Why Should Shade Sails Have Height Variation?

About This Video

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Video Transcription

Hey, Brad at Tenshon here.

In this video we’re talking about height variation. What is it, why do you want it and how do you get it?

Height variation refers to the height of the mounting points of a sail. When the corner mounting points are at different heights, we say there is height variation. If all the mounting points are at the same level, there will be no height variation and the sail will be flat and level.

Let’s explore this with this cardboard triangle.

Here it is with no height variation. It’s flat and level because all the corners are at the same height. If two corners were the same height and one is lower, it would look like this. If it had two low corners it would look like this, or lastly, all three corners could be different heights and it would look like this.

Height variation is good because it allows rainwater to shed off the sail, instead of pulling in the middle.

Now let’s look at a square sail.

Here is what it looks like with no height variation, it’s flat and level. Here’s what it looks like with two high corners next to each other. The sail is no longer level, which is good because it allows rainwater to shed off, but, there’s a better way to vary the corner heights.

Instead of putting high corners next to each other, position them so they are opposite. If two opposing corners are high and two opposing corners are low, it would look like this.

Notice the unique shape that’s created, this shape is ideal. It allows water to shed off, and the sum of the opposing forces creates tension in the sail. This suspends the centre and prevents sagging. It also prevents the sail from catching wind or flapping in it.

So how much height variation is best?

Our rule of thumb is to aim for a height variation of 1 to 5, that is, 1 foot of height variation for every 5 feet of span. This is the reasoning behind our 7 foot and 10 foot standard poles. Take an SS15, the approximate 15 foot span calls for 3 feet of height variation. Even with sails with more than 4 sides, there can be height variation.

Here is a five-sided sail with two high points and three low points.

Here is a six-sided sail with two high points and four low points.

Well that does it for this video, let us know if you have any questions and we’ll see you next time.