Last updated: August 4, 2021

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To protect our skin from the heat and the dangerous UV radiation of the sun, a parasol is the ideal shade provider. In addition, a parasol can also have other features that can be very beneficial for your everyday life.

The number of possible variants is very large - from colours, shapes and sizes to different functions. In our parasol guide, we have compared parasols with each other and shown you what the advantages and disadvantages are and what you should look out for when buying in order to find the best model for you.




Summary

  • Parasols are used in all areas of life - from everyday use at home in the garden or on the terrace to holidays at the beach. In addition to shielding from the sun, they can also provide protection from rain and wind.
  • They come in a wide variety of colours, sizes and shapes and, above all, UPF values. A sufficiently high Ultraviolet Protection Factor is essential to ensure protection from the sun and to prevent the umbrella from failing in its purpose.
  • With the right care and above all the right attachment of a stand or alternatively a ground socket, nothing stands in the way of the parasol's stable standing.

The Best Parasol: Our Picks

Parasols: Buying and evaluation criteria

If you have decided to buy a parasol, you should inform yourself about some criteria beforehand. In the following content, we list the factors that can be decisive for a possible purchase. The criteria you can use to compare parasols include:

In the following paragraphs, we will explain the mentioned aspects in detail and show you how you can rank these criteria.

Shape and size

Before buying a parasol, you should think about where you want to place it and how much space is available. The size should be large enough to serve its purpose well, but small enough to fit in various positions on the balcony or in the garden.

The size varies depending on the shape of the umbrella. Smaller models have a diameter of 1.50 metres, larger ones more than 4 metres. Spans of 1.5 to 2 metres are recommended for the balcony. For the terrace or garden, a larger umbrella is usually preferred to provide shade for more people. In the catering industry, on the other hand, a large, stable and weatherproof umbrella is needed.

Before you decide, you can try out an umbrella to see how much shade you get at which point in time. In addition, a folding stand gives you flexibility and allows you to adjust the umbrella according to the position of the sun.

UV protection

A very decisive criterion when choosing a sunshade is the respective sun protection factor. Harmful UV radiation passes through both clothing and fabrics, which is why parasols are given the so-called UPF value - Ultraviolet Protection Factor - which is achieved through a special fibre and fabric construction.

Here is a list of UPF values that you can use as a guide:

The higher the UPF value, the better!
  • 15 to 24 = medium protection
  • 25 to 50 = high protection
  • 50+ = excellent protection

The parasol should have the UV Standard 801 test label. The darker the fabric, the higher the UV protection. However, to avoid burning yourself, you should also wear sunscreen under every parasol.

Wind and rain resistance

If the parasol is frequently exposed to strong winds, sturdy equipment, i.e. robust cross struts, a thick parasol mast, sturdy metal fittings and tear-resistant fabric may be the right choice. The more wind there is, the more weight you need to secure it. In windier areas, it makes sense to anchor a sleeve firmly in the ground to protect the umbrella. Also, larger umbrellas have a wind valve at their tip, which allows the breeze to pass through easily.

Parasols with a polyester cover can usually withstand normal rain for 30 to 60 minutes, but most are not completely waterproof. The reason for this is the non-welded seams, which allow water to pass through over short or long periods of time.

It is not only the fabric used, but above all the impregnation layer that protects against whether and how quickly water penetrates the canopy.

This is not about the impregnation used itself, but about the waterproofness achieved, which should have a value of at least 300 millimetres water column with good impregnations.

To prolong the life of your parasol, it is best to pack it away completely or use a protective cover if it is too windy or rainy.

Accessories

To ensure that your parasol functions perfectly, you should also be familiar with parasol stands, protective covers and ground sockets.

Protective cover

It helps if you look for high-quality workmanship and a thick material thickness so that the protective cover can withstand the weather conditions. The choice of material is crucial and you can choose between fabric and plastic versions. Possible environmental influences include, among others:

  • Colour reduction due to UV radiation
  • Material wear due to sun and rain
  • Mould formation due to humidity and moisture
  • Fabric damage due to wind

Umbrella stand

A solid base is the basic requirement for a perfect parasol. There is a wide range of parasol stands with different materials such as granite, concrete or plastic, which ensure a secure stand.

Depending on the size and weight of the parasol, a different stand is also necessary. While robust plastic is sufficient for smaller and lighter parasols, you are better off with a heavy parasol stand made of granite or concrete for large parasols such as the market parasol.

Ground socket

Ground sockets can be screwed in, hammered in or set in concrete - they are an alternative to the umbrella stand. They do not protrude from the ground, are virtually inconspicuous and you can effectively use the free space that would be occupied by an umbrella stand.

Parasols: Frequently asked questions and answers

In the following, we will show you the most important questions and the corresponding answers about parasols. After reading this guide, you will know both the essential background and the specifics about parasols.

Who is a parasol suitable for?

Parasols are suitable for anyone who wants to protect themselves from the sun and have a shady spot - be it in the garden, on the balcony, the terrace or in the outdoor areas of cafés and restaurants.

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No good summer holiday should be without a parasol in a suitable shape with high UV protection. (Image source: Clay LeConey / unsplash)

What types of parasols are there?

There are numerous types of parasols, which differ in type, size and design. Here we give you an overview of the most common forms and their most important advantages and disadvantages:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Centre pole parasol The centre pole parasol is the classic parasol and is particularly suitable for garden tables due to the parasol hole in the middle. It can also be aligned according to the sun If the parasol stands freely, it can become a tripping hazard. Often the handling is more complex.
Traffic light umbrella Due to the lateral stand, you can move freely under the shaded area. The umbrella can be used flexibly and is particularly suitable for balconies and terraces The free-hanging canopy makes the umbrella more susceptible to wind.
Balcony umbrella Due to a special shape, they fit perfectly into smaller corners and narrower balcony spaces They do not provide as much shade.
Wall umbrella The pole is fixed to the wall so there is no stand in the way. By moving the handle, the shade can be tilted forwards and backwards It cannot simply be placed somewhere else.

What materials are there for a parasol?

The pole of the parasol usually consists of a steel tube, metal ribs and a synthetic covering.

Alternatively, you can also choose a parasol made of purely vegetable, renewable raw materials. In this case, the steel tube is made of bamboo or wood and treated to be weatherproof. The textiles for the covering are cotton, linen, hand, bamboo or sisal.

What does a parasol cost?

The question of cost cannot be answered simply like that. You can find parasols in the two-digit euro range - but they are usually smaller and have a simple design.

If the parasol is to be of a higher quality with a more unusual material and design, amounts in the mid three-digit range will be due. There are no upper limits, and you can even spend several thousand euros on particularly extravagant models.

What are the alternatives to a parasol?

Parasols come in many different types, sizes and materials. Each variant has its own advantages and disadvantages. In the following, we will introduce you to two alternatives.

Alternative Description
Awning Due to their large surface area, awnings provide more shade than parasols and are easy to handle thanks to their electronic or crank function. In strong winds, however, awnings can become unstable and suffer damage.
Awnings Most awnings are triangular in shape. Sun sails can be used to protect not only balconies but also entire roof terraces or gardens from the sun. They can be stretched on the house wall, on trees and on free-standing stainless steel poles. Since you don't have a pole, you have to be able to tie the sail to something.

Each of the shade providers has certain advantages that are not to be sneezed at. Depending on the place and purpose for which you need the parasol, you can choose the most advantageous variant for you.

How do I care for the parasol?

Parasols are very easy to care for. They usually have a polyester fabric that is dirt-repellent and insensitive to mould or the like. If the pole is made of wood such as teak or acacia, you can impregnate it and treat it with special care products.

Outdoors, the parasol should have a protective cover to protect the fabric and thus the frame and prolong its life. In winter, store the parasol indoors in a dry place.

How do I fix a parasol?

There are a few fixing mechanisms. If it is particularly windy, you will need more weight to fix it. Small parasols can be fixed by filling the stand with water or sand for more stability. For larger models, a stone or concrete stand is advisable.

You can anchor the umbrella with a permanently installed ground socket - this is particularly useful for large models. The depth of the hole should be at least the length of the retractable part of the ground socket. This installation should be carried out very precisely so that the umbrella does not stand crooked later. In addition, it takes a lot of effort to undo the intervention, which is why the location wants to be chosen carefully.

Conclusion

Parasols are available in a wide variety of designs, so you are sure to find something to suit every taste and every situation. With the right accessories and the right care, you can enjoy the product for many years.

The dangerous UV radiation of the sun should not be underestimated, which makes the parasol a real must-have in summer or generally at high temperatures - not only for the pleasantly cool shade, but above all for the sake of your health.

Picture: 123rf/ 47799918

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