Moonroof vs Sunroof: What is the difference?

Updated Jan 14, 2021 | Same topic: Technical Car Terms to Know

Read to find out the difference between moon roof and sunroof.

With the continuous advancements of the automotive industry, car manufacturers have come up with different ways to install a sunroof in their cars while still keeping them as affordable as possible. Installing a sunroof would increase a model’s costs with the added parts such as panes and actuators.

As sunroofs become more accessible these days, we find out that there are actually different types of sunroofs that are widely available in many cars today. Another common type of sunroof that is getting more popular is called the moonroof.

Sunroof

Panoramic moonroofs are a great way to enjoy driving

So with that being said, let’s discover what the differences between sunroofs and moonroofs are. And from there, you could decide which of the two common types best suits you.

What is the difference between sunroof and moonroof in a car?

 What is a sunroof?

Sunroof is the term used since the introduction of this car part on the 1937 model Nash. It is a panel that can be extended and retracted generally constructed in metal. The two primary purposes of a sunroof are to provide ventilation to the cabin and let the light come in for enhanced ambiance.

>>> Related: Top 10 affordable cars with panoramic sunroof to buy

What is a moonroof?

On the other hand, a moonroof poses a lot of similarities with a sunroof. Both a moonroof and sunroof provide drivers and passengers a feel for the environment outside the car. The main difference between the two is that moonroofs are made from glass.

Sunroof vs moonroof: Same same but different?

Yes, both the sunroof and moonroof are the same when it comes to the benefits they provide for passengers. But as said earlier, the main difference is the materials used in manufacturing them. Sunroofs are made of metal, while moonroofs are made of glass.

A girl out of a sunroof

Sticking your head out of a sunroof while the vehicle is in motion is dangerous

You can think of sunroofs as sunshades. With the way it is constructed, it is opaque which provides the best protection for passengers against sunlight. It can be opened by the driver partially and fully depending on the desired settings that work best for the cabin.

Meanwhile, moonroofs don’t provide as great of a protection from sunlight as sunroofs. However, they are installed with heavy tints so the heat wouldn’t be severe. The main advantage of a moonroof is that passengers can enjoy the view of tall buildings and the skies especially at night.

Opened sunroof

Sunroofs can help ventilate your car's interior

Newer cars tend to go for moonroofs instead of sunroofs. The reason for this is that moonroofs tend to be more aesthetically appealing and offer more versatility as compared to sunroofs. Moonroofs were introduced in the 70s by the American car brand Ford and have become more and more popular since then.

Difference between sunroof and moonroof: Comparison table

 

Sunroof

Moonroof

Size

Sunroofs are smaller than moonroofs in comparison. This type of roof panel is usually located on the driver side

Moonroofs are larger in size. The reason why moonroofs are larger is to allow sunlight to illuminate the cabin from the front to the back

Material

Metal

Glass

Purpose

The main purpose of installing a sunroof is to block sunlight

Allow light to enter the cabin in the morning and also allow an enhanced view of the outside at night

Removable

Yes

 No

How many types of car roofs are there?

Aside from sunroofs and moonroofs, there are actually more types of car roofs that are still offered in the market. Here are the four other types of car roofs.

1. Built-in – this type of car roof is one of the oldest designs. It offers a great view from the cabin and can be opened partially for better ventilation.

2. Pop-up – the thing to note in this car roof is that it can be opened and retracted manually. Pop-up car roofs utilize a liver hatch to allow air inside the cabin.

3. Panoramic – as the name implies, panoramic usually runs the length of the roof. It offers the best in terms of outside view from the cabin due to the length.

4. Spoiler – this is similar with the built-in car roof. The only difference between the two is that a spoiler car roof slides its pane outside the car instead of sliding in.

MG 5 top view

The MG 5 is one of the most affordable vehicles in the country that comes with a sunroof

Sunroof and moonroof: Pros & Cons? Which is better?

Pros

Both sunroofs and moonroofs provide benefits for drivers and passengers. These car roofs help air to come in the car which provides good ventilation. Sunroofs and moonroofs can eliminate the foul smell from foods and other materials once opened. Aside from ventilation, they also help light to enter the cabin for enhanced visibility.

Cons

One of the most common cons of installing a car roof is that it slightly disrupts the overall rigidity and balance of a car. Instead of a full and solid roof, you get a pane for aesthetics. Plus, both sunroofs and moonroofs add weight and cost to the car.

Sunroof vs moonroof: Which is better?

The sunroof and moonroof are highly similar to each other. Some even use the term sunroof for moonroofs usually for marketing purposes. However, many would agree that moonroofs are better than sunroofs. Moonroofs offer great versatility and functionality over sunroofs. The only downside of a moonroof is that it cannot be removed like a sunroof.

How much does it cost to install a sunroof or moonroof?

Installing a sunroof or a moonroof is not a budget-friendly mod to accomplish, but it sure is rewarding for car owners. For a car roof that is manually-operated and smaller in size, expect to spend around Php 20,000 to Php 30,000. If you want a larger car roof that comes with actuators, you can expect a Php 70,000 to Php 110,000 for parts and labor.

Panoramic moonroof from inside

If you have the money, go for it

Whichever car roof you choose, whether a sunroof or a moonroof, be sure to choose that best suits your car type and your budget. Consult a car mechanic when installing either a sunroof or a moonroof as it can cause an imbalance in your car.  

Sunroof vs Moonroof: FAQs

Q: Are moonroofs more expensive than sunroofs?

Moonroofs are generally more expensive than sunroofs since they are made up of glass.

Q: What is a panoramic sunroof?

Cars with a panoramic sunroof are installed with a long glass on the roof usually for enhanced outside view.

Q: Can I install a sunroof in my car?

Yes, there are plenty of aftermarket sunroofs available with different price ranges.

Q: Can a moonroof be removed?

No, a moonroof can’t be removed. Only a sunroof comes with a function that allows you to remove it.

Q: How much does installing a moonroof cost?

The cost depends on the labor, length of glass, and the actuators. You can expect to spend around Php 85,000 for moonroof installation.

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Rex Sanchez

Rex Sanchez

Author

Rex started off his career in the aviation industry before entering Philkotse as a staff writer. Two things excite him the most: first is staying up to speed with the latest news in the industry that uses engines as their heart and soul. The second is imparting them in a well-detailed manner. His passion for anything with wheels started when he was young – from Tamiyas to family-friendly sedans, and anything in between.

Someday, Rex only wishes to drive on random highways with friends in a third-gen Mitsubishi Delica with aftermarket sunroofs, if he couldn’t get the Starwagon Super Exceed edition.

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