Do not Forget the Tilt!

There are countless articles and blog posts about patio umbrellas. With a simple internet search, you can find information on aluminum umbrellas, wood umbrellas and offset umbrellas that will detail everything you need to know about construction, or quality of wood, or the best way to position an umbrella. But it's almost impossible to find information on probably the most important function of a modern patio umbrella; the way it tilts.

Let's face it, we seldom think about it, but we fully expect our umbrella purchases to be the perfect umbrella for us, until we find out that maybe we should have looked at the tilt functions and little more. We need an umbrella to tilt because the sun just does not stay in the same spot all the time. Most people are of the opinion that an umbrella tilts … all umbrellas tilt, right? Wrong. Some umbrellas definitely do not tilt, and other umbrellas do tilt, but not the way the customer thought it would. Do not let yourself be done again. Let's take a look at the most basic tilt functions so that you can decide which one is right for you.

Mechanical Push Button – The grand daddy of tilt functions, there were probably a few early attempts to get a patio umbrella to tilt that did not get past the "let's try this" stage, but someone finally came up with this design, and it stuck. The promise of a push button is simple: At the top of the umbrella pole, near what's called the hub, is a button that controls a levered tilt system. Push the button and the lever clicks down one level. This typically results in three tilt angles, but there are known to be up to five tilt positions.

Automatic – Also called the auto tilt, at one time this was the absolute most popular umbrella in the United States, and for a pretty good reason. It works like this: The umbrella cranks open like most umbrellas do, but once it's completely open, you turn the crank one more time, and the umbrella tilts. There are no limit to tilt angles on an auto tilt umbrella, so you can change the tilt as the sun changes location in the sky. Pretty neat when you're laying out all day.

Collar – Collar tilt patio umbrellas are also considered a type of automatic tilt, but the tilting function is not dependent on the crank. Collar tilt umbrellas open the same as a push-button and auto tilt, from the crank. However, when you want to tilt the umbrella, you turn a collar that's just over the crank housing. By far, a collar tilt umbrella is much easier to use than a push button or automatic tilt. The angles of the tilt is as limitless as an auto tilt, but much more secure.

In general, push button tilts are the most economic of the three basic choices. Auto tilt and collar tilt umbrellas are generally around the same price range. Your choice should depend on how you plan to use your umbrella. For daily use, such as over tables or general lounging, it's best to go with a tilt function that's easy to use and provides the most shade all day, such as the auto tilt or collar tilt umbrellas. If your using patio umbrellas for creating shade areas around your outdoor room, a push button tilt is perfect for the job.

Just remember, the sun moves through the sky through the day so a tilt patio umbrella will help keep you shaded and relaxed while you lounge.