Break Through the Ceiling Your Complete Guide to Opening Rooflights

Break Through the Ceiling Your Complete Guide to Opening Rooflights

Rooflights are the staple of many action movies and video games. We’ve all seen or played that one scene where the protagonist comes crashing through the rooflight to save the day, defeat the villain or spring a surprise ambush. But for those of us who don’t find ourselves in action movie plotlines or re-enacting Call Of Duty on a regular basis, we may be left wondering if rooflights are worth having or what the different types of rooflights are. In this article, I’ll be covering one particular kind of rooflight, the opening rooflight, and trying to answer some questions about them.

What Is an Opening Rooflight?

Opening rooflights are a precision engineered window, which is meant for installation on a roof as they have been designed for ventilation only, unlike an access rooflight, which has been designed to allow for people and objects to go through them. An example of an opening rooflight can be found here

The Benefits of Having an Opening Rooflight as Ventilation

Opening rooflights have several major benefits as a ventilation option over traditional windows. Firstly, opening rooflights are controlled remotely from a box, so that they can be opened without physically having to touch the window. This widens the places where you can put an opening rooflight, as you don’t have to be able to reach it, you only have to be able to get to the control box, which can be placed more freely. Opening windows are also connectable to both temperature and rain sensors. Temperature sensors will automatically open the windows when the temperature in the area where the sensor goes above a predetermined amount, for example, should the temperature in a conservatory go above 25°c, and then the sensor will automatically close the window once the temperature drops below that predetermined amount again. A rain sensor, on the other hand, doesn’t have any ability to open the windows, but instead, its sole purpose is to close the windows should the sensor detect falling water, in order to stop any rain from getting in.

How Do Opening Rooflights Work?

Contrary to what pre-teenage me thought when we first got our conservatory with opening rooflights, they aren’t operated by black magic or an act of God. The windowpane which opens is connected to the window by a silent heavy-duty actuator, which is a part of a chain drive unit housed within the frame. The drive unit itself is made up of primarily of 2 motors which work in tandem to move the actuator either up or down, depending on if the window is opening or closing when either the control button is pressed or one of the aforementioned sensors are tripped. The video here demonstrates this process very well. There may be some concerns around the safety of these windows, especially if you can’t close and lock them yourself. Firstly, the sensors do have a feature where you can disable the automatic opening and closing triggered by the sensors so that they don’t open unless you make them. The vast majority of opening windows are also protected against forced entry.

Where Are Good Places To Have An Opening Rooflight?

Opening windows are ideally designed for use in a roof in such an area as a conservatory or hallway, where ventilation may be wanted, either in addition to windows or where windows are otherwise unviable, for example, a changing room. They can be fitted to both sloping and flat roofs, meaning that the possibilities are incredibly flexible. They also come in various glass types, including a non-fragile, man safe type for when durability is wanted, and privacy glass for when the rooflight is overlooked or where privacy is wanted as well as ventilation, for example, the changing room example mentioned above. It is also worth considering that should your desired area for having the opening rooflight be over 5 meters above the ground, you should contact your supplier and discuss it with them, in order to comply with the UK building regulations. More details about this can be found on the website here.

Are There Some Downsides To Opening Rooflights?

Of course there are! Opening rooflights aren’t right for everyone or every project. Depending on personal preference and/or the project that the rooflights are intended for, opening rooflights may not be the right sort of rooflight for you! But don’t worry, there is a wide selection of rooflights available, of different shapes, sizes and ways of opening. For example, if you’re planning to have an eco-friendly roof with a large amount of green space on top, you may find that a pyramid rooflight is better suited to your project. On the other hand, if you’re planning on installing rooflights on commercial premises or even if you just want additional peace of mind in your residential property, you can get both a fixed fire rated rooflight, which is designed to provide 30 minutes of insulation and 30 minutes integrity should a fire break out, or you could get an Automatic Opening Vent (AOV), which is designed to be triggered should a fire be detected to allow smoke to vent out of the building, reducing the risk of smoke inhalation, which is a common reason why occupants struggle to leave a building on fire safely. Check out the link here if you want to learn more about AOV windows and their regulations. You should buy the rooflight to fit your project, safety requirements and preference, however, for an all-round, very safe ventilation window, the opening rooflights are perfect.


If you’re looking for a rooflight which is perfect for allowing airflow and ventilation into a space to regulate temperature and airflow, then opening rooflights are ideal. You do need to remember that they don’t open fully, so they aren’t good for a window that you intend for people and/or object to pass through, however for ventilation in conservatories, hallways, changing rooms and other enclosed spaces, you would be hard pressed to find a better suited window.