Anyone who spends any amount of time outside knows the struggle: trying to relax under the sun on a day that is both wonderfully sunny and incredibly windy. You don’t want to be burnt to a crisp but you also don’t want to be assaulted by heavy winds, either.
So, can you use a retractable awning to at least curb the wind? In this article, we’re about to dive head-first into the answer to that crucial question.
Retractable Awnings and Wind Speeds
Retractable awnings like these from Go Retractable are intended to protect homeowners from moisture, heat, and harmful UV sun rays. Since they weren’t designed to withstand strong winds, it’s safe to say that most awnings aren’t reliable in high-wind conditions.
Most available retractable awnings have undergone minimal testing in regard to how much wind they can handle with most only holding up against winds of 20mph. This modest rating means that they are not suitable for protection against large gusts and wind storms.
The Beaufort Scale
The Beaufort scale is a scale used to rank the strength of wind. Most awnings that are sold to the public are rated on this scale, which ranges from 0-10 with 10 being the most intense and 0 being completely calm. Some, however, slip by unrated and are the most likely to fail during a 12mph breeze — a 3 or “gentle breeze” on the Beaufort scale.
There are 4 classes of rated awnings. Class 0 (also known as unrated or rated for winds of 0-1mph, a Beaufort 0), Class 1 (Beaufort 3) rated for wind up to 12mph, Class 2 (Beaufort 5) for 24mph, and Class 3 (Beaufort 6) 31 mph.
Since wind is so unpredictable, the amount of wind that an awning can handle depends on how it’s built. Its size, the direction of the wind, and what it’s made from.
The Wind’s Effects on Retractable Awnings
A strong gust of wind or high wind speeds for extended periods of time can reak havoc on awnings. Not only can it cause damage to the material of the awning but it can actually cause them to rip right off and blow away, turning into a safety hazard and not just a minor inconvenience. The arms that hold the awnings aloft can also be bent and/or snapped.
This is most likely to happen when awnings aren’t retracted during periods of vicious wind. If your awning is unrated, however, this can happen on relatively calm days that just happen to have a small breeze or the occasional gentle gust.
Awnings Best Suited for High Wind Speeds
Although the best bit of advice we can give you is to fold up your awning before the storm rolls in, we understand that there isn’t always time. So, to prepare, we’d recommend investing in an awning that has a somewhat decent chance of surviving should it be left unretracted during a storm.
Awnings that fall into this category include those with high pitches, canopies, and stationary awnings.
In general, larger fabric awnings are more likely to make it through, too. This is because their covering is held fast to the frame on all four sides, with support posts holding up the front. These awnings are recommended because they allow the wind to escape through the sides, reducing the pressure put on the arms.
Motorized retractable awnings commonly use wind sensors to control their retraction. When the wind reaches a certain speed, the awning arms will automatically begin to retract.
Wind Sensor Benefits
As we said above, wind sensors are handy pieces of technology that monitor wind speed and retract automatically if the wind gets too rough.
There are a number of benefits of installing wind sensors.
One of the biggest benefits of wind sensors is their convenience. They aren’t convenient in the it-will-do-your-wash-while-you’re-at-work sort of way but it is convenient because it’s one less thing you have to worry about weather-proofing when the weather turns ugly.
Once a wind sensor is installed, you can rest assured that your awning will be retracted when it needs to be even if you aren’t home.
Wind sensors are a type of technology that boasts a long lifespan. They are reliable and can be used for years without needing to be replaced.
When it comes to versatility, there’s a wind sensor for almost every brand of awning. In fact, many brands will be compatible with a number of sensor brands, which gives you a ton of choice and freedom in which sensor you choose to install.
Retractable awnings can make enjoying the summer sun easier and even protect you from a light, unexpected rain. Against the wind, though, they are not the best protection.
Before you purchase an awning, you should always consider the general weather conditions in your area. If it is prone to sudden strong storms and high winds, be sure to get an awning that is more highly rated and avoid those that aren’t rated at all.
Opt to purchase an awning that is made of durable materials and that is attached on all sides if you’re worried. For a bit of extra assurance, consider installing a wid sensor to help control your motorized awning (if you have one). They make the process of retracting and extending your awnings quick and easy.