Dear Jim: I want a strong window shutter for security and storms, but I don’t want it to block my outdoor view. Is a rolling shutter strong enough and will it improve the efficiency of a large window? – Celeste N.
Dear Celeste: Installing rolling shutters can protect your windows and sliding glass doors from damage during severe weather. In some hurricane-prone states, such as Florida and the Texas coast, new homes or ones doing major improvement projects are required to install approved rolling shutters. In other parts of the country, they are also popular for energy savings and security benefits.
Energy savings with a rolling shutter can be significant, especially over large windows and glass doors. Considering only the insulation value of the shutter slats, a rolling window shutter can triple the R-value of a standard window. Additional savings come from the dead air space which is created, reducing air leakage and blocking the sun’s heat and fading rays during summer.
A rolling window shutter operates similarly to an old roll top desk. It is mounted in outdoor vertical tracks on each side of a window or door and rolls up into a small box mounted above the window or door. The individual slats are often only one to two inches tall and interlock with each other. The mechanism to raise and lower them is indoors. There also is an emergency hand crank rod that can be used outdoors.
When the shutter is lowered covering the entire window, some shutters still allow natural light to come indoors. Each interlocking flange connecting the slats together has long narrow holes. When the shutter is completely lowered against the sill, these holes are hidden. As the shutter starts to lift, the slats separate to expose the holes while the bottom slat is still resting on the window sill.
There are several slat design options. The least expensive is made of hollow rolled sheet metal. Metals become stronger and stiffer from the rolling and forming operation. Another option is this same type of roll-formed slat with insulation in the cavity. This makes it a little stronger and provides more insulation. The strongest and most expensive slats are heavier extruded metal.
The type of opening device and controls will be determined by the type and size of the rolling shutter you install and the level of convenience you desire. If a shutter is difficult and inconvenient to open and close, you will end up just not using it as often as you should for the greatest energy savings and storm protection.
When installing a shutter over a normal-size window, an inexpensive pull strap operator is effective. For larger shutters or heavier extruded ones, a hand crank is a good choice.
This is still reasonably priced and easy to use. For the most convenience, electric operators are available. With modern electronics, groups of shutters can be operated from just one control.
It is not difficult to install one yourself. Measure and mount the side track on the outdoor wall. Slide the support ends into the top of the tracks and secure it with screws. I installed a very large Roll-A-Way one with an electric operator over a 7×11 ft. picture window.