There are many different types of sunroof, and it can be difficult to navigate the myriad types and features at first. Here is a handy guide to the standard sunroof types and their features.
A pop-up sunroof (pop-up, hatch) is a manually operated tilting panel. These panels are typically glass and usually removable. The operating mechanism is typically a lever latch; however, some use a rotary crank jacking mechanism much like that of a car window. The tilting action provides a vent in the roof, or a full opening when the panel is removed. Pop-ups can be installed in most vehicles, and are relatively inexpensive.
Spoiler sunroofs (tilt-and-slide) combine the features of a pop-up with those of a sliding sunroof. They tilt to vent, and also slide open above the roof, requiring little headroom or roof length. Spoilers don't provide as large a clear opening as other sunroofs (typically only 60-70%), but offer the convenience of a self-storing panel. Most spoiler sunroofs are power operated, with optional features like integrated sunshades and electronic controls available. Spoilers are ideal for short-roofed vehicles where other types of sliders are too long to fit within the roof panel.
INBUILT Sunroofs (internal sliding, moonroofs) are usually electric and often factory options in luxury vehicles. Some imports use a painted steel panel, while domestic makers tend to prefer glass. The panel slides open between the external roof and interior headliner, requiring some loss of headroom, and provides a full opening in the roof. Many include a tilting feature for venting and electronic control. Inbuilts don't fit every vehicle as the panel must slide and store completely within the vehicle roof.
Folding sunroofs (rag-tops) are a European tradition. They offer the convenience of a sunroof, with an opening more like a convertible. The panel is made of fabric (vinyl), which folds back as it slides open. Folding sunroofs have been spotted on many recent concept cars. Original designs were manually operated, however most modern ones are now powered.
Top-mount sliding sunroofs (rail mount topslider) have been a popular factory option in Europe for many years. A large glass panel slides open in tracks on top of the roof, with no loss of headroom. Most feature an integral wind deflector to eliminate wind noise.
Panoramic roof systems are a new type of large or multi-panel sunroof which offers openings above both the front and rear seats and may be moveable or fixed glass panels. Large operable openings are often accomplished with top-mount slider or spoiler type mechanisms.
Removable roof panels (T-tops & Targa roofs) open a vehicle roof to the side windows, providing a wider opening than other sunroofs. T-roofs have two removable glass panels, and leave a T-shaped structural brace in the roof center.
Electric vs. Electronic: Motorised power sunroofs may be operated by a simple push-and-hold switch, or may include an electronic control module (ECM) to provide single touch express open, express close and/or auto-close on ignition off.
For more information, check our our many sunroof options on our sunroofs page, contact us or book a consultation online.