The only features that tension structures share with conventional sun canopies is that both are free standing (i.e. stand alone) and are permanent. Here are the advantages of cable-tensioned structures. (This comparison ignores temporary, “pop-up” canopies. which serve entirely-different market needs).
a. Cable-tensioned structures can have greater distances between columns (i.e. clearspan). This enables them to have fewer obstructions and cost less. For example, we did a hip-roof canopy project in Oakland, CA where a single fabric measures 67’x36′ for a total covering of 2,412 square feet. It has only (6) columns, which averages 402 square feet per column. This structure is 1/2 mile from the San Francisco Bay, where building code requires it withstand 85 MPH 3-second wind gusts.
b. Tensioned shade cloth structures don’t need horizontal beams, unless they’re cantilevered. Trusses are also unnecessary. This too enables them to cost less.
c. Tension structures can be cantilevered, whereas traditional canopies cannot because their aluminum poles and frames aren’t strong enough. Being structural steel, we routinely project tension structures 18′ out from their columns in parking lots. Greater distances are possible.
d. Conventional canopy roofs are typically impermeable fabric, metal, fiberglass or wood. These trap hot air inside the structure, whereas the mesh fabrics on tension structures lower air temperature as hot air rises between woven yarns.
e. The maintenance costs of tension structures are less because they don’t rot or mildew. HDPE yarns don’t absorb water.
f. Shade sails win the prize when it comes to aesthetic appeal. Dramatic height variations; fabric “warping” ; overlapping; multiple polygon shapes & colors; & the interesting curves (both fabrics and their shadows) are just some of the visual advantages that enhance landscape appeal.