Exterior UV Shades – Wire Guides


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If you are looking to stop glare, heat and UV damage all at the push of a button, then look no further.  Tropical J’s Wire Guided Vertical shade system is your long term solution.  Available in motorized or crank operations, the wire guide system deploys easily and is our best product in combating heat transfer and glare for buildings or outdoor spaces.  These systems are great because they have predetermined stops, but can also be raised or lowered to any intermediate height.  We can manufacture this product with almost any fabric, and in mesh fabrics we offer densities ranging from 70%-97%.  As pictured above, meshes block the sun while maintaining you view.  If you are looking for a wind break, you should explore our Rope and Pulley system.

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Function:  Wire Guides have many uses, but their primary use is to stop glare and control heat transfer into buildings.  The two diagrams below show what happens when heat, UV, and glare strike your home.

Here you can see sunlight hitting an exposed window.  The window reflects some light, but the majority of heat passes through.  The window glass itself heats up and radiates heat into the building.  In this instance the homeowner is always trying to battle heat, whether it is with AC units to combat the heat transfer or with fans that simply blow the hot air around.

Here is an example with a wire guide screen installed on the outside of the building.  Now, sunlight and heat is stopped before it even reaches the glass.  The shade still reflects some light and depending on the density of the fabric will only let 3-20% of the heat, and UV through.  Most of the heat that makes it through the fabric is dispersed by the air or wind that exists between the shade and the glass.  The window itself will stop some transference of heat allowing only a small amount of heat to enter the building.

This concept is so successful that we have installed these shades on the sides of homes with single wall construction that don’t even have any windows to cover in order to stop excessive heat from penetrating into the home.

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Sizes – Widths: A Tropical J’s wire guide shade can go 18 feet wide by 8 feet tall in one single panel.  Once we pass 18 feet in width, the tube begins to sag under the weight and wrinkles occur in the fabric.  As the widths decrease, the height can increase because it’s all based on weight.  If a span greater than 18 feet is desired, we can achieve this by either installing two curtains or by installing a bracket in the middle and have one system with two tubes of fabric.  Either way there will be a gap wherever we determine to put the split, but one 36′ split curtain can be operated by a single motor.  The split opening is about 3″ wide.

Sizes – Drops: These curtains are most successful for 2-12 foot drop range.  Depending on the fabric, seams may be required.  Most of our mesh fabrics are seamless for up to 8′ drops.  Your salesman will help you with your best options.

Wall mount vs. Ceiling Mount

Wall Mount:  Wall mounted systems have two fabric orientations, fabric coming off the roll towards the building (inside roll), and fabric coming off the roll away from the building (outside roll).  The roll of the fabric determines the guide wire placement.  For inside roll, the guide wire  will be 1″ away from the mounting plane while outside roll kicks the wire out 3-1/2″.

Ceiling Mount:  In a ceiling mounted system, you still have a choice of which side of the tube you want the fabric coming off of.  Again, this side determines guide wire placement.


System:  Two brackets support a roller tube that has fabric rolled onto it.  The tube is connected to the bracket on end by a control component.  This can either be a eye to receive a hand crank, or a Somfy tubular motor.  On the other end, the tube is fit to a pin that spins freely.  When you rotate the tube in one direction it deploys the fabric.  The fabric has a pocket manufactured into the bottom hem, and in that bottom sits a weighted stainless steel pipe.  On either end of the pipe is a component that has a 1″ hole in it.  Through this hole, a wire is run from the mounting bracket at the top to hardware at the bottom.  After we put tension on the wire, it keeps the fabric from blowing in and out.  The hardware at the bottom will determine how low the system can deploy.

Bracket Hardware:  We use Hillman stainless steel fasteners to attach the brackets to the building.  We normally use 3/8″ Stainless Steel lag screws directly into framing elements or with expansion anchors to attach the brackets.  The brackets need to have solid attachment or else they can fail when put under load.

Wire Hardware:  The wire is attached to the bracket.  Directly under that point we attach hardware that tensions the wire.  We have several different options depending on the scenario.  Each option allows the curtain to only go down so far.  The picture below illustrates the most common attachment types.

NOTE: We do not normally drill through custom tile or stone.  

Hoods:   Protect your investment!  If a wire guide system cannot be installed under your eave and is exposed to the elements, UV will prematurely deteriorate the exposed portion of fabric.  Birds also like to perch on fabric.  An aluminum powder coated hood with side brackets is available in several colors. Download the color chart here or from the downloads section of this page.

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Crank Operation:  Our base model of wire guides is controlled with a hand crank.  These hand cranks are available in 57″ 65″ and 77″ lengths.

Motorized Operation:  For an up-charge we can install each shade with its own Somfy Wireless motor. The motors are controlled via a hand remote or a wall switch.  Both types of controls are wireless and communicate via radio signal for good connectivity for up to 30-50 ft.  For greater distances, a signal booster can be connected.  The motors are set by the installers at the time of installation.  The installer will program the motors so that they do not go up past a certain point and do not go down past a certain point. The curtain will then travel continuously until it hits that predetermined point and stop on its own.  At any point along the way, you can stop the curtain.  These motors carry a 5 year warranty and we routinely see these in service for 10+ years.

Motor Remotes:  There are two types of remotes.  A handheld (Tells 1 or Tellis 5 shown on the left) and a wall mount (Decoflex 1 through 5 shown on the right).   On any channel you can control up to 25 different motors at the same time.  Each channel can be programmed uniquely.  You can determine your configuration before install with your salesman or with our installation professionals at time of install.  Multiple remotes can be programmed to the same installation.

Battery Replacement:  If your remote stops controlling your motor, the first thing to check is the battery.  The lights on the remotes light up when you depress the controls.  If these lights DO NOT  light up, a fresh battery should be installed before we schedule a service call.  These batteries are avaialable at most photo centers in places such as Longs Drugs or Walmart.  The run anywhere from $8-$13.  The battery is determined by the type of remote.

Decoflex wallswitches uses uses a Lithium coin battery #CR2450

Tellis 1 or 4 hand remotes uses a Lithium coin battery #CR2430


Motorized Accersories:  Because the motors are wireless, you can add on accessories that control the curtain automatically.  A sun sensor will send a signal to deploy the curtain as soon as it receives sunlight that heats up the sensor for a few minutes.  Put this below the window and the curtains will automatically deploy before the sun has a chance to enter the house.  Timers are also available.

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Fabrics:  These curtains are most successful with mesh fabrics.  Mesh fabrics maintain views and let some air through.  Mesh fabrics can come in rolls as tall as 8 ft so you can get seamless viewing planes for most drops under 7’6″.  In the occasion that we do need to manufacture your shade from more than 1 piece of fabric, we will discuss where to put that seam as to be least noticeable.  Vertical seams are not recommended.  In the picture above, the fabric seam was designed to fall behind the handrail when down.  Your salesperson will help specify these options.

Meshes – Textilene – For heat and glare protection while maintaining your view, Tropical J’s primarily uses Textilene meshes in 80% or 90%.  The percentage describes how tight the weave is and how much light/UV it blocks.  Each percentage is available in 6 colors.

When choosing a color, note that the darker colors will allow you to see more detail.  The darker the color, the greater the contrast which in turn provides the clearest views.  Also, please be aware that if mesh fabrics are installed on the outside of windows that have mesh window screens, looking through these two mesh fabrics can cause a visual distortion.  The warranty for this fabric collection is 10 years.  See .PDF for more info.

Acrylics –  Sunbrella  – Sunbrella’s marine grade awning fabrics work great for these systems.  These fabrics will block 100% of the view and airflow but will provide more privacy with better protection from rain and UV than a mesh fabric.  They are available in a large variety of colors, and also stripes, and generally have a high end residential look and feel.

These shades are sewn with Tenara  thread.  The pro-rated warranty for this Sunbrella fabric collection is 10 years; 8 years inclusive while the last 2 years are prorated.  See .PDF for more info.

Specialty Fabrics – We can manufacture with Phifertex’s collection of specialty fabrics. Their yearly collections include wicker weaves, colorful patterns and solid colors.  The fabrics all have unique pricing. See your salesperson for more information.

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Installation:  We offer complete installation, takedown and disposal services.  Tropical J’s professional installation crews can install most projects in one day.  We need firm attachment points; your salesman will help you determine the sites mounting options.  If electricity is required, coordination of  all electrical work prior to installation is recommended.  We do not offer electrical contracting, but have several references if needed.  Your salesman will work out the particulars of your unique situation.

Our salesman will collect the information that our professional installation team will use to install your products.   Most installations usually take 1 -3 days.  We install into structural elements in your building using Hillman stainless steel fasteners.  Our most common fastener attachments types are expansion anchors, self drilling/tapping screws, toggle bolts, and epoxy set all-thread.  Each installation is unique in it’s attachment but there are some common elements to consider so our salesman may price out installation accordingly.

Insurance:  Tropical J’s is a licensed, bonded and insured company, but if you need additional insurance there may be an up charge for that.

Vehicle Access:  Our work fleet consists of vans and flatbed with vehicle heights of 6′ 8″.  If they do not have access to on site contractor parking,  please work with our salesman to determine the nearest parking.

Hours of Operation:  Jobs are quoted out during our regular scheduled working hours which are 7:00-3:30.  If you require installation outside these hours, there may be overtime charges.

Power:  Most installations require the use of one electrical outlet during the course of installation.  Please help our salesman establish the nearest one.

Bathrooms:  In the event that there is a restroom available please inform our salesman.



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