Close-up of backyard patio covered by bronze pergola with pivoting louvers and fan and sky view revealed between open louvers

Before we get to cost, let’s first understand what is meant by a “smart pergola.” A pergola, by definition (Merriam-Webster), is “a structure usually consisting of parallel colonnades supporting an open roof of girders and cross rafters.” For centuries, pergolas have been used to provide some level of shade for those enjoying an outdoor garden or space between two buildings. Originally made of stone or bricks, and later of wood, a pergola could, if the owner desired, accommodate climbing plants that would intertwine through the roof slats to create an ethereal effect and a little more protection. Botanical embellishments aside, though, these shade structures were slow to evolve. In more recent decades, however, different construction materials were tested, designs were fine-tuned, and, with the advent of technology, a new smart pergola was born. What makes it a smart pergola? The ability, through technology, to operate on its own or with voice or digital commands to do things like change the angle of the louvers, activate added lights, fans, or screens, or to even detect weather changes so the smart pergola can open and close on its own.

Cost Variables

Today, most DIY pergola kits or big box-store pergolas offer wood construction. That’s because (at least until the 2020 pandemic) wood was relatively cheap and easy to come by. The design of these pergolas includes four posts holding up four beams that support a number of slats. But the slats don’t move. The cost of these wood products can vary from a few hundred dollars to several thousand depending on quality and size. However there is a hidden cost for wood pergolas, that is the maintenance that wood requires.

For manufactured pergolas made of aluminum, the price varies based on size and add-ons, like fans and screens. For a company like StruXure, where every pergola is a custom order, it is nearly impossible to estimate the cost of their pergola systems without actual measurements and a thorough discussion with the owner about add-ons, such a lights, fans, and screens.

From Regular Pergola to Smart Pergola

What can be explained is how the pergola is further evolving into a smart pergola. As durable, lighter-weight metal—aluminum specifically—has become more readily available and cost effective, metal has begun to replace wood in the world of pergolas. And if you can change out the material of an ancient design, why not investigate other modifications? This is where pivoting louvers came it. Metal louvers aren’t as heavy as wood, which makes it easier for the louvers to pivot. Aluminum also marries with technology much better than wood, which has led to even further innovation such as interlocking louvers and gutter systems.

Ultimately, there are three factors that have turned the traditional pergola into a smart pergola: 1) design and materials that allow the louvers to easily pivot; 2) the addition of a motor that can be controlled by a handheld device and can be linked to other advanced technology; and 3) superior design, such as the hidden innerworkings that elevate a louvered roof structure into a bona fide smart pergola.

Comparing Apples to Apples When Pricing a Smart Pergola

Not all louvered roof structures are created equal, nor are they all smart pergolas. It is important to know what you are getting pricing out a smart pergola, as quality, technology, and design will impact user-friendliness, durability, and, of course, cost.

Be sure to consider the integrity of the materials used to craft the pergola. If it’s made of vinyl, then cost will be low, as will durability. Vinyl may be a quick solution, but it will not return value in the long run. Wood can produce a beautiful looking pergola, but with wood comes high maintenance and added costs in the future. If you’ve ever tried to maintain a wooden fence, deck, or outdoor furniture, you already understand the upkeep involved. The best material to consider for your forever smart pergola is extruded aluminum. It is relatively light-weight yet sturdy, and is quite durable. Make sure it is powder coated for long-term outdoor use and scratch resistance.

Next, look at the customizability of the product. Is it a one-size-fits-all product? If so, the cost may be lower, but is it really going to suit your specific needs? Investigate the following questions: Do the louvers rotate 170-degrees, or is the range of motion limited? Can the louvers fully close and do they interlock for a watertight seal? Is there a gutter system that channels rain water off the pergola? Can screens, fans, and lights be seamlessly added to the pergola without looking like an afterthought? Is the pergola you are about to invest in truly a smart pergola with AI capabilities, like detecting the weather?

As you can see, there isn’t a simple answer to how much a smart pergola costs, because there are far too many variables that must first be considered. But if you do your research, you will find that StruXure is the top manufacturer of smart pergolas and the value of adding one to your home will far outweigh any initial costs incurred.

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