Have you ever imagined having an outdoor space in your home or building that can be converted to a sky lit space in inclement weather? Installing a retractable roof makes it possible. Retractable roofs and retracting skylight are both used to allow natural light into a space. However, there is a difference between a retractable roof and a skylight. For example, retractable roofs are typically more structurally substantial and are operated by an electric motor. A skylight that is capable of opening is usually configured as a simple fixed glazed material. There are other differences as well – read on for more!

What is a Retractable Roof?

Some modern sports stadiums offer good examples of retractable roofs. A portion of the roof is designed to open and move out of the way entirely in order to allow natural light and fresh air into the building. In homes, many owners choose to install a retractable roof over their enclosed pool or indoor garden/atrium to enjoy the benefits of natural, unobstructed sunlight and fresh air. The idea is to have the freedom to open your space to sunlight and fresh air at times while providing the option to fully enclose the space to protect it from wind, rain, or snow.

What is a Retracting Skylight?

A retracting skylight is more like a simple “window” in the roof, vs. a distinct portion of the roof that is capable of moving out of sight. A skylight lets in natural light and helps reduce dependence on electric lighting. The natural light brightens the space and allows you to feel outdoors without the weather.

The Difference Between a Retractable Roof and a Retracting Skylight

When deciding which type of roof opening to use in your space, it’s essential to understand the difference between a retractable roof and a retracting skylight.

Retractable roofs are best suited to spaces where you wish to alternate between enclosing the space for climate control and opening it up to fresh air. Retractable roofs are more robust than skylights. They are engineered to be as strong as the rest of the roof, and they are tailored to the particular building and roof design.

A retracting skylight is often smaller, may be made of high-strength glass or domed plastic and they often do not open at all. Skylights that are operable may be either manual or motorized, typically hinged to tilt.

Skylights are less expensive than retractable roofs because they do not need an internal support structure, roof structure engineered to take a kinetic load or electric motor to operate. Fixed skylights may be the more common solution for people who live in areas with primarily inclement weather.

Building code regulators view “skylights” as manufactured products that should adhere to a list of requirements and certifications consistent with other off-the-shelf items. A retractable roof, on the other hand, is designed and constructed in a customized way for a specific home by the manufacturer. It is not a pre-made, off-the-shelf product.

Rollamatic’s Retractable Roofs

Characteristics of our retractable roof designs:
  • While almost all of Rollamatic’s projects include glass (glazing) to allow light into the space when the roof system is closed, we do create some covered with conventional roofing materials;
  • Each of our units is designed, fabricated, and installed specifically for a given opening configuration and to handle vertical off-sets;
  • Each retractable roof system is designed and engineered as a roof, using standard, commonly used, and accepted building materials. Most are “sheathed” with a glazing product in order to allow light to pass through;
  • All electrical components are UL labeled, as required by code;

We Have You Covered

We hope this blog helped clarify the difference between a retractable roof and a skylight. If you’d like more information about the types of retractable roofs available to you, contact us by phone or online. We have the expertise required to design, engineer, build, install and maintain that special outdoor/indoor space that you imagine! This is precisely what Rollamatic Roof offers. We look forward to working with you to make your imagination a reality.