Olefin fabric canopy resists fading for years
Very sturdy and durably built
Canopy can rotate 360 degrees
Very hard to move when assembled
Base takes up a large footprint
Instant shade when you want it, where you want it, and the ability to be tucked away when not in use—that’s what makes outdoor umbrellas such a boon to patio living. But sometimes those pesky poles just get in the way. Maybe you want to play a board game at the table or set out a gorgeous spread of food. Maybe you want to shade all of your outdoor couches without having to essentially plant an umbrella smack in the middle of the conversation. Cantilevered umbrellas allow you to situate the base and pole off to the side while the canopy hovers perfectly overhead.
The Hampton Bay 11 ft. LED Offset Solar Umbrella is one of the most popular options in the category. A subsidiary of Home Depot, Hampton Bay is known for durable and stylish ceiling fans, lights, and outdoor furniture. We decided to test the brand’s umbrella and see if it lives up to its acclaimed reputation. We set it up in a sunny backyard in Portland, Oregon, during a week of blue skies and 80-degree weather. Did it perform as well as expected? Read on to see.
Setup Process: All about that base
The large, heavy box the umbrella came in required two people to maneuver. But the assembly was mostly a one-person job that centered around putting the base together. The instructions were easy to follow and not finicky. The manual is available online in case the one in the box gets lost, and there’s even a step-by-step video on Home Depot’s website. All the hardware and tools were included, including a few extra LED bulbs. We had it done in about 40 minutes (not including the time we spent going to the home improvement store to buy four 60-pound sandbags to fill the base). But it definitely helped to have an extra pair of hands to hold the vinyl bags open while pouring in the sand.
Performance: Excellent coverage and built to last
With its 11-foot diameter, this Hampton Bay patio umbrella provides a wide range of coverage—more than enough to shade our conversational grouping of outdoor couches. We usually avoid sitting on these couches during the middle of the day, when the sun is directly overhead and makes it far too hot and bright. But the umbrella completely shaded the area and made it a pleasant place to sit, even at high noon.
The canopy is made of UV-protected Olefin fabric, which is highly weather-resistant, durable, and fade-resistant. That’s why it’s often used to make outdoor carpets. We found the dense fabric provided deep shade and an immediate relief from the blazing hot sun. It’s vented so that hot air trapped under the canopy can escape and so the umbrella won’t catch in the wind. A large hook-and-loop fastener strap sewn to the edge allowed us to tie the canopy to the pole so it didn’t blow around. It also allowed us to secure the canopy when not in use.
The umbrella completely shaded the area and made it a pleasant place to sit, even at high noon.
The entire frame of the umbrella is made of strong steel that’s powder-coated to resist rust. The crank-lift system made it easy for us to position the canopy however we liked. We just had to push or pull the handle to slide the rod with the canopy along the curved pole. Depending on where we positioned it on the pole, the canopy would tilt. If we pushed it all the way out, the canopy would hang straight down. When we got it into position, we could then hold it in place by turning a knob. To open or close the canopy, we simply turned the handle clockwise or counterclockwise.
Design: Bold and beautiful
The base and poles of the cantilevered umbrella seemed giant at first, so we weren’t really sure how much we were going to like having such a large apparatus hanging around the yard. But once we set it up, it didn’t seem as clunky we expected; the arch shape of the poles is actually quite graceful. It makes the whole unit look a little bit fancy. When the umbrella is deployed, the giant earthy red octagon provides a bold and impressive statement along with a generous amount of shade. Its 11-foot circumference was enough to shade the entire U-shaped seating area comprised of three outdoor couches.
Once we set it up, it didn’t seem as clunky we expected; the arch shape of the poles is actually quite graceful.
As we mentioned, the base must be filled with 200-plus pounds of sand. This makes for a very solid and sturdy counterbalance to the weight of the poles and canopy. But because it’s so heavy and has no wheels or casters, it can’t really be moved to position the canopy over a different area. Luckily, the unit is designed to swivel 360 degrees. If we decided to move the canopy to shade an adjacent area, we simply loosened a knob and rotated the arm of the unit.
Under the umbrella are 40 tiny LED lights strung along the powder-coated steel ribs. They’re powered by a solar panel at the top of the umbrella, which charges all day long. A small switch hanging from the edge of the canopy allowed us to turn them off or on. We had them off during the day, but at dusk, we turned them on and enjoyed the ambiance.
Its 11-foot circumference was enough to shade the entire U-shaped seating area comprised of three outdoor couches.
Mobility: Set it and forget it
Just to reiterate: Because the base is filled with a couple hundred pounds of sand, this patio umbrella is really not mobile. Most people, aside from linebackers and weightlifters, aren’t accustomed to pushing around 200-pound weights. So we had to choose our setup area wisely. Once the base was full, we weren’t going to be moving it without a ton of effort. In the event that we do decide to move it, we’ll have to detach the umbrella, open the base, and remove the two 100-plus-pound sandbags.
We had to choose our setup area wisely. Once the base was full, we weren’t going to be moving it without a ton of effort.
Price: It’s an investment
With a list price of $300 to $400, coupled with the fact that you can’t really move it, this outdoor umbrella is more like furniture than a simple sunshade. There are less expensive cantilever patio umbrellas on the market, however: The Abba 9-Foot Patio Umbrella With Crank and Push Button Tilt, which we also tested, costs about $80 by comparison. However, the plastic weights that must be used with the base are sold separately and cost around $110 for an equivalent amount of weight that the Hampton Bay uses. Also, these weights must be filled with sand, which is also sold separately. When you add those up, the price isn’t so far from Hampton Bay’s.
Hampton Bay 11 ft. LED Offset Solar Umbrella vs. Abba 9-Foot Patio Umbrella With Crank and Push Button Tilt
Again, the Abba patio umbrella is about half the price of the Hampton Bay (without the necessary weights, which much be bought separately). However, its pole is aluminum instead of steel. The canopy is a fade-resistant, solution-dyed polyester; it’s not Olefin, which is known for its durability. Also, its cantilever system is angular, which has a lower profile than the arch of the Hampton Bay (especially when it’s folded up) but it doesn’t have the same graceful look. It offers five tilt settings, but the Hampton Bay’s arch allows for a wider range of micro-adjustments.
- Product Name 11 ft. LED Offset Solar Umbrella
- Product Brand Hampton Bay
- Price $399.00
- Weight 69 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 132 x 111 x 132 in.
- Color Chili Red, Henna, Midnight, Sand, Putty
- Umbrella Diameter 11 ft.
- Pole Diameter 2 in.
- Warranty One year, limited