! What you might consider a ‘skylight’ could be called a pitched roof window by some manufacturers. But, when most manufacturers refer to skylights, or rooflights – they mean a ‘glazing unit that’s installed on a flat roof’, which is obviously a bit of a mouthful!

‘Skylights’ therefore, can be in a variety of styles including flat or domed. They are a brilliant way to bring in more light to a flat roofed room as they capture sunlight all day long, being less reliant on the position of the sun, and can give beautiful views of the sky, day or night.

What is a lantern roof?

A lantern roof differs from a skylight by being raised slightly all the way round, allowing hip rafters to support a central ridge. Glazing units then sit at angles allowing more daylight to enter the room. Lantern roofs are also often referred to as ‘roof lanterns’, but there is no difference.

Lantern Roofs are considered a more traditional choice as their history can be seen in Georgian orangeries and can be seen on conservatories as well as flat roof extensions. However, many modern styles have entered the UK market in recent years as home owners have realised the aesthetic potential in installing something less ordinary than a standard flat roof skylight.

What is a flat roof window?

In simple terms, a flat roof window is a term that is often applied to any window installed on a flat roof. This includes skylights, rooflights, roof windows and lantern roofs, which can cause confusion when discussing options with designers, architects or suppliers. For a breakdown of options have a look at our flat roof windows guide.

Should I choose a skylight, a rooflight or a lantern roof?

If you’re choosing based only on aesthetic appearance the choice between the options above is entirely yours. However, in some situations you may be guided by lease or planning restrictions, in which case you should always refer to your local planning department for help.

Lantern roofs are often a smart choice if you’re hoping to achieve a large amount of glazing. Specifying single large glazing units can become expensive, so most skylights or flat roof windows have a limitation on their possible area – lantern roofs however can easily be specified easily up to 6m in length, due to their multiple glazing pane design.

Skylights and lantern roofs both offer excellent light ingress, but some studies have shown that lantern roofs can deliver more light due to their glazing angle, however the effects are marginal. Where lantern roofs do out-perform their rivals though is in head height – as due to their central rafter designs they’re able to beat flat roof skylights and most domed skylights for added height and drama.

The answer to which you should choose, as always, comes down to which you prefer for your home. But also consider the supplier or manufacturer, whichever you finally decide upon.

Ask yourself:

  1. Is this skylight or lantern roof familiar and easy to install?
  2. Does it come with a warranty, and what does the detail in any guarantee cover – and for how long?
  3. And never forget good old customer service – are you getting helpful advice and information from wherever you choose to purchase, and will they be around to help should the unexpected happen?

Choosing an important addition to your development or renovation project, such as a skylight or lantern roof, should be an exciting one, and can bring so much to your home. If you would like to speak to one of our helpful team about the beautiful CIRRUS lantern roof system we’d love to chat. We’re available nationwide, so start your skylight conversation with FAKRO today!

Hop on live chat, or give the team a call on 01283 554755.

For more helpful guides and loft conversion advice check out our knowledge hub

Related case studies


What is a dormer window? Planning permission, cost, and more

When you’re ready to convert your loft into a functional living space, you need to consider which light and ventilation...

Insulated Thermo Roof Windows – FTT With U8 Glazing

The FTT roof window features an innovative structure which offers excellent thermal insulation parameters with an impressive U-Value of 0.58W/m²K...

Larger Roof Windows – More Opportunities

Studies have shown that the average person in Britain spends a minimal eight per cent of their time outside on...