Fiberglass - The Standard of Wind Resistant Patio Umbrellas
Aluminum and Wood Construction in patio umbrellas have been around for years. But one of the most common problems with either have been breakage. Why? Like any rigid material, both aluminum and wood have a breaking point, a point where stress on the material causes it to fail. Most aluminum and wood umbrellas are strong enough to withstand most uses, even in windy situations. However, most of the wind resistance of standard construction patio umbrella comes from the design of the wind vent. The more air that can pass through an umbrella without altering it's shape of balance, the better an umbrella fairs.
The problem is the mechanics of wind. It doesn't always come at a particular angle or speed. In fact, it hardly ever does. Wind circulates and moves around an object, forced by currents much like water. One down swell of wind will catch an umbrella cover and push it down or up, leaving it exposed to higher gusts of wind. Here is were we can get into a little bit of trouble. Now that the canopy ribs are at an angle that puts more stress on it, the more likely it will either topple or break at the weakest point of stress. Toppling over is what usually does it.
Let me assure though, that most aluminum and wood construction umbrellas are engineered specifically for day to day use. But, wind resistant patio umbrellas made with fiberglass ribs are a different story altogether.
Fiberglass is basically silica based "fibers of glass" that have been used in composite construction; for instance, Olympic Bows are usually made of composite fiberglass. Known for a multitude of properties, fiberglass is both strong AND flexible. Umbrella ribs made of fiberglass are both rust and corrosion resistant, and allow the ribs to flex and bow in the wind. In other words, where aluminum or wood reaches it's breaking point in strong winds, the fiberglass rib actually flexes past that point, bending in the wind like a reed.
But if the Patio Umbrella ribs are just going to flap around, how are they break resistant?
Since the ribs of a fiberglass built umbrella flex and turn and bend, wind hitting the umbrella will push and pull the canopy in different directions, but won't hurt the rib. The wind flows over and through the umbrella without hurting it. And if the umbrella actually happens to fall, the umbrella ribs will just flex as it hits the ground. No breaking, no snapping, just bending. The fiberglass ribs snap back to their original straight position, stretching the canopy out to where it should be, shading YOU!
The University of Miami did a study that found that fiberglass ribbed umbrellas could resist winds between 45 and 50 miles per hour - tropical storm winds!
For more info, check out Spotlight: Wind Resistant Umbrellas