Once constructed, the reliability of a building shade system shouldn’t be something to worry about. But if your building shade system is made with components and aren’t load-rated, you won’t know how much weight or pressure your system can take before it fails.
This brief overview of rated loads and non-rated loads will help you understand the importance of using load-rated products, and when it’s feasible to use products that are not load rated.
Load testing (not to be confused with software load testing) is a form of hardware performance testing can can be conducted any type of hardware that carries weight or must resist pressure. It’s a form of resistance testing that determines how well a system or piece of hardware can perform under peak conditions, and can also be used to determine the completed system’s limits. Obviously, one cannot build a shade system then exert it to an increasing load until it breaks only to build it again. The best course of action is to use equipment designed and rated to the expected loads. Keep in mind however that the system is only as strong as the weakest link.
For example, if the shade system is designed to withstand high wind conditions, you should use product that will withstand the loads of the shade system under these conditions.
Having this knowledge can be valuable, as it could be that high-performance shading systems sell particularly well in high-wind areas. Once you have this data, it can be provided to your customers to help them make a buying decision and to differentiate your product from lower cost alternatives.
Hardware is often tested and labeled with a load rating to help people determine how best to use them. This load rating can typically be found on a nameplate, if the product has one, or through the manufacturer.
Nonetheless, not all hardware is load rated. Here’s what you need to know about the difference.
A “rated load” is the maximum load a piece of hardware is specifically designed to carry. For all of Ronstan’s equipment, we list a breaking load and a max working load. The breaking load is the expected load at which the product will fail. The max working load is the maximum load the product will perform at without any damage to the product.
In the case of a pulley that might be used as part of a shade system or shade structure, it’s usually best to use one that is load rated.
A piece of hardware that is not load rated means that it isn’t designed to carry up to a specific load. In the case of block and tackle systems and pulleys, this means the piece of hardware hasn’t been tested to see how much weight it can carry before it ceases to function properly or break.
Non-rated components aren't necessarily useless, although they may not be the best choice of hardware for your building shading system. Non load rated product is typically lower cost, but less safe for applications where customer satisfaction and safety are of concern.