Calculating the ideal installation

Shane Jerram, Operations Director at Able Canopies discusses the importance of site-specific calculations to ensure each canopy meets all the relevant performance and safety standards.  

There are a range of canopy products on the market to upgrade outdoor spaces into usable, safe areas in all weather conditions. The requirements for each job can vary depending on the end user needs – and to ensure the most suitable solution is installed, the specific site and potential weather conditions should always be assessed. The footprint and camber of the site and the materials of the existing building will all have an influence on the design and fixing of the canopy.

These factors will have an impact on the structural integrity of the canopy and will always be assessed at the survey stage. The canopy itself is made up of several different extruded and preformed profiles which are designed and tested to ensure structural strength is maintained throughout the life of the structure. The configuration and setting out of these components is decided only when a set of site specific calculations are undertaken, this is because different areas of the country will be subject to higher/lower wind and snow loadings, specific to the location.

Size does matter
Firstly, the height, span and projection of the canopy will need to be considered to make sure it suits the clients’ requirements. These will all influence the proposed solution and ultimately the canopy’s end usability. It is crucial to always ensure that during the design stage to try to maintain the largest useable footprint possible, i.e. by minimising post positions, resulting in less posts and more useable space.

A strong foundation
A canopy’s foundations are vital to its structural stability as mentioned above with the member sizes. All canopy foundations should be individually assessed to make sure they provide adequate anchoring – for example, a canopy in a higher, more exposed location would require larger foundations to cope with the increased wind loads that such an environment would create.

The perfect fix
Once the size of the installation has been agreed and the foundations checked, the correct fixing bracket will be required to ensure the canopy can be fixed to an existing building in a way that ensures a strong join. If access to strong structures such as steel beams or solid brick work is not possible, then a bespoke fixing will be designed. This will need to have its own set of calculations to ensure it can take the loads that will be placed on it, and that it will safely and securely keep the canopy in place. 

Whatever the weather
A lot of the calculations completed externally will be relating to the weather – after all, the canopy is upgrading an outdoor space that requires shelter from the elements. In the UK, there is an average of 133 days of rain and snowfall per year, so this will need to be considered to ensure the canopy is able to cope. 

Showing what they’re made of
The material used will of course come into consideration. Timber will have a different weight to aluminium, for example, and will require different maintenance and calculations to ensure it is suitable for end use. 

Unique additions
Many end users are keen to take advantage of unique elements that can be added to the canopies – such as solar panels to transform them into solar canopies, so they can generate their own energy. Understandably, these additions will require different calculations, as it will change the weight of the roof system.

When these complexities occur, the required calculations will need to be produced to meet the demands of the site and ensure safety for all users.

An example of this is the installation at Bournemouth University by Able Canopies. The two bus shelters brought together several the variables mentioned above – the addition of solar panels, unique finishes to the ends of the canopies, an exposed position to the weather, and the use of steel on a large scale.

The calculations for this installation alone ran to over 90 pages, which shows the level of detail required to ensure that a unique installation of this type is safe and will be able to withstand extreme conditions such as strong winds and large snowfalls.

Upgrading outdoor space into a usable, sheltered area provides a host of benefits for all kinds of applications. It is crucial that site specific calculations are carried out and thoroughly checked to ensure the end installation is fit for purpose and meets all safety requirements.

Able Canopies Ltd. design, manufacture and install commercial grade canopies, shade sails,
awnings and shelters across the UK. We specialise in servicing the education, leisure,
healthcare and retail sectors and have extensive experience working with architects
and contracting firms on small and large projects.
For more information or to find out how to submit a tender please contact us

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Christine

Marketing Assistant Manager at Able Canopies Ltd
Christine is Able Canopies' Marketing Assistant Manager and is an advocate of outdoor learning. She is a big fan of fundraising and is always looking for fresh fundraising and outdoor learning ideas to share.

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