How to open a Skylight with an Actuator

How to use an Actuator to open and close a Skylight

Skylight Actuators

Skylights are an attractive and practical feature that can add natural light and ventilation to any room. The latest skylight technology allows for convenient and easy operation, making them an ideal choice for homes, offices, and commercial buildings. In this white paper, we will explore the benefits of having an electrically operated skylight, and how an actuator can be used to control it. We will also provide information on the different types of actuators available, how to choose the best actuator for your skylight, and how to install it.

How Skylights Open and Close

Skylights are typically opened and closed using a manual or motorized mechanism. Manual skylights can be opened using a hand crank or rod, while motorized skylights are operated using a remote control or wall switch. With the advancement of technology, electrically operated skylights are becoming more popular, as they provide a convenient and easy-to-use solution.

The Benefits of Electrically Operated Skylights

One of the main benefits of electrically operated skylights is the ease of use. With the touch of a button, you can open and close your skylight, making it easier to control the natural light and ventilation in your home or building. In addition, electrically operated skylights are more energy efficient than manually operated skylights, as they can be programmed to automatically open and close based on the time of day or the presence of natural light.

Another advantage of electrically operated skylights is improved safety. By using an actuator to control the skylight, you can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries that can occur when opening and closing the skylight manually. This is especially important for skylights that are difficult to reach, or for those who have mobility issues.

Types of Actuators for Skylights

There are several types of actuators available for controlling skylights, including Electric linear actuators, rotary actuators, and linear servo actuators. Linear actuators are the most commonly used for skylights, as they provide a simple and reliable solution for opening and closing the skylight. Rotary actuators are also a good choice for skylight operation, as they provide a more compact and efficient solution but harder to install and control. Linear actuators provide the highest level of precision and control, making them an ideal choice for complex skylight systems.

We recommend the the FIRGELLI bullet 35 cal model for this type of application. Click the actuator below to view these actuators   

Linear Actuator for a Skylight

When choosing an actuator for your skylight, it is important to consider the weight and size of the skylight, as well as the type of mechanism used to open and close it. For example, if your skylight uses a crank or rod mechanism already you need to disconnect it first before installing the actuator. 

How to Install an Actuator in a Skylight

The installation of an actuator in a skylight will depend on the type of actuator and the mechanism used to open and close the skylight. Generally, the actuator is attached to the skylight mechanism, and is connected to a power source and a control system.

If you are installing a linear actuator, you will need to attach one end of the actuator to the skylight mechanism and the other end to a support structure. The actuator should be level and properly aligned with the skylight mechanism to ensure smooth operation.

Actuator placement for Skylight

The image above shows different ways to connect a skylight to an Actuator.  All three of these methods work just fine but there are trade-offs.  The closer the motor end of the Actuator is to the pivot point (hinge) of the skylight is the greater the force required because the torque is much higher.  Image C shows this clearly.  The further away the motor end of the Actuator is installed to the skylight hinge is, the lower the force required is, as you can see in image B.   Image A is a good compromise ideally.  Also the stroke requirements changed based on where you install the moving end of the Actuator on the skylight itself.  So in all 3 examples above you can see the attachment point is all the same. If the attaching point however was moved closer to the hinge on the skylight end then the stroke required will be much lower BUT the force required goes up.   The exact inverse is true for attaching it at the other end of the Skylight as less force would be required and much lower force also. 

We have created an Actuator calculator to help you choose the ideal Actuator stroke and force depending on the size and weight of the skylight you want to automate.  Below is a snapshot of how the calculator works   Click here or on the image below to view the Actuator Calculator

Actuator Calculator

If you are installing a rotary or linear servo actuator, the installation process is similar, with the actuator being attached to the skylight mechanism and connected to a power source and control system. However, these types of actuators may require additional components, such as gearboxes or control electronics, to ensure proper operation.

Once the actuator is installed, it is important to test the operation of the skylight to ensure that it opens and closes smoothly and securely. This may require making adjustments to the actuator, the skylight mechanism, or the control system.

Options for Installing an Actuator in a Skylight

There are several options for installing an actuator in a skylight, including:

  1. Do-it-yourself (DIY) installation: For those who are handy and have experience with electrical and mechanical systems, a DIY installation can be an affordable and rewarding option. However, it is important to follow proper safety procedures and to ensure that the actuator is installed correctly to avoid potential damage to the skylight or injury to yourself.
  2. Professional installation: For those who prefer a more secure and reliable solution, a professional installation may be the best choice. A professional installation will typically include a site survey, the supply and installation of the actuator and control system, and the testing and commissioning of the skylight.
  3. Pre-assembled skylight with actuator: For those who prefer a turn-key solution, a pre-assembled skylight with an actuator is an ideal choice. This type of skylight is delivered complete and ready to install, eliminating the need for any additional components or installation services.


In conclusion, an actuator is an excellent way to control the opening and closing of a skylight, providing improved convenience, energy efficiency, and safety. There are several types of actuators available, and choosing the best one will depend on the type of skylight and the mechanism used to open and close it. The installation of an actuator in a skylight can be done by a DIY installation, a professional installation, or by purchasing a pre-assembled skylight with an actuator.

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