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An abundance of natural light is one of many features people appreciate in any home or commercial space. But in rooms found in a building’s interior—bathrooms, in particular—a window to let in natural light may not be an option. In such cases, a flat, domed or tubular skylight can let some light in. Skylight installation costs range from $450 to $1,500 or more, depending on the type of skylight and complexity of the project.

Skylight type

There are three primary types of skylights manufactured today: tubular, fixed and vented. A tubular skylight is a 10- to 14-inch diameter tube that’s installed into the roof and covered with glass or plexiglass. Manufacturers claim that these skylights have the illuminating effect of a few 100-watt light bulbs and can light a 200-square-foot space. Most have a diffuser in one end to soften glare, but because they are round, they don’t provide a view the way a fixed skylight can. Tubular skylights are a little bit easier to insulate than vented skylights because the tube fits snugly into the ceiling/roof opening and does not open or close. A fixed skylight is a window installed in a roof that also does not open or close to allow air to circulate from outside. A vented skylight is one that opens (vents) to allow air in from outside either with a hand crank or electronically via a remote control or push button. Some newer models are powered by a small solar panel, eliminating the need for additional wiring.

Some fixed skylights are domed. These are actually flat skylights with glass panes covered by a clear or tinted acrylic dome that increases energy efficiency. Jim Tucker of Jim Tucker Roofing in Phoenix, Arizona, recommends that customers in his part of Arizona use double-domed skylights because of the hot, dry climate. Vented skylights are less common there because homeowners want light but not the heat, especially in the summer. Here are some cost ranges for installing the most common types of skylights:

  • Tubular: $450 and up

  • Fixed: $450–$1,000

  • Vented: $750 and up

  • Fixed double-domed: $450 and up

Mounting technique

There are also two ways to mount skylights in roofs: deck mounting, in which the skylight is installed directly on the roof deck, and curb mounting, in which the skylight is mounted in a wooden frame that creates additional height. Deck mounting is recommended for roofs with a pitch between 15 and 85 degrees. Curb mounting is used if the roof has a pitch of at least 60 degrees. Curb mounting increases installation costs because it will require more time, and materials will cost more as well.

Tucker of Jim Tucker Roofing says the most affordable way to install one or more skylights is to have them put in at the same time a new roof is put on. This can reduce the cost of installing a skylight by half, depending on the cost of the skylights themselves.

Roof type and pitch

A roof’s pitch affects the cost to install a skylight because that influences how it’s mounted as well as how long it will take contractors to rough in the opening, mount it properly and seal it well enough to avoid leaks.

Installing a chase

In homes with attics, a skylight chase is often added to help funnel light from the roof through the skylight. Chases are typically framed with drywall and finished with paint or other coverings, so they cost quite a bit to build. Including a chase with a home skylight costs about $1,500 more.

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