Travel trailer and motorhome skylights are installed in many units, and they offer the benefit of allowing natural light into the RV. Most RV manufacturers include an RV skylight installation in the shower area. This increases the height of the ceiling to give you more headroom when showering.
Some also may have skylights installed in a rear galley area, where extra light is required for food preparation.
If you don't have one already, adding a skylight can increase the value of your RV by making the interior appear larger. You can add a skylight to an RV for a low price and only a little bit of labor.
An RV Skylight is most often found in more upscale motorhomes and travel trailers, but they can also be found in smaller camping trailers or teardrop trailers, like the ones from Timberleaf Trailers. Putting in a teardrop camper skylight can have a huge effect on such a small space by letting light into it.
Make sure when you are purchasing that you don't confuse an RV skylight with an RV roof vent. The skylight is a fixed dome that doesn't open, but only allows light to come in. They come in two versions: a single dome fixed to the roof or a roof dome with a dome that installs from the RV interior, called an inner.
RV skylight installations that have an inner and outer dome have the benefit of increased insulation from heat and cold. This is because the air gap between the two domes acts as an insulator while still allowing the light to come through.
By contrast, an RV vent is usually approximately 14"X14" and has a vent lid that lifts for air circulation. These may or may not be equipped with a fan to move air into or out of the RV. Replacement of these vents or vent covers is covered in another article.
In this article, we'll tell you about how to select a skylight for your RV roof, how to replace a skylight on a trailer or motorhome, how to clean an RV skylight and some maintenance tips for your camper skylight dome.
Camper Skylight Cover Maintenance
Clean the exterior dome of your trailer skylight cover frequently. Bird droppings and tree sap, as well as road dirt and grime, can prematurely degrade the surface of your RV skylight.
You can also treat the surface of the camper skylight vent with a plastic conditioner to improve the UV resistance. Doing this will prevent the skylight from becoming brittle and more prone to cracking.
Even if you do this, you may still end up with a cracked camper skylight. Falling tree branches can cause cracks in the skylight. Also, hailstorms are probably the number one cause of this type of damage.
If you want to know how to protect RV skylights from hail, the only way would be to cover them with rubber, foam or even a carpet. This will deaden the impact of the hailstones and prevent hail damage.
It is very difficult to repair a cracked RV skylight effectively, it is always better to purchase a new RV roof skylight cover. A trailer or motorhome skylight repair is usually never successful long term. Also, the damage and repair will always be visible from the inside.
As you are doing your spring and fall roof inspection, include the sealant around the skylight as a place to check for broken, cracked or missing roof sealant. Apply new lap sealant over missing or broken areas.
Buyer's Guide: RV Skylights
If you've decided on a motorhome or travel trailer skylight replacement, the next thing you need to do is figure out what configuration, size and color of the new skylight dome you need.
RV Skylights come in three configurations: square, rectangular or neo-angle. Neo-angle skylights are square on three corners and have the fourth corner cut off on a 45-degree angle. These neo-angle skylights are most used where there is a neo-angle shower pan of the same shape below.
Next determine what size of RV skylight you need to replace your existing one. You can choose to measure either the size of the raw inside hole or the overall size of the outside dome, including the flange. (The flange is the flat border where the skylight is screwed to the RV.) It is recommended to measure both.
It may be difficult to see the edge of the flange on the roof because it should be covered by lap sealant but make your best guess.
If you have an inner and outer dome configuration, it's most like that you are facing an RV skylight outer dome replacement. It's not often the inner dome gets damaged, because the outer dome protects it.
If you need an outer dome replaced in a two-dome system, make sure you measure the height of the highest part of the dome from the roof line. It's important in two dome installations to have the outer dome high enough to clear the inner one.
Finally, determine what color you want the replacement to be. Generally, RV skylight domes come in three colors
Smoke (or Tinted Gray)
Once you have the configuration, size and color determined, you can go shopping. If you can't find a skylight the exact size, you can go a little bigger (on the outer dome) if you don't have any vents, air conditioners or other rooftop installations close by.
How to do a Trailer or Motorhome Skylight Replacement
If you've never installed a skylight in an RV before, don't worry, it is a straightforward process. A camper skylight replacement can be done in just a couple of hours, while a new DIY camper skylight installation might add an hour or two to that process.
Here's what you will need to do the replacement of your RV skylight cover:
A plastic putty knife
Screwdrivers and screws
Some mineral spirits (optional)
A roll of Butyl tape at least the length of the perimeter of the flange
2 Tubes of Lap Sealant (use one of the best sealants for motorhome skylights, like Dicor. Don't use a residential silicone sealant)
and here is a step-by-step process to complete it.
Scrape away the old sealant with the putty knife. We recommended a plastic knife because you need to be careful that you do not damage the roofing membrane. You can use the mineral spirits to soften up the putty and make removal easier. Try not to get any spirits on the roof membrane and, if you do, wipe it off immediately as it will eat into the rubber roof.
Remove the screws. We recommend that you discard the screws and use new ones for the re-installation.
Remove the old RV dome. Gently pry the flange away from the roof with your putty knife a section at a time. Take care not to tear the roofing membrane.
Scrape away any sealant that remains. There will still be some sealant and butyl tape residue on the roof. Remove as much of it as possible it with the putty knife and mineral spirits (if necessary.)
Apply the putty tape across the underside of the flange. Make sure you run it over top of the row of holes on each side.
Place the Skylight in position. Place the RV skylight on the roof so that the flange and installed butyl tape covers the existing screw holes. If you have replaced the dome with a larger one and the old holes are exposed on the inside, fill them with lap sealant before installing the new skylight.
Fasten the flange down with self-tapping. TIP: Cover the end of each screw with lap sealant before screwing it in. Tighten each of the screws, until they the plastic of the new skylight begins to flex a bit. Do not over tighten them or you may crack the new skylight.
Apply a generous amount of lap sealant. Apply sealant across the entire perimeter of the flange, including the screws and the roof area right around the flange. This will seal the skylight from eater entering the RV.
Allow the sealant to dry. The sealant will take about 24 hours to fully dry and cure. When it's done, check for shrinkage and shrinkage. Apply additional sealant as required.
With proper maintenance, your RV skylight will provide you with years of enjoyment
RV Skylight Accessories
There are some optional accessories that can be added to your new skylight, like:
RV Skylight Blinds
RV Vent Insulator and Skylight Covers
RV Skylight Shades
Replacement inside Garnishes (some with built-in LED Lighting
If you are shopping for an RV skylight, one of our customer service representatives will be happy to help. Just call, chat or email us for assistance.