What’s the Difference Between Sunroom and Conservatory

Sunrooms and Conservatories

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Defining Sunrooms and Conservatories

Both sunrooms and conservatories are structures attached to a home to provide additional living space. However, there are some key differences between the two.

Related: Conservatory Prices & Costs

Similarities Between Sunrooms and Conservatories

Sunrooms and conservatories have some common characteristics. Both are composed mainly of windows and have glass roofs to let in natural light. They expand the living area of a home. Additionally, sunrooms and conservatories can have heating and cooling systems and electricity installed to make them comfortable spaces usable all year round.

Key Differences

While sunrooms and conservatories share some traits, there are distinctions in purpose, design, and cost.

Purpose and Use

Sunrooms are intended as extra living areas to relax or entertain. Conservatories started as spaces to grow plants, hence the name, but now also serve as living areas.

Appearance and Design

Sunrooms have more solid wall space and fewer window areas, while conservatories are nearly all glass. Sunrooms often have decorative treatments on the windows and walls matching the home’s style. Conservatories usually have ornate Victorian style details.


Building a sunroom is typically less expensive than adding a conservatory. The increased glass and decorative details of conservatories raise their price.

Related: What’s the difference between a conservatory, orangery and sunroom?

Making the Choice: Sunroom or Conservatory?

When deciding between installing a sunroom or conservatory, there are a few key factors to weigh.

Lifestyle and Needs

Consider how you want to use the space. Sunrooms work well as casual living rooms for relaxing or entertaining. Conservatories, with lots of light and air circulation, are great spaces for cultivating plants or filling with seating areas.

Climate and Location

Conservatories allow bringing the outdoors inside. In temperate climates, their increased ventilation keeps them comfortable. Sunrooms with more insulation retain heat better for colder regions. Also, conservatories stand out more as structures in backyards, while sunrooms blend with homes’ styles.


Sunrooms don’t require specialised construction and use fewer custom components than conservatories, making them the less pricey choice. For ornate Victorian style details, custom glass features, and intricate decorative touches, conservatories offer beauty and uniqueness for an increased budget.

Related: Which is best? A conservatory, sunroom or Garden Room?

Pros and Cons of Sunrooms

Sunrooms provide affordable extra living space. Their mostly solid walls, ventilation controls, and heating/cooling capabilities allow comfortable year-round use. However, their style options are more limited than conservatories. With fewer windows than conservatories, they don’t maximise light or views.

Related: How Much Does a Sunroom Extension Cost?

Pros and Cons of Conservatories

Conservatories create bright, inviting spaces offering connection with outdoor views and light. Their style options from Victorian to modern feature custom details. However, significant glass areas make regulating temperature challenging. Increased ventilation can lead to dust and leaves entering. Conservatories also come at a higher cost for specialised materials and construction.

Related: Conservatory Styles Gallery and Ideas


While sunrooms and conservatories both expand homes’ livable space, they serve different priorities. Sunrooms offer casually styled, affordable extra rooms for year-round use. Conservatories provide ornately styled spaces for entertaining or gardening with maximum light and views. Evaluating climate, budget, lifestyle needs and aesthetic preferences helps determine if a sunroom or conservatory better suits your home. With their similar framing but differences in finishes and features, sunrooms and conservatories can both enhance quality of life.


What are the main differences between a sunroom and a conservatory?

The main differences are in their purpose, design, and cost. Sunrooms work well as casual living spaces. Conservatories were traditionally for growing plants but now also serve as decorative living areas. Sunrooms have more solid walls while conservatories maximise glass. Building a basic sunroom is typically less expensive than adding an ornate conservatory.

Which is better in cold climates, a sunroom or conservatory?

For cold climates, a sunroom is usually the better choice. With more insulated solid wall space and options for heating systems, sunrooms retain warmth better to allow comfortable use year-round in cold weather.

Which provides better views, a sunroom or conservatory?

With nearly all-glass walls and roof, a conservatory provides better outdoor views. Sunrooms allow nice light with decorative windows but have more opaque wall space blocking some views.

Are sunrooms and conservatories energy efficient?

It depends. Basic sunrooms and conservatories won’t be very energy efficient due to all the glass. But upgraded models are available with insulated glass, thermal breaks in framing, and high-performance glazing options that greatly improve energy efficiency. Heating and cooling systems can also be controlled efficiently.

What is generally less expensive to build, a sunroom or conservatory?

Sunrooms are generally the less expensive option. Conservatories require more custom construction for intricate glass features and decorative detailing. These specialised materials and finishing elements increase the price of building a conservatory versus adding a sunroom.

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