Skylights transform a room, bringing in the outdoors from above, like a window on the sky. Benefits include natural light that reduces the need for artificial lighting and room ventilation with skylights that open.
This skylight buying guide covers top brands, their products and prices, installation costs and skylight options.
On average, you can expect to pay between $1,750 and $3,250 to install a new fixed or vented skylight measuring up to 30 by 48 inches in size/window dimensions.
All else being equal, it will cost a lot less to install a new skylight during the construction of a new home.
Re-roofing is the next best time to install a new skylight on your property, while cutting-in a hole to install a skylight in the existing roof will be significantly more expensive.
Your home’s location and local real estate market, and a local cost of living will have a material impact on the total cost installed. The relative ease of roof access will also impact costs.
The table below provides a further breakdown of costs for materials and installation:
|Total installed cost:
Skylight or tube
Up to 22″
|Plastic or glass
Fixed or vented
Skylight or tube
Up to 30×48
Manual or remote open
Electric or solar
Up to 34×70
Electric or solar
Most skylight companies sell packages that include the window and installation. Below, we further break down window costs and labor/professional installation costs, because you can buy windows at any home improvement store.
DIY installation is not recommended and will void the warranty of some skylights.
Skylight material cost ranges from less than $55 for a small fixed skylights to about $2,500 for large vented skylights that are remote-operable and have built-in blinds.
Skylight installation cost varies greatly based on factors detailed below. Expect estimates as low as $500 to more than $2,500 for complete installation.
Did you know? The best time to have a skylight installed is during construction of your home before roofing material is put on or the interior ceilings have been finished. It takes the least time, so labor cost is low. Roofers and drywallers can easily work around a skylight.
Few home builders may have that foresight, so the next-best option for cost is to install a skylight during the re-roofing of your home.
The skylight can be installed before the roofing material, which saves time and money.
The appearance will be better than if the skylight is installed into existing roofing and new shingles or shakes are installed around it that won’t perfectly match. Inside your home, the drywall work will be extensive too.
If your home isn’t ready for a new roof, then you’ll pay a higher cost going through existing roofing material. That’s still more cost-effective than tearing off an old roof that still has plenty of life in it.
Installation Only Costs by Project Type:
During new construction: $500-$1,200
During re-roofing: $500-$1,500
In existing roofing: $1,200-$3,500
Types of Skylights
There are four types of skylights.
Fixed (1) and vented (2) skylights are the most common.
Tubular skylights (3) carry natural light through scissor trusses and attics to brighten space below.
Small plastic skylights (4) are a cheap way to add light to upper rooms and attics.
Fixed skylights don’t open. They are picture windows in your roof. Sizes range from about 14”x30” to 50” square.
Fixed skylights remain the most popular type with homeowners wary of leaks due to failed seals or from leaving the window open prior to a rainfall.
Did you know? A new generation of windows with solar-powered mechanical blinds is growing in popularity. These units work well in large rooms anywhere in the house and can be outfitted with manual or remotely operated blinds.
Fixed skylight costs range from about $350 to $1,000, depending on the brand and model, plus installation costs of $800-$2,500. New and replacement models are available.
If you already have a skylight, it’s important to know that replacement units and installation cost less because the skylight frame is left in place. Less time and materials are involved in the project.
These skylights open, hence they’re vented. Manual, electric and solar-powered units give you cost and performance options.
Vented skylights are called roof windows too. Some brands differentiate between the two.
Roof windows and skylights come in new and replacement styles. Size options range from about 20”x30” to 30”x60” and 55” square. You have the option of a roof window that opens manually or by remote.
Most vented skylights open at a hinged top. Center-pivoting windows are a new option and suggested for rooms with high humidity. The pivot is on the side, so the top pivots inward, the bottom outward.
A third type of vented skylight opens at the side, like a casement window. There purpose is to allow roof access for egress and repairs.
As with fixed windows, vented skylights work well in large spaces in your home.
Vented skylight costs range from about $550 to $2,000 before installation, which adds $800-$2,400 to the total. New and replacement units are produced, and as with fixed skylights, replacements cost less.
These are small domed or flat skylights glazed with acrylic, glass or polycarbonate. A tube travels through attic space or scissor trusses like those used in vaulted ceilings to a lens installed flush with your ceiling.
Their purpose is to bring natural light into a dark area such as a bathroom, hallway, laundry room, walk-in closet or pantry.
Many tubular skylights have reflectors made from metal or glass for maximum light gathering. When the tube is short, a view of the sky above is possible.
Tubular skylights are small enough to install between roofing trusses. Common accessories for them include tough polycarbonate domes for high-velocity wind zones, tube extensions to carry light further and elbows to redirect the tube.
The cost of tubular skylights ranges from about $250 to $750, plus installation. Since installation can be quite easy, total cost for tubular skylight ranges from about $1,000 to $1,800 per installed unit.
Small Plastic Skylights:
These cheap skylights are square or round and small enough to fit between roof trusses. The glazing is plastic. The plastic might be translucent, allowing light through, or actually transparent.
While inexpensive, many plastic skylights yellow in just a few years. Polycarbonate skylights don’t fade as quickly as other plastics.
These units are ideal for small bathrooms, hallways, pantries, closets and finished attics, though they can be used anywhere additional natural light is desired.
Small plastic skylights cost $55 to about $150, but their professional installation can exceed $1,250.
Deck Mount vs. Curb Mount Skylights
Fixed and vented skylights from all top brands are manufactured in two styles: deck mounted and curb mounted. Each style has pros and cons.
Deck mounting: The flange of a deck mounted skylight is fastened directly to your roof deck. Tubular skylights are deck-mounted.
The advantages of mounting the window directly on the deck is a lower profile, which many think is a design with more curb appeal, and an unobstructed view from inside. Finally, they “hug” the roof, so are more energy efficient.
The disadvantage of a deck mounted skylight is that replacing it is more invasive. Roofing material and flashing are removed in the immediate area and replaced once the new window is installed. This drives up installation cost by 50% or more.
Curb mounting: These skylights install onto a box called a curb built and flashed onto the roof deck. The curb is typically 3-6 inches high, made of pressure treated wood and flashed to be weather proof.
Did you know? A big advantage for curb mounted skylights is that the skylight can be replaced without disturbing the roof structure. Installation cost of the replacement skylight is much lower than for deck mounted units.
There are three disadvantages. The curb gives the skylight a higher profile from the road. Secondly, it is visible from inside, so your view is slightly reduced. Finally, curb mounting is less energy efficient.
Top Skylight Brands:
Here’s a look at the top skylight manufacturers, their product lines and costs.
This Danish company dominates the industry. For example, a quick look at Home Depot’s main skylight page shows 1100+ results for Velux. Fakro is next with 90% less at 110 results. At Lowes, 5 times more Velux models than Fakro are available.
Velux makes three types:
Fixed skylights are deck or curb mounted.
Fresh Air lines are available in deck and curb-mounted options.
Velux Roof Windows are vented units. Four styles are top-hinged, center pivot, roof access and the high-end Cabrio series.
The lower sash of the Cabrio opens outward from the bottom, and rails slide down to form sides. The top sash is hinged at the top and opens outward. Velux says of the units, “Enjoy a balcony instantly”.
Sun Tunnels are Velux’s tubular models. Two lines are made. Rigid Sun Tunnels provide daylight immediately below the roof opening.
Flexible Sun Tunnels are ideal for working around obstacles like vents in the attic space. They also allow you to position the lower end so that it is not directly below the roof opening.
The company also produces modular skylights which are multiple units built into a common framework and commercial skylights.
Velux makes a full range of accessories. Several types of blinds such as room darkening and Venetian blinds can be added to Skylights and Roof Windows.
The Sunscreening tray is available in sizes for most windows to cut UV penetration and glare. Several glass and coating options control light and reduce energy loss.
Velux makes several handheld and wall-mounted remotes plus a home automation integration kit for smart homes.
For roof windows, insert screens keep out insects while security locks give peace of mind.
Velux makes a small solar night light and battery kit for its Sun Tunnels. The light goes on when the sky is dark.
Daylight controllers, lenses that optimize light gathering, a blackout shade and decorative diffusers enhance performance. A range of tubular extensions and elbows accommodate your specific installation requirements.
This Polish company holds a distant second place in market share behind Velux. Fakro makes a more limited catalog of all the same types as Velux, but is one of two manufacturers that rivals the industry giant in quality, styles and options.
Skylights are manufactured in Premium Deck mounted and Universal Curb mounted styles. Like Velux, the company makes fixed skylights and vented units with manual, electric and solar control.
Roof Windows are built in three styles: top hung, center pivot and a line that is different than anything Velux offers, high pivot.
The value of the high-pivot windows is that the lower end of the sash is raised up and out of the way for obstruction-free viewing.
Fakro also makes roof access windows.
Light Tunnels are produced in several styles with both rigid and flexible tubing.
Fakro accessory options are more limited. Electric roller blinds control light from within. External awnings eliminate light penetration.
Control units include handheld and wall-mounted models.
Kennedy fixed skylights are made in curb mounted and deck mounted models from about 14”x30” to 26”x72” and 50” square.
Kennedy’s vented skylight series is offered in similar sizes in tempered and laminated glass options. They are manually operated.
Only rigid tubular skylights are available from Kennedy. The tube has two adjustable elbows, so the tube can be straight or offset.
EZ Tubular is a brand of tubular skylights carried by Home Depot. Lowes carries Sun-Tek, a brand producing cheap to moderately priced fixed skylights. There are a few other minor brands, but none offers more than a limited range of products.
Skylight Cost Factors
There are a few key factors that determine total cost.
Roof condition: As noted above, installation costs are much lower on new construction and when an old roof has been torn off for re-roofing.
Roof type: When installed in existing roofing, costs are lowest when installing on an asphalt roof. Cost is 12% to 20% higher for wood shingles and shakes and up to 33% higher when installing a skylight in clay or concrete tiles.
Type: Tubular skylights cost significantly less because they are smaller, fit between trusses to eliminate elaborate framing work, are simpler in design, offer fewer features and take just a fraction of the time to install.
Size: The larger a fixed or vented skylight or roof window is, the more it will cost.
Fixed or vented: Prices for manually operated vented windows are $200 to $500 higher than for fixed windows.
Manual, solar or electric vented models: Manual units cost the least. Solar-powered skylights and roof windows cost $600 to $900 more. The cost for non-solar electric units goes up another $150 to $500 due to the need for the installation of electrical wiring.
Who installs the skylight: Buying your own window and hiring a handyman or roofer to install it will cost less than hiring a skylight specialist. However, we recommend using an experienced skylight company that installs them every day rather than someone that dabbles in skylight installation.
Skylight Features and Options
Here’s an overview of the options offered by Velux and Fakro, and Kennedy to a lesser extent:
Interior blinds and shades are available in several styles, and a rainbow of colors. Blinds are operated manually or remotely depending on the skylight/roof window model.
Interior materials including wood and non-wood options with a range of color finishes give your skylight or roof window the look you want.
Screens can be inserted and removed from some vented models.
Exterior covers either eliminate light penetration or darken it.
Self-flashed units include integrated flashing for improved resistance to leaks and shorter installation time.
Glass is available in standard, tempered and several insulated energy-efficient packages. Tempered glass is essential in areas where storms cause windblown debris. A broken skylight followed by torrential rains cause serious water damage.
Electric and solar-powered units can be operated by handheld or wall mounted controls including smart home kits.
Tubular light diffusers, light-gathering heads, blackout covers, integrated solar lights and tube extensions allow for customized installation and performance. Tough polycarbonate domes are often installed in high-velocity wind zones.
Finding a Skylight Installer
We think it’s important to leave this work to a company that specializes in it. It also makes sense to hire a company with a track record – one you can expect to be in business in the years to come if you have issues with your roof window or skylight.
Make sure the company you hire is licensed and insured. They will be working on your roof, so there is a liability factor. Their work, when installing a new rather than replacement window, will penetrate your roof deck, creating the risk of water leaks.
Liability insurance is essential, and so is the worker’s comp to protect you, the homeowner from being liable for any injuries that may occur on the job site. Being bonded is further assurance that if the work is not completed or isn’t done properly, you’ll be protected financially.
Finally, make sure you get a warranty on both the window and labor, so that if your skylight does fail, you will be protected whether it was a material or installation problem.