Since our products are custom made to order, you may have some questions regarding your implementation. Browse through our most frequently asked questions and feel free to contact us if you have further questions.

General Questions

ShadeFX can be any size you like provided the pergola or frame is able to support it. The maximum unsupported drive beam span is 5 feet. The canopy can be up to 18 feet wide and any length up to about 24 feet. Extra large shade pergolas use more than one canopy to cover the entire area under the pergola.

We use Sunbrella brand awning fabrics for all water resistant canopies. Sunbrella awning fabrics are styled and designed to coordinate with Sunbrella furniture fabrics in mind. To find your best match to a Sunbrella furniture fabric and suggestions on coordinating Sunbrella patterns, visit the Sunbrella® Fabric Showroom.

For our Water Repellent canopies, we use Harbor Time fabrics. Water Repellent fabrics are limited to about 13 different solid colors.

ShadeFX™ is covered by 3 individual warranties. They are:
ShadeFX Warranty by ShadeFX Canopies: 12 years.
Water Resistant Fabric Warranty by Sunbrella: 10 years. See website for full details.
Water Repellent Fabric Warranty by Harbor Time: 5 years. See website for full details.
Motor Warranty by Somfy: 5 years. See website for full details.

Read more about ShadeFX warranties here.

There are a number of ways to test the service life of a mechanism in an accelerated fashion. Each canopy system we have on display at trade shows is considered to be in a life cycle test. During the display demonstrations we typically cycle the canopy a couple hundred times a day. At the end of the trade show season we have a number of canopies (small and large) that have been cycled thousands of times each. In this way we are confident of the design reliability. However these canopies are indoors and operate without the extremes of cold, wind loading, rain loading and the potential for interference from fallen branches etc.

There are a few ways we have designed to ensure outdoor reliability.

First, the drive mechanism can overpower the motor. So any forced stoppage due to a tree branch or kids with hockey sticks simply stalls the motor which will not be damaged.

Second, the components we use for the drive system come from food machinery conveyor equipment. These components are designed to run at 80% of their strength 100% of the time. Our canopies demand 60% of their strength only about 1% (at most) of the time.

Third and finally, the components themselves, motor, transmission, bearings belt, and pulleys, are exposed to extreme heat and cold and wash-down cycles in the food conveyor industry. There is no doubt these components are heavily overdesigned for use as a canopy drive, and based on that we take great pride in our outstanding durability and 12 year mechanism warranty.

Lots! Shade pergolas can project any distance from a wall or stand alone in the yard. Awnings need a wall and can only project about 13’ maximum from them. Shade pergolas are designed for wind and rain resistance. They protect the area underneath from even heavy rain downpours. Awnings are not designed to resist wind and are not recommended for rain resistance because the fabric may bulge with accumulated water rather than have it run off. This is because fabric tension is all that holding the awning fabric. A Shade pergola using a ShadeFX canopy is structurally supported by aluminum frame pieces we call ‘wings’.

ShadeFX offers arched wings as an option. Because we make all our canopies to order, we can also match the radius of your pergola’s arch. The easiest way to get that dimension is to get what we call ‘rise’. This is the difference between the height of the bottom of the rafters at the beam and the height of the bottom of the rafters in the middle. So if your rafters are 87” from the ground at the beams, and 95” off the ground at the middle, you have an 8” rise. The all we need is the wing width and we can match your pergola arch perfectly.

Topside canopies are required for two reasons. One is if the pergola has many items under it that would interfere with a canopy system if we mounted it. These are things like fans and lights. Talk to your product specialist to see if you need a topside to work with your pergola accessories. The second reason is if you want to cover an area that goes beyond the posts of the pergola. With a topside canopy, you can cover from the very ends of the rafters to the very ends of the beams. This can be 36% more coverage than an undermount canopy can provide on the same pergola.

Rope drive canopies are easy to operate up to about 170 sq-ft. Beyond that a motor drive is recommended and over 200 sq ft a rope drive is not available. A practical guide is that setting a 200 sq-ft canopy is best done with a pair of work gloves.

The maximum unsupported span for the drive beam is 10’ for a 12’ wide canopy. As the canopy gets wider, the maximum unsupported span gets shorter. The drive beam can span 36” unsupported for any width canopy provided it is properly mounted at each anchor point. See mounting options

The ShadeFX canopy system uses a patented monorail drive beam that supports the entire canopy in the middle. This naturally causes a high point in the middle, shedding rain left or right of the drive beam. The canopy can be tilted to direct water all to the left or all to the right but not to the front or back. This is because the canopy wings would act as dams on the fabric surface.

The standard canopy is water resistant. This means that light rain will not leak through for a number of days. In a hard rain, the water will mist through and ‘wick’ over about 24 hrs, developing drip points. All the canopy seams are welded so the water resistant canopies are entirely suitable for residential use and will protect family events from light rain. The waterproof fabric is a tighter and coated weave that will never leak or wick-through regardless of how hard the rain is. It is ideal for commercial applications where extended periods of rain have no effect on the canopy performance.

The ShadeFX canopy system uses aluminum frame parts, we call them wings, to support the canopy. When a canopy is extended it is fully supported by a frame of great strength. Other awning systems use fabric tension to support the canopy. This is a very weak but inexpensive way to make a sun shade. For this reason, most awnings cannot be left out in the wind or the rain.

ShadeFX canopies are not engineered to bear snow loads. In colder climates it is recommended that canopies be taken down and stored over the winter. This will prolong the life of the canopy fabric and also prevent any damages that may be caused from snow and ice. Simply dismount the canopy by removing the G-clips and store in a safe place. The drive beam and stabilizers do not need to be removed. DO NOT OPERATE IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES.

Permits are the domain of your local city or county law.

Wildlife can damage anything. However, when a ShadeFX canopy is retracted for the winter, it is free to move in the wind and does not become a snug place for a nest to be built. Regardless, you should be vigilant of any animal activity in our around your shade pergola.

The ShadeFX canopy will hold up to the elements and keep rich and even colour for about ten years before showing significant signs of aging. During that time the water resistant fabric may require an application of fabric treatment to maintain is water resistant performance. You need not worry about seam or thread degradation as all the seams are welded. Every canopy has its own serial number. So replacement is readily available at about 50% of the original purchase price.

Most ShadeFX canopies ship within 3 weeks of order receipt. Custom canopies (oversize or custom color powder-coat painted frames) ship in an average of 4 to 5 weeks.

Click here to view installation details.

Factory installation is required for topside canopies. Please contact us for an installation quote.

As a standard, our fabric is 2” narrower than the wing width. The fabric can be ordered even narrower to clear things like post caps and light fixtures that can mount to the inside of the posts or beams. That’s why our order form has two dimensions for width, One for the wings and one for the fabric.

This dimension is called the ‘canopy drop’ and it can be specified. As a standard, it will never exceed 22”. However if the hanging fabric will interfere with windows doors, or fixtures, the it can be reduced with the addition of more wings. The shortest canopy drop we have done was 11”. See it here

Our canopies are designed to be maintenance free. Reasonable care to remove accumulated dirt and debris is all that is required to get 10 or more years of enjoyment out of your ShadeFX canopy.

More than 50% of our cost could be eliminated with the selection of lower cost materials. This is especially true of the fabrics we use. However, to compromise would significantly reduce service life. We make ShadeFX to be an excellent value. When you look at its cost vs how long you will enjoy it, we think you’ll agree just like hundreds of customers before you: The satisfaction of buying quality is your best reward.