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An Overview of Must-Know Facts About Roller Shutters

rolling shutter
rolling shutter

An Overview of Must-Know Facts About Roller Shutters

Windows and doorsAn Overview of Must-Know Facts About Roller Shutters

Roller shutters are an effective way to improve home comfort and security. Made to suit all window sizes, they’re most often made of aluminum or PVC for optimal durability and energy efficiency.

Furthermore, roller shutters can be motorized for a user-friendly experience. Whether you’re planning a renovation or building a new home, you first have to understand the different components that make up roller shutters, the choice of materials available, and best maintenance practices. 

Window and Front Door Roller Shutters: Manual or Motorized?

rolling shutter

Pros and Cons of Manual Roller Shutters

Roller shutters with crank handles are:

  • Easy to install, even oversized models (winch and gears)

  • Ideal for shutters spanning 3 m

  • Very easy to use

  • Cheaper than motorized models, but also more expensive than a strap winder system 

  • Works during a power outage 

However, using a crank handle also has its downsides: 

  • Requires a certain physical strain

  • The shutters can’t shut completely

  • Material wears over time 

When used, the crank handle can become twisted, rendering the twisted rod unusable over time. Moreover, mechanical wear caused by daily use can break the part located between the handle and the roller barrel, which connects the mechanism to the casing.  

Pros and Cons of Motorized Shutters

Motorized roller shutters have numerous advantages, given the following: 

  • Provide additional comfort

  • Can be connected to a home automation system (more details at the end of the article) 

  • Don't require any physical effort

  • Complicate break-ins

  • Very easy to use 

Amongst the more obvious downsides, motorized roller shutters are: 

  • More expensive

  • Impossible to use during a power outage

  • High maintenance (lubricate and clean mechanisms regularly)

As a result, one way or another, protecting your windows with roller shutters means handling a specific material daily that will eventually wear over time. As such, there’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing between a manual or motorized roller shutter. 

How to Pick Between PVC or Aluminum Roller?

rolling shutter

Aluminum and PVC are both sought-after materials when it comes to roller shutters. Let’s start off by detailing the older of the two—aluminum—prior to moving on with PVC-specific details.

Aluminum feat. Polyurethane Roller Shutters

Aluminum roller shutters are a far cry from a decent insulator. As such, to insulate the shutters as best as possible, the slats can be filled with polyurethane foam. 

As such, they’re reinforced, characterizing this type of steel roller shutter by the following advantages: 

  • Certain insulation properties

  • A price point offset by its lifespan (100 years)

  • Lightweight (2.7 g/cm³)

  • Heavy duty (90 MPa in terms of traction)

However, aluminum also has its downsides. Besides its price point, aluminum is also likely to dilate when exposed to temperature changes. Hence why, when using it, you have to make sure there's sufficient clearance between the guides, allowing the shutter to move up and down effortlessly.   

PVC Roller Shutters: Insulating and Resistant

PVC, unlike aluminum, is a rather weak conductor. Therefore, the slats don’t need to be reinforced with polyurethane foam, even though some models are made as such. 

The latter isn’t its sole upside, as PVC also has the following advantages: 

  • Very affordable: 15% savings, at least

  • Aesthetic: wide range of colour options

  • Weatherproof

  • Relatively durable: 10 to 15 years

  • Fireproof 

  • Recyclable 

Despite the above, PVC is a lot less traction- and impact-resistant compared to aluminum.

Lastly, note that PVC slats aren’t likely to span over two metres, whereas, aluminum slats benefit from decent rigidity and great stability.

As such, if you’re looking for cheap roller shutters, with a service life between 10 and 15 years, PVC is a great choice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a genuine investment, aluminum is your best bet.

Extra Little Perks of Roller Shutters

contractor measuring a roller shutter

Solar Roller Shutters: An Eco-Friendly Option

As detailed in our Complete Guide to a Solar Roof Installation, the province of Quebec is particularly graced with a decent amount of sunlight. As a matter of fact, even if your solar panels are north-facing, the sun's rays are still powerful enough to charge the battery that powers your solar roller shutters.

Given that Hydro-Québec produces its electricity by way of 61 hydropower plants, as well as 24 thermal power stations, solar roller shutters are indeed a great, eco-friendly option.

However, to truly appreciate its impact, it’s best to look at the system’s lifespan, which is, on average, as follows:

  • Battery: eight years

  • Solar panel: 20 years 

When it comes to battery-powered roller shutters, they aren’t limited to lithium-ion or lead-acid batteries, but also nickel-metal hybrid (NiMH) batteries. Indeed, some manufacturers use a nickel-metal hybrid to power their solar roller shutter motors. The benefit of such a technology is that it doesn’t contain cadmium, which is a toxic element grouped with other heavy metals found in the periodic table. 

Albeit all these batteries have an ecological footprint, their lifespan is part of the reason why solar roller shutters are deemed eco-friendly, so long as Hydro-Québec’s production rests on the use of multiple gas, heating oil, and diesel power plants.

Remote Controls and Other Home Automation Options

There are two main types of remote controls: 

  • one channel remote controls;

  • multi-channel remote controls.

With the former, the remote control with a single channel, you have a remote control per shutter. Knowing that the average Canadian home accounts for six to seven rooms, the situation can quickly become unmanageable. 

Hence the need for multi-channel remote controls. Said receiver can be set up as such: 

  • Channel 1: Master bedroom shutters 

  • Channel 2: Kids’ bedroom shutters 

  • Channel 3: Spare bedroom shutters

  • Channel 4: Living room - dinning room - kitchen shutters 

  • Channel 5: Bathroom shutters 

As such, when selecting the right channel, you can power on or off one or more shutters at the same time using a single remote control. 

With a remote control, you can also add other home automation options. Like what? You can connect one shutter to your internet modem. Afterward, install the respective app on your phone. 

Some motorized roller shutter manufacturers also developed their own applications for tablet or PC use. How beneficial are such applications? 

  • Simulate your presence: Programmable shutters can open or shut even in your absence.

  • Boost in comfort: A simple push of a button on your phone opens or closes the roller shutters.

  • Control the dwelling remotely: Some modems make it possible for you to connect light bulbs and heating systems to the same application. 

Practical Questions About Roller Shutters

rolling shutter

What should you know about installing roller shutters?

The roller shutter's thermal efficiency will depend on the quality of its installation. Indeed, the bigger the air gap between the shutter and the window, the better the insulation. As a result, if the shutter is installed too close to the window pane, it’ll lose a great deal of its thermal insulation capacity. 

Therefore, properly installing a roller shutter means adhering to the notion regarding rupturing thermal bridges. Hence why a surface-mount installation is preferred, allowing for as much space between the roller shutter and window as possible.

What are common roller shutter problems?

Here are the five most recurring concerns involving roller shutters:

  • Motor outage

  • Broken slat

  • Water leak

  • Broken roller barrel fastening mechanism

  • Broken crank handle or strap winder

A motor’s lifespan taps out at 15 years. As such, after a decade or so of daily use, you will likely need to change it. Otherwise, in the event of another concern, a qualified electrician will be able to assess the problem and provide you with the necessary solution.

If you spot a broken rail or slat, you can easily switch them out for new ones, instead of damaging the curtain or popping open the casing. 

Can you use roller shutters in the winter?

Yes, but that's subject to certain conditions. Winter freeze and snow storms can potentially damage the roller shutter’s opening and closing mechanism. As such, if snow or freeze builds up around the guides or the shutter itself, triggering the mechanism may damage it.

In all likelihood, be mindful of unusual noises or a straight-up blockage occurring with the shutter. In such a case, don’t force it. Go outside to assess the situation from a different vantage point, run a broom over the top to remove the snow, and inspect the guides. 

If the shutter’s curtain is stuck inside the casing, it’s probably best to call in a skilled repairman to deal with it.

In case of a storm, there are only two ways to position the shutter's curtain:

  • completely opened; or

  • completely closed.

Any other unfurling may rip the curtain from the barrel given the strength of the wind blowing.  

How to Clean Roller Shutters

cleaning a roller shutter

Regular maintenance translates into properly functioning roller shutters, especially considering the harsh Canadian climate.

To ensure your roller shutters have the best service life possible, you can also: 

  • clean the curtain with soap and water;

  • dust the guiding rails; and

  • remove any debris, leaves, or dirt on the rails or casing. 

If the motor stops unexpectedly, make sure nothing is hindering the shutter. Never force the shutter open or close as it risks breaking it. 

If the mechanism creaks, feel free to lubricate it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  

How much do roller shutters cost?

Several factors come to mind when dealing with roller shutter price points: 

  • Shutter size

  • Opening and closing mechanism (manual or motorized)

  • Home automation

  • Material (PVC or aluminum)

  • Custom-made 

The above-mentioned are all factors that will have an effect on the roller shutter’s price, installation excluded. As a result, to benefit from the best pricing, feel free to request quotes from several different companies.  

What are the best roller shutter brands?

  • Roll Pro (Ontario)

  • Montréal Roller Shutter

  • Canada Shutter Pros (Ontario)

  • Pentagon Shutters (USA) 

  • RS Canada (Ontario): retails European material manufactured by Alukon 

Roller Shutters: Shifting Toward Modern and Sustainable Comfort

Roller shutters are a versatile and efficient way to manage daylight, temperature, and security in your living spaces. In general, their use promotes the creation of comfortable and functional environments, whether that be in a residential or commercial setting.

By investing in roller shutters, you’re making a giant step toward a more sustainable and comfortable lifestyle, one that perfectly suits your home and daily needs.

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Last modified 2024-05-22

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