Lowcountry Storm Panels
Economical Polycarbonate Storm Panels for the DIY'er
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In the beginning........
The Gallina RDC material was tested and approved, by various governing bodies, for a "Direct Mount" type of installation. What that means is that the panels were tested without any type of metal channels being used to attach them to the surface of the structure. Only threaded anchors, spaced in accordance with the manufacturers suggestion (14" apart along the long edge and 18" apart along the short edge), were used to attach the material to the structure. When I did my own installation I did not use any type of metal "channels" (primarily because none existed at the time). After I started selling the material I began to get a LOT of requests for some type of aluminum channel that could be used to ease the installation or the mounting process. The reason I use these two terms is that there are two distinct operations involved in the usage of this type of product. The first is the "Installation" operation. It involves the installation of the anchors (and/or) aluminum channels that will become a permanent part of the structure and will be used when it is eventually time to "Mount" the panels. The installation process is the most time-consuming (and sometimes tedious) because it involves drilling holes and screwing the anchors into the home around all of the openings to be protected. This process also involves drilling the holes in the panels themselves and temporarily mounting the panels to make sure the holes all line up properly with the anchors. The "Mounting" operation is done when advised of an approaching storm and is the quick process of putting the panels in place and threading in the 1" sidewalk bolts used to hold the panels to the anchors.
After an exhaustive search of all aluminum suppliers that I could locate, it became obvious that the channels needed to adequately satisfy these inquiries just simply didn't exist. If I was going to be able to offer this type of product I would have to "invent" it myself. Accordingly, I designed the two channels we now offer and had custom-made dies created, at considerable cost, for the extrusion process. The capital "H" extrusion is .085" (roughly 1/12 of an inch thick) hardened (6063/T5) aluminum and can be used as an aid when it is necessary to cover a wide span. It features dual opposing slots (or channels) into which panels can be inserted (see the Photos and Videos page for the engineering drawings of this product). Typically this type of channel is installed in an up and down orientation and is anchored securely to the structure by way of one anchor at the top and one anchor at the bottom. In the case of a sliding glass door it is sometimes necessary to utilize some type of steel "L" bracket (available at any decent hardware store) to accomplish the lower attachment. The capital "H" channel would typically not be left up year-round, but would normally be installed as part of the "Mounting" process. The lower-case "h" channel is also hardened (6063/T5) aluminum and is .080" thick (see the Photos and Videos page for the engineering drawings for this product). This channel would typically be installed at the top of the opening (or the bottom, or both) and would often be left up year-round. When the time comes for the "Mounting" process the panel can be slid in from below or from the sides. (Note that it is STILL necessary for anchors to be utilized along whatever edges not utilizing the "h" channels.) Neither of these aluminum channels have undergone any type of formal approval process by any governing body due to the high costs involved. (It is my understanding that it costs upwards of $5000 for a supplier to have his product added to the list of "approved" products under the Florida approval body.) The channels have undergone a brief test in a laboratory environment and showed no signs of bending or bowing over their entire eight foot length. Where, when using only the direct attachment method, it is usual to space the anchors every 18" along the top or bottom edge, it is my opinion that, when using the "h" channels a spacing of between 22-24" would yield the same effective holding power. Again, this is strictly my opinion and if the purchaser wants to play it safe it would be best to go with the 18" spacing. Finally, both of these channels are offered in 8' lengths (only) and are available in either a "mill" finish (shiny, but with ocassional blemishes) or powder-coated white versions.
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