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What’s the difference between a conservatory and an orangery?

The significant difference is that an orangery has a flat roof with a glazed lantern. In contrast, conservatories have no lantern and a standard roof fitting and are at least 75% glazed. You can tell the difference quickly by looking at the roof – structures with no lantern and a standard roof are conservatories and vice versa.

Orangeries are more desirable than conservatories because the solid perimeter roof and lantern are viewed as bespoke extensions of the home. Conservatories look more like bolt-on structures rather than proper extensions.

The key difference

A conservatory has a pitched roof, while an orangery has a flat roof perimeter with a glass lantern. Additionally, conservatories have minimal blockwork with a 75% glass construction, while orangeries have more blockwork.

What is a conservatory?

A conservatory is a bolt-on property extension with low-level brick walls and high-level glazed walls attached to the main house but disconnected internally with a door.

Contrary to what some people say, a conservatory does not require a glazed roof to be classed as a conservatory, and it only requires a 75% glazed construction, which can be the walls or roof, split any way you like.

Conservatories are not classed as structural extensions because they are not part of the house but separate structures. As such, they do not usually have central heating and an internal door separating them from the house.

You can also get conservatories with a lightweight, warm roof, such as the Leka system. This replaces the glazed roof with a tiled roof, providing superior insulation and protection against glare – the biggest complaints with glazed roofs.

We designed the Leka Lightweight Roof to outperform as well as outlast common glass and polycarbonate roofing systems. It’s so good it has been approved by MFA, the approved building inspector licenced by the Government.

What is an orangery?

An orangery has a non-standard roof with a solid perimeter and tiled construction, and it also has a lantern in the middle to flood the space with light.

In addition to the roof’s solid perimeter (which also creates an interior pelmet ideal for wall lights), the roof lantern is the hallmark of any orangery.

Orangeries are not structural extensions, but they have a partly solid roof, making them blend in better with most houses.

Orangeries first appeared in 17th century northern Europe to protect orange trees and other fruit trees during the winter. However, it was only in the 19th century that glazed lanterns became fashionable to let in more light.

Which is right for me?

Conservatories are more popular than orangeries because they are around 50% cheaper. This means a £12k conservatory is equivalent to an £18k orangery.

Additionally, conservatories suit most homes better, with the lantern on an orangery looking out of place next to ordinary houses.

However, an orangery is a superior option if your home is brimming with character or bespoke. Orangeries are stunning glazed buildings that feel like a natural home extension, creating a better connection with the outdoors.