Category Archives: Commercial Awning

Guide to Wind Resistant Awnings

One of the major concerns homeowners and entrepreneurs have with awnings is the concern that they will be damaged due to heavy wind. While both have extremely valid concerns, their core issues are different. We will review our top suggestions for each below.

Scientific Data on Wind Resistant Canopies

A lot of companies toss out the term “Wind Resistant” awning and even cite independent tests, but what does it all really mean? We are not a manufacturer and are here simply to present the information we have learned from our research. All data listed below will be company neutral, and we will not list any specific brands or products. Our goal is simply to share our take on the topic and leave you with some questions that you can ask your salesperson.

When it comes to evaluating an awning, you need to understand what the manufacturer lists for their product. There are four classes of canopies which are:

  • Class 0 – This group has not been tested or and cannot be guaranteed to be wind resistant at all.
  • Class 1 – This group can withstand sustained wind of 12 mph with gusts of 15 mph.
  • Class 2 – This group can withstand sustained wind of 20 mph with gusts of 25 mph.
  • Class 3 – This group can withstand sustained wind of 30 mph with gusts of 38 mph.

If you are really interested in seeing professional wind testing that is done very well, I have embedded a youtube video of the top awning in a wind tunnel test that I have found.

These classes are actual numbers based on how products perform in the real world. Occasionally, we will see companies produce videos of their product in a wind tunnel with 80+ mph wind and come out undamaged. While these videos are impressive from an engineering perspective, the homeowner should not leave their awning up during hurricane force winds simply because one stood up in a video.

The wind tunnel is a controlled example that has the wind hitting the awnings in a specific direction. Additionally, the components are new with fully tightened hardware. Finally, there is no debris flying through the air that would cause incidental contact that leads to a catastrophic collapse. These videos measure the best case scenario of the wind hitting the fabric face on, and the are usually placed with multiple fans that push the air from roughly the same height as the frame.

Strong winds in real life are simply not like this. The wind can swirl and change direction. It can come from the side which will create an immense pressure difference on the fabric, and flying debris is a major reason for one or more arms of the frame to fail. Once of-of the arms breaks, the amount of energy generated by the loose awning grows exponentially. Imagine a set of nunchakus in which one-half the frame is one stick, the awning canvas acts as the chain, and the broken loose pole is able to whip around until the canvas tears.

Best Wind Resistant Awnings for The Home

If you live in an area with considerable wind, then we highly recommend either a metal awning which can withstand wind of 80 mph. We have created a full guide to metal awnings here or get a motorized, retractable awnings. There are two primary types of fabric awnings which are loose frame retractable awnings and permanently closed frame awnings. The close frame canopies have a steel or aluminum metal frame that is covered on all sides with either canvas of vinyl and attached through the grommets in the material. These are the absolute worst option when it comes to being the wind resistance as the wind can get caught under the fabric and putting immense pressure on the joints. The loose frame awnings are superior because they are only connected a the front bar and at the residence. This allows the wind a release at the open sides. The reason we are such fans of motorized, retractable awnings is because many manufacturers offer an automatic wind sensor that will retract the awning when wind speeds hit a predetermined amount. This creates the best case scenario for the homeowner as they can virtually live without fear of having the wind impact their awning. There is some risk even when it’s fully retracted; however, many tests have been done demonstrating no damage even with winds of 100 mph.

Best Wind Resistant Awnings for The Businesses

For retail and commercial establishments with a considerable wind, we have a slightly different recommendation. The reason is that you cannot simply take down the shade if it becomes windy. A restaurant with dining patrons cannot take down the cover halfway through a meal without impacting the dining experience. While most patrons won’t want to be sitting outside during extremely high winds, gusts of 25 mph would be acceptable to many people when they start their meal. It’s, therefore, imperative that any canopy or awning be incredibly wind resistant. A single failure could result in a lawsuit which ould place the entire financial well-being of the establishment at risk.

Our first suggestion for commercial patio covers is to use a galvanized steel awning that is covered with an adhesive vinyl. This will create far more contact points than the simple grommet option that’s used by most residences. Additionally, there are many options that are left completely uncovered with the bare metal simply painted rather than being covered by any fabric.

For the times that a metal cover isn’t an option, we recommend using a sail shade which used vertical metal supports. These can provide the open feel of a loose frame awning while having no customers head except for the canvas. If one of the connectors does fail, there is only a piece of cloth coming down rather than a heavy metal frame.

Insurance Considerations

When you are considering adding an external canopy in a high wind area, we highly recommend using a licensed, insured and bonded contractor. There are specific construction codes for any external shade, and it’s very important to ensure the contractor’s insurance covers projects in this area. Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) in 1995 had a single category for all external shading which was 10530. The 2014 version of the CSI MasterFormat divided these external awning and canopy projects into four categories which we have included below.

  • 10 73 13 – Awnings
  • 10 73 16 – Canopies
  • 10 71 13 – Exterior Sun Control Devices
  • 10 71 13.43 – Fixed Sun Screen.
  • 10 73 00 – Protective Covers (Generic)

When speaking with a potential contractor, I usually ask if they are comfortable if I record their conversation so that I can share it with my spouse later when deciding who to pick. This creates an amazing evidence trail if there are any failures because I always ask about what warranties there are on the work and the product. Another time I video record is the day they complete and I ask them to walk me through the entire project ensuring that I have both the person doing the construction and the finished canopy. This creates a wonderful timestamp that creates irrefutable proof of what it looked like when it was new. You can then use this to demonstrate the impact of wear of weather.

Author:
Marcion Albert

Date Published:
5/10/2017

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Louver Roof Awnings

Shade from Exposed Framework Only Awning

Shade from Exposed Framework Only Awning

What are Louver Roof Awnings?

This is one of our favorite types of awning because of its versatility and beauty. The frame either has two vertical supports with one side attached to the house or four free standing vertical supports to make it movable. Unlike other models of retractable awnings, the frame, size, and shape are all fixed. There is a large wooden or aluminum rectangle frame at the top of the supports. The frame will remain in place, and between each side rail of the frame will be a joist or louver. If you’re not familiar then you could imagine a Venetian shade placed horizontally in a wooden frame. The joists between the two sides of the frame create a allow some of the light to pass through, but also provide considerable shade. Most of the models feature fixed position joists that are always perpendicular to the ground. These are incredibly popular in upscale locations in the Southwest such as California and Arizona.

Due to the popularity of the fixed louver awning, a couple of very creative companies have created a mechanism that allows the louver to rotate in a similar manner to how the Venetian blinds mentioned above operate. These have built-in gutter systems so they can be open for sunny days, and be closed for rainy days so that space is always usable. These get the best of both worlds as you get the beauty of the open roof awnings while being able to use the patio all the time.

What Type of Materials are used in this?

They can be divided into two categories. The first are the wooden models that use treated lumber as the support legs, frame, and the louvers. Most of the time these are custom built pieces that begin as lumber which is cut specially for a custom designed awning or gazebo. There are some companies that make wood kits with all the pieces cut so they can be easily assembled; however, this makes up a far smaller portion of the wooden awnings. The second group is the structures that are composed of metal. The support posts and rafters are composed of a stainless or galvanized steel, and the joists are made of a lightweight extruded aluminum. The metal awnings are typically sold as kits, and they can be installed by someone with moderate home improvement abilities. This is usually a two person job simply due to the need of a second pair of hands to position all the parts during construction.

Depending on your budget there are two types of louvers. The first is a traditional rectangular shaped hollow beam that measures about 2″ x 5″. The beam is placed so the 2″ is horizontal and the 5″ is vertical so that when the sun is at an angle the joists overlap to create a contiguous area of shade. The second style of awning is a fluted louver has a cross section closer to the shape of the letter “S”. The fluted variation will provide just as much shading as the hollow beam, and it allows for improved airflow.

Why Get This Style of Awning?

Wood patio covers are more aesthetic than functional in our opinion. They are incredibly popular for homeowners because of their beauty, and they lend themselves to having many different layouts. The cost of the wood patio cover will depend entirely on the type of wood selected. There will be a huge difference in price of pine which will be $5.31 for a 2″x4″x 8′ compared with cherry which has a single board cost of $64.96. Regardless of the type of tree you select, you will always want it to be fully treated to prevent weather damage. One of our experts is working on a guide that will help homeowners identify the lower cost wood and stain it to appear as a higher value wood.

The primary advantage of the wood covers is the wow factor because when they are built correctly will be beautiful, and it can completely transform the exterior of the home. These can also be created by a skilled DIY craftsman. The drawbacks are the financial costs because these are the most expensive on our list, and additionally, they also require ongoing maintenance. In the rural areas, the frame can become the home to birds or bees which build nests that can damage the structure.

Drawbacks of this Style?

The main drawback to this option is the price. Whether it’s an attached awning or standalone gazebo, louver roof structures have a higher price tag than a closed roof option of a similar size. The primary driver for this is material cost as the fabric awnings only have support posts and rafters made of wood or metal with the shade being created by the lower cost fabric. For reference, a louvered roof awning kit can be triple the price of a very high-quality fabric based retractable awning kit. Additionally, the labor costs for the fabric option are also considerably less which is the only drawback that our team has with the louver style of structure.

Frequently Asked Questions on Awnings with a Louver Roof

Below we have compiled a list of the most common questions we see on this topic. If you would like to know something that is not covered on this page, please feel free to send us either an email or post in a comment below. While we certainly don’t know everything on the topic, we are happy to share the information we have learned.

  1. Do you need a building permit for a louvered roof pergola or awning?

    This depends on your area. In some areas of Florida, there are requirements on the amount of the wind that the structure must be able to withstand. In some areas in midwest states, there are requirements around the amount of snow that it must be able to support. Because the United States is a large country, the local regulations are going to vary. Because this is a major investment, we recommend that you contact a local awning company to inquire about restrictions. Even if you choose to do a DIY project, you may want to consult with them to get you through the licensing portion.

  2. How do you clean the louvered roofing?

    This style is far easier to clean than the traditional retractable awning. The first step is to use a garden hose to spray a generous amount of water over the entire surface. Pay special attention to the underside of the slats, as they are both the closest to the ground and least likely to be rinsed via rainwater. Let the structure sit for 5 minutes so that the moisture has some time to absorb.

    Next, you will want to make a bucket of cleaning liquid, and we recommend following the instructions by the specific manufacturer. If this is a DIY project, then you should look up the best cleaning options for the specific material you used whether that is wood or aluminum. From there, take a long handled brush and let is soak in the bucket for about 15 seconds so the bristles are fully covered with the soap. With the brush, you will want to wash each rafter individually. Start first by carefully rubbing the underside and then on each of the sides. After you finish cleaning all the rafters, you will then want to spray the entire awning with a substantial drenching from the house. For most areas, this is something that only needs to be done once or twice per year.

  3. Will a louvered roof awning keep my house cooler?

    Absolutely! This can keep your outdoor deck or patio up to 20 degrees cooler, and it can also lower your internal cooling bill by limiting the amount of sunlight that goes through the patio windows or doors. They have also been shown to lower the carbon footprint of the home.

  4. Do these work with solar energy systems?

    If you are considering a solar panel system, then we highly recommend choosing a different model. Technically, they can work by attaching them to the top of the rafters and leaving some space; however, their cooling impact will be greatly diminished as the panels will disrupt the airflow.

  5. Can I leave this up year round??

    Absolutely! One of the major perks is that the open roof design will allow rain and most snow to fall through. We do recommend clearing it off with your cleaning if any snow accumulation occurs as many times the rafters are not designed to support the additional mass from the snow.

  6. Any methods of lowering the impact of corrosion or weather damage?

    If your area receives a lot of precipitation, there is a silicone sealant that can be applied over the joints. This will create a water tight seal to stop anything from seeping in the connections that would eventually cause damage. The silicone awning sealant is rather in expensive at less than $15 per quart can.

  7. Any methods of lowering the impact of corrosion or weather damage?

    Yes, we find them beautiful, and we considered adding a fourth type to this page. We ultimately decided to omit them because we wanted to keep the guide more user-friendly, and we believed that topic was a tad more advanced than we wanted to cover in this post.

  8. How long should the louver roof awning last?

    With proper maintenance, it can easily last for more than a decade. Simple common sense cleaning and routine upkeep will keep it in good working order.

Conclusion

Do you have this style of patio cover? We would love to have some pictures and hear from you below in the comments. Was it built from a kit or was it a custom piece? Did you have it professionally installed or was it a DIY project? If you are a professional installer that has done a really nice install, we’d also love to hear from you. Nothing over promotional as we’re just looking to learn more about this type of structure so that we can write a more thorough guide for our readers.

Author:
Marcion Albert

Date Published:
4/25/2017

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Best Awnings for Phoenix Arizona

The dry arid environment of Arizona poses unique challenges for awnings and canopies. In the summer of 2017, we hit a new record high of 122 degrees on June 22. This heat can be a challenge for many air conditioning units to keep up. This heat is also a challenge to the fabric and metal frame of the external awnings. Additionally, the material needs to be able to withstand a complete lack of moisture that would cause dry rot for fabrics used in most parts of the country.

Why have an awning in Phoenix?

Awnings can produce two amazing benefits for houses in the hot Arizona sun. The first is that an awning or canopy that covers a large portion of the western facing wall can significantly lower summer air conditioning bills. There have been EPA studies that show an awning cut cooling costs by more than 8% during the hottest summer months. This occurs by shading the wall and windows from the sun’s rays. The second benefit is to create an outdoor living area. Shaded areas can be up to 20 degrees cooler so having a backyard area that is partially covered will allow it to be used for gatherings. This works especially well for evening entertaining as having a canopy over a patio will make the space far more usable.

Another major benefit is that by shading your western facing windows, you can dramatically ease the drain on the air condition in the hottest parts of the day. In the middle of the day in Arizona, we are often faced with temperatures that are so hot that the cooling systems will run constantly and overheat causing damage to the unit. While it may seem counter-intuitive, but adding window shading either external with a canopy or inside with reflective sun shades can dramatically increase the lifespan of the AC unit.

Commercial Awnings

Phoenix is a driving city which means people are often trying to find businesses from their car. Awnings are used by many companies as a memorable sign. A distinctive design or color can appear on a company website and will be instantly recognizable when the potential customers get to the area. If you are considering a commercial awning, we highly recommend contacting several companies for project mockups and estimates. In most cases, the awning will need to be made custom for lettering to appear. Additionally, whenever you are making a change to a public facing building you will want to hire a licensed contractor. Even a small awning over the front of a storefront can run several hundred dollars.

Our engineering and marketing team are currently building out a list of our top recommended awning install companies in our hometown of Phoenix. We are especially looking at the east valley including Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert and Scottsdale. If you a representative for a company who supports commercial awnings in these communities, we’d love to hear from you.

Off the Shelf Awnings


If you are looking for an off the shelf awning for your residential patio, we highly recommend the Petra’s Square Sun Shade. This comes in a variety of sizes ranging from 11.5 feet to 23, and it can easily be mounted to most homes with simple eye hooks and two additional support poles. We have compiled a detailed guide to awning support poles if you need those. This is a DIY project that can be assembled by one person with a ladder in an afternoon. We have reviewed many options, and we truly feel this is the best value for the homeowner that is looking to add some shade to their backyard.

If you are looking for an off the shelf retractable awning, then we suggest the GoPlus Retractable Deck. This unit measures 8.2′ by 6.5′ and does not require additional support poles. It features a manual crank for opening and comes with all necessary brackets. This is ideal for the hot Arizona summers.

Professional Installations

Our team is currently researching Phoenix Awning Companies to find a company that we feel comfortable recommending. At a minimum, we are seeking a company that has been in business for more than 5 years with more than 200 professional installations. If you own an awning company in the Phoenix or central Arizona area and would like to speak to us about your company, please contact us.

Author:
Jennifer Valance
Date Published:
3/30/2017
Date Updated:
6/22/2017

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Free Standing Awning Guide

Beautiful Free Shade on the Tempe Lake Bridge

What is a Free Standing Awnings

A free standing awning is also known as a “Standalone” awning. The beauty of this type of covering is that it is entirely portable, and it can provide shade in areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. In this guide, we are going to cover very traditional portable awnings that have two sturdy metal poles with angled coverings. We are also going to stretch the term to include popup tents because they solve a similar issue.

Our Research

To understand the best option, we have looked at more than 100 items. We have evaluated each product on the following items:

  • Ease of Setup
  • Weight
  • Price
  • Price per Square Foot
  • Portability
  • Type of Metal

What is the Better Fabric?

The best type of fabric is going to depend on which part of the country that you live. For people who live in the southwest, it’s far more important to have polyester or PVC. This is a lightweight material that is water resistant, and it can block 99% of UV rays. This material will not hold up as well in cold or freezing temperatures; however, it does well dealing with 100 degrees plus weather. For colder regions of the country, we highly recommend a canvas fabric if you are going to be tailgating in the winter. The material will fair much better in the cold weather, and it will not crack or tear during freezing temperatures.

What is the tailgate weight plates?

For anyone who owns a standalone awning or popup tent, tailgate plates are a must. The primary cause of insurance claims and injuries at tailgating parties is tents and canopies that are blown by the wind. The normal stakes will hold down the structure barring significant gusts as long as you are on a grass area; however, when you set up in a parking late everything changes. The stakes are not adequate for ensuring everything stays in place. Thankfully some really smart people invented a solution to this problem.

If you’d like to read our complete review of weight plates, you can check it out here, but we will provide an overview here. The weight plates “C-shaped” plates that usually weigh about 7.5 pounds each. To secure a pole, you can place one or more plate at the foot of each. If you place two or more plates, then you will want to align the open sections so that they face opposite directions. For example, if you have two plates you would place one slot facing a 3:00 while the other would be at 9:00. As each plate weighs 7.5 pounds, the entire tent is being held down by 60 pounds plus the weight of the frame.

What is the Better Steel or Aluminum?

The choice of frame material is a highly debated topic. On one side, there are people who totally prefer the strength of steel legs and backbone to the awning. This is more rigid and provides far more support for the overall structure. Steel is the clear choice if you are going to be using this in a cold weather environment where there will be snow or heavy wind. This makes it the better choice for people who live in the north or planning to uses this for tailgate season.

With all those benefits of steel, why is this really an open question? The reason is that the steel framework is incredibly heavy with some awnings and tents weighing more than 80 pounds. This can be difficult for a single person to set up alone. While the aluminum frames are not as sturdy and weather resistant, they weigh around half as much as the steel alternatives. If you choose to go with the lighter weight option, we highly recommend either getting stakes and tie downs if you are going to setting up on grass or tent weights if you are going to be in a parking lot.

Bottom Line on Costs

When it comes to cost, the choice really comes down to the type of portable shade that you are looking for. A quality pop up tent will be around $1 per square foot of coverage while a similar grade awning will be around $2.50 per square foot. While we have reviewed many products, we highly suggest not choosing something significantly cheaper than the price per square feet we have listed above. At that point, we found the quality takes a steep decline.

How Easy is it to Setup?

While the traditional awning is more expensive, the setup can easily be done by a single person in a few minutes. Most either have a simple turn crank or a remote control that extends the arms and attached fabric. Because the supports are centrally located, they are also incredibly easy to move by placing them on a two hand truck and rolling to the desired location. The popup tent is considerably less expensive and a superior option if you will be using it at offsite locations such as festivals or games. All of the tents that we evaluated require two people to setup. The steps were quite simple and only required the legs to be pulled in opposite directions and then lace the fabric to the supports. We were able to setup each of the models in under 15 minutes.

How to clean a Free Standing Awning

There are two main pieces when cleaning. The first is the metal framework. This can be washed using warm water with liquid dish soap and sprayed with a standard garden hose. For the fabric, we suggest you follow our detailed guide on how to care for each material type.

Usage with Motorhomes and RVs

Standalone awnings are ideal for RVs because they can easily be pulled from the vehicle and placed adjacent to it. This will create extra usable living space, and it will also create a welcoming social spot. For people who frequent RV parks, a portable awning is a must have.

Free Standing Awnings for Patios and Decks

These are incredibly popular because they are easy to setup or take down depending on the weather. They either have two central poles with fabric that extends outward from the support pole. The two pole often have wheels allowing them to easily be rolled to a new location in order to always provide protection from the sun. These are ideal if you live in an area that requires protection from the sun only a few hours per day. We are ver guy fans of this product and our favorite is Sunsetter oasis freestanding awning which is available at Costco.

The other type of free standing awning for the deck and patios has for legs and greatly resemble a popup tent. The primary difference is that these are more rigid with heavier support poles. This additional weight makes them less portable than popup tents; however, it also makes them far more sturdy.

Homemade Free Standing Awnings

I have chosen to include this section because it is a popular topic that we received many questions about. In the end, it is our opinion against building one of these from scratch or from some plans downloaded from the internet. If you are a DIY person there are kits available that will contain all the necessary components to create an architecturally sound structure. There are many projects that can be added as a home project; however, this one represents serious danger if it is built incorrectly.

Certifications to look for

If you are a school or park, you may want to find an IPEMA product. This certification stands for “International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association”.

Author:
Marcion Albert

Date Published:
3/20/2017

Updated On:
5/19/2017

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Awning Valance Styles

Serpentine Awning Valance

The most important aspect of learning the styles of awning valances is to understand that each manufacturer may use slightly different terminology. We will use what we consider the industry standard names that are used by most companies; however, we will also call out the options that are commonly called by a different name or when a term is ambiguous.

Straight

Straight Valance Style

This is the most common style of valances. This is merely a solid block of fabric along the side. There are neither patterns folded nor cut in the edge. This design is popular because it is often slightly less expensive than other styles because it requires less time and material. Additionally, the edge can be easily reinforced by folding the end over and using heavy stitching to create an incredibly strong border. The “straight” style has a consistent meaning with all companies so consumers will know exactly what they are getting when they purchase this option.

Classic (aka Parisienne)

Parisienne Valance Style

This option is the original design used for awnings. It begins as a straight and then rounded triangles are cut from the fabric at specified intervals. This creates an interesting pattern for the eye as the edge is an extended straight line that is periodically broken up with the small cutouts. While this term is rather universal, there are some companies that will use the term to “classic” to refer to the straight so it’s important to either see images or get the precise definition before ordering.

Arch (aka Reverse Mediterranean)

Reverse Mediterranean Valance Style

The is very similar to the classic pattern listed above. The primary difference is that instead of the rounded rectangle, this has a semi-circle. The pattern is a straight line for a 6′ to 12′ followed by a semi-circle cutout. While this design is universal, the details can vary greatly between individual companies. We highly recommend getting the exact specifications in terms of length of the edges as well as the size of the shapes that have been removed.

Scissor Cut (aka Bolderado )

Bolderado Valance Style

This pattern is similar to the two mentioned previously. It features extended straight stretches of material and then a small slit. This is the final valance style that has the long patches of material that is broken up by a geometrical pattern. This is a universal term used by all creators; however, we have found that a lot of businesses don’t offer this option.

Greek_Key

Greek Key Valance Style

This style begins as a straight edge and then large rectangular blocks are removed. The pattern is a section of regular length followed by an equal length of a cutout. This style is frequently used in Greek architecture and universal among every company we surveyed. This style is also popular for areas that have significant wind. The pattern in valance can catch the airflow causing the entire awning to sway. The movement can result in more people noticing the awning or building

Serpentine

Serpentine Valance Style

The trim of this valance is a smooth rounded curve. This is low amplitude sin curve, and it is one of our favorite patterns. It can be reinforced by taking the second piece of fabric and stitching it. The serpentine pattern will never be used to describe a different pattern; however, this border will be called a “low wave” by some awning manufacturers.

Mediterranean

Mediterranean Valance Style

The edging on this style is continuously rounded. The pattern is made of adjacent medium sized circles so that about 33% are below the normal stopping point. This creates a unique shape that is quite distinctive. This is one of the most popular of the rounded awning models.

What is the right awning style for you?

This is truly a personal decision based on your style and the aesthetic that you are going for. We have created a Pinterest board dedicated to illustrating the various types and how they look in photos. If you are on the fence, we recommend checking out our photo board there. Additionally, if there’s a style that you are considering that you don’t see listed here, we’d love to hear from you. Just contact us with the name and possibly a link to the specific product. A lot of time the same classic designs are used and then branded with a unique monicker by the manufacturer in order to market their product under that specific tradename. We have purposefully avoided using these type of tradenames when describing styles as we do not wish to choose one company over another.

Author:
Marcion Albert

Date Published:
10/10/2016

Date Revised:
5/6/2017
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