Whether you’re looking to soak in as much daylight in your backyard in Tampa, FL, or enjoying your coffee on a rainy day in Seattle, WA, solariums can be a unique and gorgeous addition to your home. However, is a solarium the right investment for you? Or, would you be better off with a sunroom or a greenhouse, and what’s the difference between them anyways? Read on to find out what a solarium is, the pros and cons of adding a solarium to your home, and if it’s the right choice for you.
What is a solarium?
A solarium, also known as a conservatory, is a room made entirely out of glass. Intended for year-round use, solarium walls are made out of inch-thick double pane glass, maintaining energy efficiency while keeping out some of the cold and heat. You’ll be able to enjoy the perks of being outdoors without the weather dampening your plans, all within the comfort of your home.
What’s the difference between a solarium vs sunroom?
The difference between a solarium and a sunroom is quite simple – it’s down to the amount of glass used in its construction. While a solarium is made almost or entirely out of glass, a sunroom is built with large windows and a ceiling made with other materials. Sunrooms may have fans and insulation, making them usable year-round depending on the building materials used.
When you’re deciding on the right option, Rod Martin of Window World of Lubbock advises, “When we’re consulting a customer on an enclosed patio or sunroom, we steer them first toward understanding what they’re trying to achieve with the space rather than going straight to products. Thinking through how the room will be used, understanding the owner’s priorities, then moving toward how to give them the best year-round experience possible. For example, maximizing natural light might steer you toward a different solution than optimizing accessibility, as would leaning more into energy efficiency or security versus a strict focus on aesthetics. Every person, and therefore every solution, is different. And it’s better to know that up front. Our job is to help the customer think through those things on the front end, then deliver on the back end.”
Should I choose a sunroom over a solarium?
Depending on what you’re looking for, a sunroom may be more favorable since it’s generally cheaper to install and maintain. Although sunrooms are typically built for warmer weather, like spring and summer months, you can install additional upgrades such as heating and cooling systems to make them usable living space year-round. Sometimes, these sunrooms are called a “four-season room.” Sunrooms typically also require less maintenance and are often less expensive to build. The cost of a sunroom ranges between $8K to 50K, compared to $30K to $75k for a solarium. In some cases, you may be able to purchase a sunroom kit for a DIY project, cutting the costs down further.
When considering a sunroom installation, working with a company that specializes in these rooms may be the right option. When speaking with Curley & Sons, Inc. they said, “We’ve been serving New England over 20 years, specializing in sunroom restoration, design and installation. Unlike traditional home additions, a sunroom is an affordable way to expand your space. It is a bonus room that works for every season and any budget. With a wide range of architectural styles, you are bound to find one you love.”
What’s the difference between a solarium and a greenhouse?
A greenhouse is similar to a solarium, but their uses are often different. While you can use a solarium for various purposes, including growing plants, a greenhouse is typically dedicated to growing plants. Unlike solariums, greenhouses are made of either glass or translucent plastic. They’re designed to shelter plants and provide them with the optimal light to grow. So, if you’re looking for a place to relax or host guests, a greenhouse may not be the right option for you.
How much does a solarium cost?
A solarium can cost anywhere from $30K to $75k, depending on the space you want and the building materials needed. Since a solarium requires a steel structure to support the glass walls, ceiling, and double-pane glass, solariums are typically more expensive than a sunroom or enclosed patio. However, you’ll have an unobstructed view of the sky and your surroundings.
What are the pros and cons of adding a solarium?
When it comes to building a solarium, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider.
Pros of a solarium addition
Unobstructed views: One of the main pros of a solarium addition is the sweeping views of the outdoors. With glass walls and ceiling, you can watch the snow fall or enjoy the views on a sunny day, without anything blocking your views.
Protection from the weather: When considering a solarium, you may be wondering if it makes more sense to sit outside rather than in a glass enclosure. But imagine it’s raining during the summer and you want to enjoy the sound of the rain without getting wet. You can do that in a solarium. Solariums offer a layer of protection against the elements. That way you can enjoy an afternoon watching the rainfall from within the comfort of your home, but feel more closely connected to nature.
Multi-use: Solariums can be used in a multitude of ways, whether you’re using it as a place to read, practice outdoor yoga without being outside, stargazing, or even growing out of season plants. You can make use of a solarium in any way you desire.
Cons of a solarium addition
Maintenance: With an all-glass structure comes a lot of care. It can be difficult to keep a solarium’s views spotless when it’s constantly exposed to the elements.
Heat: Solariums can often get quite hot. While this can be particularly beneficial for those using the space as a greenhouse, it can sometimes be too hot to enjoy the view. You can mitigate this issue by installing a vent fan, allowing the hot air to filter out. You can also purchase retractable screens to block out some of the sun’s rays.
Price: Compared to other types of sunrooms, solariums are usually the priciest. This is partly due to the type of building materials and the cost of installation. If you’re looking for a less expensive alternative, consider a sunroom addition or a DIY sunroom kit.
Will a solarium or sunroom add value to my home?
With any home improvement project you take on, the ultimate goal is to increase the value of your home over time. Sunrooms only have a 97.2% sale-to-list ratio. This means that homes with sunrooms are not sold above list price and don’t necessarily increase the value of your home.* However, while solariums and sunrooms can be expensive, they may be the right investment for you if it meets your needs, day-to-day life, and aligns with your budget. Home trends are constantly changing, so what may increase your home value now may decrease it in the future and vice versa.
Is a solarium right for you?
No matter what home improvement project you decide to undertake, choosing the right one takes time and consideration. When deciding between a solarium and a sunroom, determine what’s most important to you and if it fits into your budget and lifestyle.
*Per home listing data on Redfin.com, as of March 2022.