When a shade system is being used outdoors it is important that it be as resistant as possible to wind and weather. The Draper FlexShade ZIP is often used to protect outdoor spaces from wind and insects. Its wind resistance comes from extruded aluminum side channels that incorporate plastic inner channels. Cushioning pads dampen fabric movement, and “zip” details attached to the fabric’s edges keep it in place.
“We wanted to understand the limits of our product better,” said Clint Childress, Director of Residential Markets for Draper. “With exterior shading, end users and designers want to know the performance in the elements. The testing helps us know the limits and communicate that to potential customers.”
At first Draper had some trouble finding a suitable location. Either the testing facilities didn’t generate high enough wind speeds or used a closed system that led to fears of damage from flying debris. Finally, Draper found Florida International University’s (FIU) Wall of Wind (WOW), an open jet wind tunnel with an excellent reputation. The FIU Wall of Wind can generate wind speeds of 150 mph at 10.5 feet above the ground.
The test shades were mounted to a metal support structure custom-built of 3” x 3” square steel tubing. Two different sizes of frames were provided to accommodate three different shade sizes.
The three sizes of FlexShade ZIP and FlexShade ZIP XL tested were (width x height) 79-3/8″ x 56-13/16″, 100″ x 71-1/2″, and 126″ x 90″. For each size, fabrics with three different openness factors were used: Soltis B92, which is an opaque blackout fabric, and 3% and 10% Mermet E screen.
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According to the test report from FIU, “The WOW was configured to produce a wind profile representative of Open Terrain Exposure (ASCE 7 Exposure Category C).” That essentially means wind that would be experienced in flat, open ground with few obstructions.
Ten tests were conducted with the wind flowing perpendicular to the front of the shade and one with the flow perpendicular to the back side of the shade. The exterior shades were all in the fully down position (rolled down to cover the entire opening that they are meant to enclose).
Testing started at low speeds and wind was increased at 5 mph increments. Each wind speed was held constant for one minute before being increased to the next level. This process was repeated for each shade until the unit or one of its components flew off, or until maximum wind speed was reached.
Based on our examination of the data from the tests, we are confident in the FlexShade ZIP’s ability to withstand high wind speeds when deployed and properly installed, although flying debris can cause damage.
For the best results, outdoor shades must be properly installed. Draper provides system drawings and installation instructions to help achieve the best results.
To learn more about outdoor living products from Draper, click here.
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