How heavy are brise soleil systems?

Just because the gaps between blades are as much part of the design as the blades themselves, it doesn’t mean that brise soleil systems are lightweight.

In a nutshell: 

  • The weight of brise soleil depends on system size, design and materials
  • Knowing the weight is important to ensure support structures, brackets and fixings are strong enough
  • Loads placed upon brise soleil by wind, snow and ice build-up needs to be known too
  • Aluminium is a lightweight material but supports and fixings are made from heavier steel
  • Timber is heavier, but weight varies between species
  • Talk about weight and loadings with a brise soleil specialist

Nor does it matter that the majority of brise soleil systems are made from lightweight aluminium. In reality, depending on their size and design, brise soleil systems can be very heavy indeed.

So, how heavy? And why is it important to know? For the first answer, we’ll have to stick with our old favourite for the moment: it depends? As for why, it’s simply because architects, engineers and brise soleil specialists need to ensure support structures, brackets and fixings are strong enough.

And it’s not just the dead weight of the system, but also the loads placed upon them by wind, snow and ice build-up. Brise soleil specialists will use desktop simulation and finite element analysis to calculate loads accurately.

As for how heavy... yes, aluminium is relatively lightweight. But support structures, sidearms, brackets and fixings are usually made from much heavier steel. Despite advances in woodgrain-effect powder-coating, timber is still popular. And heavy. Even western red cedar, which is one of the least dense species, is around 350kg per cubic metre.

Ultimately, the important thing is to ask the question, rather than assume that because many brise soleil systems look lightweight, they are lightweight. The implication of getting it wrong can be very serious indeed, so it’s always best to consult with a brise soleil specialist from Day One.

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