Roof lanterns or roof skylights were first used in this country by the Victorians who were copying architects from Renaissance Europe. The Dulwich Picture Gallery, opened in 1817, designed by Sir John Soane, was the first public art gallery in the United Kingdom. Soane used roof lanterns to project natural light onto the paintings.
Roof lanterns for extensions
Of course, you are unlikely to have an art gallery in your home, but natural light, often missing from modern, typically long and narrow extensions, is brilliantly brought back by installing lanterns in the roof. They are aesthetically appealing and help to add to the character of the room, apart from bathing it in more light.
The pyramid shape is popular (like the Louvre extension), but really you can have whatever shape you like as they are made especially for you.
Modern roof lanterns
Using the latest materials, today’s roof lanterns are sturdy and weatherproof and offer narrow sightlines, meaning you get more light and less frame, without the frame being less study.
Common concerns around roof lights
Too hot or too cold
Some people worry that roof lanterns will make the room too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. This used to be an issue with conservatories years ago, but modern glass materials mean the light can be reflected off and double glazing keeps in the warmth in winter, much like your windows do. One way round any issues is to make sure the room has some ventilation for the summer months. Do this at the design stage. A fanlight or similar that can be left open should keep the room from overheating and keep condensation down too. If you do feel the sun is a problem in summer, blinds can be fitted, operating remotely. Your builder or window salesperson should discuss this with you.
Heavy rainfall can be noisy, but since the windows are not usually installed in a bedroom and we don’t have flash floods very often, it is just a mild inconvenience. The advantage of all that light is outweighed by occasional noise. In any case, improvements in glazing are ongoing and noise reduction is noticeable in the most up to date glazing.
If the roof lanterns are inaccessible, some customers worry about cleaning them. Glass is now available with a coating that self-cleans. It works by breaking down the dirt that is then washed off by rain.
Big benefits of roof lanterns
Good for your wellbeing
As well as looking pleasing and breaking up a room, offering more height and the illusion of more space, natural daylight has been proven to be good for our wellbeing. If you plan on spending a lot of time in your new extension, you may as well benefit from some extra natural light. The roof lanterns can be placed so they throw light on your cooker, dining area, work area or anywhere you would normally prefer to have natural light.