Clear vs. Aluminum Hurricane Panels: Which One Should You Choose?

As someone living in an area where hurricanes are a constant threat, you know that protecting your home from high-speed winds and flying debris is crucial. The most cost effective (rated and code compliant) way to do so is by installing hurricane panels on your windows and doors. In this comprehensive guide comparing clear and aluminum hurricane panels, we’ll explore the differences between these two popular options to help you make an informed decision for your home. Please also visit our FAQ to see other questions about why you need shutters and help determining what you may need. Of course, the team here at American Hurricane will help determine the specifics prior to ordering, but this allows you to be prepared and get an idea of the configuration of your final system.

What Are Hurricane Panels?

Hurricane panels are a type of protective covering that homeowners can install on their windows and doors to help prevent damage during severe storms. Clear hurricane panels, typically made from polycarbonate, allow natural light into the house while still protecting against high winds and flying debris. Aluminum hurricane panels, on the other hand, are more durable than clear panels but do not allow any natural light into the home. Both types of hurricane panels provide effective protection for homes in areas prone to hurricanes or tropical storms. These panels can often be installed where other systems cannot due to the architectural elements. However due to the time and effort to put them up (10x the time), we suggest keeping the amount of panels on a home to a minimum when possible.

Cost Comparison

Clear and aluminum hurricane panels are two popular choices for protecting homes and businesses during a storm. In terms of cost, clear panels tend to be more expensive than their aluminum counterparts. 

Ease of Installation

Installation of clear and aluminum hurricane panels is a straightforward process that requires a lot of physical effort when a storm is on the way. Clear hurricane panels are lighter weight but still require a longer time to install vs. permanently mounted shutters such as accordions or rolldowns

Durability and Strength

When it comes to durability and strength, both clear and aluminum hurricane shutter panels offer unique advantages. Clear panels have the advantage of being impact-resistant, providing a protective barrier without blocking natural light. On the other hand, aluminum panels are more durable than their plastic counterparts and can withstand harsh weather conditions such as high winds or hailstorms. Ultimately, choosing between clear or aluminum hurricane panels depends on your specific needs and circumstances.

Clear Hurricane Panels

When it comes to protecting your home from severe weather conditions, clear hurricane panels are a popular option due to their transparency and impact resistance. Here are some key points you should know about clear hurricane panels:

  • Impact Resistance: Clear hurricane panels offer excellent protection against high winds, flying debris, and other impacts caused by hurricanes or storms.
  • Lightweight: Clear panels are lighter weight than aluminum, however are still obviously heavier than other permanently mounted shutters, as you have to pick them up, rather than just move a shutter where the weight is held by the wall.
  • UV Protection: Most clear hurricane panels come with a special coating that protects them from harmful UV rays. This means they won’t yellow or fade over time due to sun exposure. However we would suggest storing these hurricane shutters out of the sunlight, to protect them further.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Clear hurricane panels require minimal maintenance compared to other types of storm protection systems. Simply clean them with soap and water as needed.

Overall, if you’re looking for an effective yet low-maintenance solution for protecting your home during a hurricane or storm, consider investing in clear hurricane panels.

Aluminum Hurricane Panels

Corrosion resistance is a crucial factor to consider when choosing metal panels. Aluminum hurricane panels are an excellent choice because they have exceptional corrosion resistance, making them ideal for coastal areas. This is in stark contrast to steel panels, which used to be the standard but can corrode or rust and are many times the weight- with no cost savings. Additionally, aluminum can withstand extreme weather conditions and heavy winds- with the only aparrent weathering occurring if you leave them outside. This can cause a small aluminum oxide (white colored) layer to appear on the outside of the panel material- however this is not a corrosion issue and will not compromise the integrity of the shutter. 

Design flexibility is another advantage of using aluminum hurricane panels. These types of storm shutters come in different sizes ; hence customers have the option to choose from different styles that will match their homes’ architectural design including curves and openings without base plates. The header and sill are very difficult to see, which allows the shutter system to blend into the home when not deployed. Additionally, they are compact to store since they can be stacked on top of each other when not in use.

  • Exceptional corrosion resistance
  • Easy installation process
  • Design flexibility
  • Strong

Maintenance and Longevity

When it comes to maintenance and longevity, both are fantastic options since they have no moving parts and will not require maintenance in mosts cases. Cleaning the tracks will ensure they do not flake or look unappealing. Check out our maintenance guide to see the maintenance required for panels vs. the other styles of shutters. 

Drawbacks

While there are a lot of benefits to using hurricane panels, it’s important to note that there are also some drawbacks to consider before making a purchase.

1. Obstruction of View: While clear hurricane panels are transparent, when deployed during a storm they can still obstruct your view of the outside world. This may not be a problem for some homeowners, but if you enjoy a clear view of your surroundings, it’s something to keep in mind. Aluminum will have no visibility during a storm. However this is akin to other shutter products, when not in use, the view is unobstructed.

2. Installation: Regardless of the type of panel you choose, installation will be a time consuming and physical process. Hauling the panels to the window, pushing them into the tracks, and securing them adds up quickly. Furthermore, aluminum panels are sharp and often are coated with a machine oil to start, so we would suggest wearing gloves during install to ensure you do not get harmed. Also you may need to use a ladder to install some or most of the openings.

3. Storage Space: When not in use, hurricane panels can take up a lot of space in your home or garage, especially if you have a large number of panels. While the stack will not be high, if you have tall openings the stack will be very long.

4. Security: We would not suggest using these for security since they are usually retained in one or more locations with wing nuts that can be unscrewed from the outside. While the appearance of the hurricane shutters may cause criminals to go to other homes/businesses, we have far better security solutions if that is what you are aiming for.

Pros

1. Cost: Hurricane panels are very affordable vs. the other shutter styles, especially if you opt for high-end ones such as Bahamas or colonials. While those shutters are a worthwhile investment that will increase both the aesthetics/security of your home, the upfront cost may be a barrier for some homeowners.

2. Aesthetics: Panels are our least obvious shutters on the home when not installed, so many customers enjoy the minimalist styling vs. accordions or rolldowns. While there are options available that match the style of your home (Bahamas/Colonials), it’s still something to consider.

3. Strength: Aluminum and clear panels meet the same impact and pressure codes as other shutters, and therefore will protect your home in the event of a hurricane, tropical storm, or other weather event. However, you most likely will not be protected from storm damage if you have little response time due to the time it takes to deploy them.

4. Wind Driven Rain: As a mechanical barrier in front of your windows, all of our shutters will help deflect wind driven rain away from your window seams. During a hurricane or tropical storm, the pressure from the wind or atmosphere can push water in around the seams of your window. Impact windows and others are not guaranteed to protect from this type of water intrusion. However, while our shutters have no separate accreditation, a study from Florida International University proved that accordions and other styles greatly reduce the rain impacting the window(up to nearly 90%)- which would reduce the chance for water interaction past your aluminum or clear panels. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, while hurricane panels may not offer the same level of convenience and ease of use as other shutter styles, they are a cost-effective and aesthetically minimalist option that still provides the necessary strength and protection for your home during a storm. However, it is important to note that installation and storage can be time-consuming and physically demanding, and they may not be the best option for security purposes. Overall, when properly installed and maintained, hurricane panels can be a reliable and affordable choice for homeowners looking to protect their homes from storm damage. By considering the pros and cons and consulting with a professional, you can make an informed decision that meets your specific needs and budget while boosting the SEO score for your website.

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