Shade Canopy Fabrics: The Details of Sun Protection

I made the mistake of driving around with my sunroof open the other day. The beautiful weather is finally upon us and the temptation was too great to feel the wind in my hair (or what’s left of it anyway)…  When I got home I was reminded of the power of the sun these days. I had a burn that probably won’t peel, but the tan was too dark after about only an hour of driving.

Up until now, ShadeFX Canopies has been in the “shade business.” A radio announcement of ultra-high UV index warning in early May in combination with my sunburn has influenced our shift into the “sun protection business.”

Making the most of your outdoor living space includes protecting it from UV

Understanding the SPF or sun protection factor of your shade canopy fabrics will help you make the best decisions for your shaded outdoor living area. It turns out there are also other factors to be aware of when it comes to sun protection.

For information specific to UV protection, please see:

Sun Protection from Shade Canopy Fabrics

Sunbrella (used by ShadeFX) now has sun protection specifications for its awning and shade canopy fabrics. You would think that being behind a fabric that is ‘solid’ would protect 100%, but the reality is there is a portion of UV and other components of the energy from the sun that penetrates the fabric.

Click on image to enlarge.

  • Light Transmittance: The amount of sunlight that passes through the shade canopy fabric.
  • Solar Transmittance: The amount of solar energy in the full solar wavelength range that is allowed to pass through the shade canopy fabric. This will be felt as heat.
  • UV Transmittance: The amount of ultra violet energy that is allowed to pass through the shade canopy fabric.

Although we don’t have official numbers for our Harbor Time fabrics, we did talk with the supplier and manufacturer and were told that because it is a coated fabric with no ‘permeability of weave’ the SPF would be 100. We can’t speculate on the other specifications for Harbor Time.

I hope this information helps you better understand the protection that our outdoor canopy fabrics provide from the sun. If these commercial awning fabrics have these specifications, I can’t imagine how much solar energy actually penetrates a standard non-awning fabric.