Sunroof VS Moonroof: What’s The Difference?

Panoramic Moonroof

If you do not own a convertible but long for a way to enjoy the outdoors, getting a sunroof or a moonroof is your next best option. Not only is it good for the scenery, but it is also good for extra ventilation! While similar, you should understand the differences between a sunroof and a moonroof before adding one to your car.

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There are mainly two types of sunroofs available on the market. The first is a pop-up sunroof, which is a removable panel that usually operates through a hatch. The other is a slider sunroof that is built between the interior liner and roof of the car. While pop-up sunroofs are a cheaper option, they require extra storage when the panel is removed, and have smaller openings than slider sunroofs.

1937 Derby Bentley

1937 Derby Bentley with front sliding panels. Source: Classic Cars

The first sunroofs on cars were seen on an automobile style called Coupé de Ville, which were popular during the 1920s. They were originally created for chauffeurs to be seen as a way for car owners to flaunt their wealth. Over time, Bentley popularised cars meant for owners to drive themselves that were equipped with sliding panels. Sunroofs thereby shifted its luxurious status from a way to flaunt chauffeurs to a way to exclusively enjoy the weather.

1933 Hillman Aero Minx

1933 Hillman Aero Minx with the first-ever ‘moonroof’. Source: Concours Virtual

Sunroofs were mainly opaque as they were made of metal panels resembling the roof of cars. However, this did not allow drivers and passengers to enjoy the view on rainy days. Automobile manufacturers started to incorporate glass into their sunroofs, and even replaced some sunroofs as full glass panels. This was the birth of what would be known as the moonroof.


Panoramic Moonroof

Panoramic Moonroof. Source: Francois K

Moonroofs began as a variation of the sunroof, but was given its name by John Atkinson, a Ford marketing manager, in the 1970s. They are specifically made of glass and more recently, plexiglass. This allow passengers to view their surroundings without having to remove the panel as it fully operates via a sliding mechanism.


The main difference between sunroofs and moonroofs lies in the removability of the panel. While sunroofs require users to remove the panel to let light in, moonroofs do not require that. Instead, moonroofs give you the option of installing a panoramic panel. Having a panoramic panel allows passengers to get a 360 view of their surroundings while allowing for maximal airflow.


If you are considering whether to get a sunroof or a moonroof, consider the main purpose of getting one. For those who just want extra ventilation, the most economical option is to get a sunroof installed. In contrast, those who are looking for a way to stargaze on a clear night would definitely benefit more from getting a moonroof.

Whichever your choice is, you now have a better understanding of the different options available to you.

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