What is a Sunroof?

Harriette Halepis

A sunroof is a type of opening within a vehicle that allows both light and air to enter the passenger space. Most sunroofs today are operated electrically, though some of these openings can be operated manually. Sunroofs have come a long way from their original beginnings, and today's sunroofs hardly resemble those from a few years ago.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Originally, a sunroof was comprised of one opaque pane of glass that was operated manually. This single layer of glass could be minimally opened or closed to reveal fresh air or sunshine. In 1973, a Ford marketing manager created the moonroof. This type of roof included a translucent pane of glass that not only opened, but allowed passengers to view the outside world through the glass even when the moonroof was closed.

Today, both moonroofs and sunroofs still exist, though both terms have largely become interchangeable. Additionally, sunroofs and moonroofs have morphed into many different types and styles that are available all over the world. Styles include pop-up, spoiler, inbuilt, folding, top-mount, panoramic, and removable roof panels. The main difference between each type is based upon the actual movement of the roof.

While some roofs tilt and slide, other roofs are entirely removable. The amount of roof surface area covered by glass is also a way to differentiate between the numerous types of sunroofs available. Most of the newer models are electronic, though some of them are operated manually. Typically, manually operated sunroofs tend to be less expensive than electronic editions.

Sunroofs can be factory installed, or they can be added to certain vehicles once an automobile has left the factory. Almost all automobile companies now offer various versions of the sunroof or moonroof. In addition, newer sunroofs are being invented frequently, as most consumers desire larger panels of glass that give way to a greater amount of light and air.

Recent sunroof inventions are geared towards capturing energy from the sun in order to create an efficient, environmentally friendly, automobile. Solar sunroofs are a great example of this newer technology, and these roofs bring a whole different meaning to the original sunroof concept. Solar roofs are made of glass that are fitted with an actual solar panel. The object of the solar panel is to create electricity that will, in turn, activate interior fans. The idea behind this invention is to cool down the interior of a hot car when the car is not in use.

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