Skip to content
Smoke Vent Skylight

Smoke Vent Skylights

Smoke vent skylights are more than just a design feature; they’re a crucial safety component in modern building architecture. These specialized skylights not only provide natural daylighting but also serve as life-saving devices in emergency situations. In this article, we’ll explore what smoke vent skylights are, how they differ from regular vented skylights, why your building might need them, and how to maintain them for optimal performance.

What is a smoke vent skylight?

A smoke vent skylight is a unique type of skylight designed to automatically open in the event of a fire, allowing heat and smoke to escape from the building. This feature is not just an add-on; it’s a vital safety mechanism.


The primary components of a smoke vent skylight include the dome, usually made of materials like acrylic or polycarbonate, and the frame, often constructed from aluminum or galvanized steel. These materials are chosen for their durability and ability to withstand extreme conditions.


Smoke vent skylights operate automatically, triggered by a fusible link that melts at a specific temperature. Once the link melts, the vent opens, providing a pathway for heat and smoke to exit the building. This automatic operation is a crucial safety feature, ensuring timely ventilation during an emergency.

Codes and Standards

Smoke vent skylights are subject to rigorous industry standards, including UL 793, which outlines the requirements for automatically operated roof vents for smoke and heat. Adhering to these standards ensures that the product you choose will provide reliable performance when it matters most.

Smoke Vented Skylights vs. Regular Vented Skylights

While both smoke vented skylights and regular vented skylights offer the benefit of natural daylighting, their functionalities diverge when it comes to safety features and design specifications.

Design Differences

Regular vented skylights are primarily designed for ventilation and daylighting. They may come with manual or mechanical options for opening and closing. Smoke vent skylights, on the other hand, are engineered with safety as the primary focus. They are built to open automatically in the event of a fire, providing a critical path for heat and smoke to escape.

Safety Solutions

Smoke vent skylights come equipped with features like fusible links that trigger automatic opening at specific temperatures. These are not standard features in regular vented skylights, making smoke vent skylights superior in terms of safety solutions.

Different Safety Ratings

One of the most significant differences is the adherence to the UL 793 standard, which is specific to smoke vent skylights. This standard sets the criteria for how these skylights should operate, their load-bearing capacities, and other technical specifications. Regular vented skylights are not required to meet these stringent requirements.

Why should my building have smoke vents?

Smoke vent skylights are not just an optional feature; in many cases, they’re a requirement, especially for commercial and industrial buildings. Here’s why your building should consider installing them.

Safety First

Smoke vent skylights provide an essential safety feature by allowing for the rapid release of heat and smoke in the event of a fire. This natural ventilation can be a lifesaver, giving occupants more time to evacuate and making it easier for firefighters to do their job.

Compliance with Fire Code Requirements

Many local and national fire codes mandate the installation of smoke vent skylights or similar ventilation solutions. These skylights meet or exceed the fire code requirements, ensuring that your building is in compliance and reducing the risk of legal complications.

Commercial and Industrial Applications

Smoke vent skylights are particularly beneficial in commercial and industrial settings where large amounts of people or materials are present. These environments often have specific smoke vent needs that can be met with various models and sizes of smoke vent skylights.

Economical and Efficient

While the initial investment may seem high, smoke vent skylights are an economical choice in the long run. They offer dual functionality by providing both daylighting and safety features, reducing the need for additional lighting and ventilation components.

Innovative Features

Modern smoke vent skylights come with innovative features like impact-modified domes and frames made of superior materials like galvanized steel or aluminum. These features make them durable and reliable, ensuring they operate as expected when needed.

Skylight Smoke Vent Maintenance

Maintaining your heat and smoke vents is crucial for ensuring they function correctly when you need them the most. Here’s a step-by-step guide to keeping your units in optimal condition.

Regular Inspection

The first step in maintenance is regular inspection. Check the dome, frame, and other components for any signs of wear and tear. Make sure to also test the fusible link to ensure it’s in good condition.


Over time, the dome and frame can accumulate dirt and debris. Use a mild detergent and a soft brush to clean these parts. Avoid using abrasive materials that could scratch or damage the surface.


Certain mechanical parts may require lubrication for smooth operation. Consult your product manual to identify these components and the type of lubricant to use.

Test the Automatic Opening

It’s essential to periodically test the automatic opening feature to ensure it operates as expected. This can usually be done manually, but always refer to your product manual for specific instructions.

Check for Weather Impact

Extreme weather conditions can impact the performance of your smoke vent skylights. After a significant weather event, it’s advisable to inspect the unit for any damage or malfunction.

Professional Inspection

For a thorough evaluation, consider hiring a professional to assess the condition of your smoke vent skylights. They can provide technical insights and offer solutions if any issues are found.

Velux Modular Smoke Venting Skylights

Available Options and Features

When it comes to choosing the right smoke vent skylights for your building, you have a plethora of options. From the materials used to the technical specifications, here’s what you need to know.

Material Choices

Smoke vent skylights come in various materials, including acrylic, polycarbonate, and even impact-modified options for added durability. The frames can be made from aluminum, galvanized steel, or other metals, each offering its own set of advantages.

Size and Load Capacity

Smoke vent skylights are available in different sizes to meet your building’s specific needs. They are also designed to withstand various load capacities, making them suitable for both commercial and industrial applications.

Technical Specifications

Look for units that adhere to industry standards like UL 793, which ensures they meet the technical requirements for safety and performance. Some models even come with UL approved components for added peace of mind.

Innovative Models

The industry is continuously evolving, with manufacturers offering innovative models that provide superior performance and features. Whether it’s a signature series dome or a unit with advanced mechanical features, there’s likely a model that fits your specific needs.

Customization Options

Many manufacturers offer the option to customize your smoke vents, whether it’s the size, material, or other components. This allows you to tailor the product to meet your building’s unique requirements.

Smoke Venting Skylight for Industrial Buildings

Mechanical vs. Shrink-Out Smoke Vents: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to smoke vent skylights, there are two main types to consider: Mechanical and Shrink-Outs. Both are designed to enhance fire safety, but they operate differently and are suited for various applications.

Mechanical Smoke Vents

Mechanical smoke vents are designed to exceed the UL 793 Standard, which sets the criteria for automatically operated roof vents for smoke and heat. These units are typically more complex and may include mechanical components that trigger the vent to open automatically in the event of a fire. VELUX, among other manufacturers, offers this type of solution, ensuring that the vents meet or exceed industry standards for safety and performance.

Shrink-Out Smoke Vents

Shrink-out smoke vents feature acrylic double domes designed to automatically shrink and drop out when exposed to the high temperatures of a fire. This gravity-operated mechanism provides a simpler but effective means of venting smoke and heat when they fall out. These vent skylights are engineered with or without an ESFR-rated fusible link, offering additional customization based on your specific needs.

Economical and Code Compliant

Both types of vents are economical and designed to be code  compliant, making them suitable choices for various commercial and industrial applications. The key difference lies in their operation – mechanical vents are more complex but may offer more precise control, while shrink-out vents provide a simpler, gravity-operated solution.


Smoke vent skylights are an indispensable component in modern building design, offering both daylighting and critical safety features. Whether you opt for a mechanical model or a shrink-out unit, these skylights are engineered to provide reliable performance in the event of a fire. They adhere to industry standards like UL 793, ensuring they meet stringent technical and safety requirements.

Investing in smoke vent skylights is not just about meeting fire code requirements; it’s about providing a superior level of protection for building occupants. From commercial spaces to industrial applications, these units offer an economical and efficient solution for natural ventilation and smoke release. With various materials like acrylic and polycarbonate, as well as frames made from durable metals like aluminum and galvanized steel, you have a plethora of options to choose from.

Remember, regular maintenance and inspection are crucial for ensuring your smoke vent skylights operate as expected. Whether you’re in the market for a new installation or looking to upgrade, consider the impact, size, and technical specifications to find the product that best suits your need

Share This Article:
Glass Canopies for Commercial Buildings

Glass Canopies for Commercial Buildings

Glass canopies for commercial buildings serve as a modern architectural feature that combines style with functionality. These structures, typically mounted over entrances, walkways, or outdoor areas, offer protection from the
Read More
Fnished Attic vs. Finished Basement

Finished Attics vs. Basements – Which is Better?

When contemplating home expansions, homeowners often weigh the merits of finishing their attics against basements. This decision hinges on numerous factors, including cost, utility, and the potential for enhancing home
Read More
Velux Glass Options

Velux Glass Options

Velux glass options are plentiful. Choosing the right glass for skylights is crucial for enhancing energy efficiency, safety, and comfort in living spaces. VELUX skylights feature the advanced LoE3-366® glass
Read More
Velux Dynamic Domes Commercial Skylights

Velux Dynamic Domes

Enter VELUX Dynamic Domes, a pioneering skylight that redefines natural lighting in commercial spaces. Daylighting shapes the essence of modern architecture, merging aesthetics with sustainability. This innovative solution offers unparalleled
Read More
Skylights In Bathrooms

Are Skylights in Bathrooms a Good Idea?

Installing skylights in bathrooms offers numerous advantages. First, they introduce an abundance of natural light, making even the smallest spaces appear larger and more inviting. This natural illumination can enhance
Read More
Skylights Repair or Replace

Skylights Repair or Replace?

Should your older skylights be repaired or replaced? Skylights bring a slice of the sky into our homes, blending natural light with architectural beauty. Yet, homeowners often face a pivotal
Read More