Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a type of radiation that comes from the sun. There are three main types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB rays can damage items in your truck bed by breaking down materials, fading colors, and weakening fabrics. Electronics and perishable foods are especially vulnerable.
For example, UV rays can cause plastic and rubber to become brittle and crack over time. They also speed up the spoiling process in fruits, vegetables, and other organic materials. UV rays are strongest during summer months and in areas closer to the equator.
How does a tonneau cover provide UV protection?
A tonneau cover sits over the truck bed, creating a barrier between your cargo and the sun’s UV rays. Quality tonneau covers are constructed from durable, UV-resistant materials such as vinyl, aluminum, or fiberglass.
This blocks a large percentage of harmful UVA and UVB rays from reaching your belongings. A tonneau also provides shade, keeping your cargo cooler and less prone to UV damage. Covers that fully enclose the bed offer the highest level of UV protection.
What factors affect the level of UV protection from a tonneau cover?
- Materials: Covers made with thicker, more dense materials block more UV rays. Vinyl, aluminum and fiberglass offer superior UV resistance compared to canvas or plastic.
- Color: Darker colored covers absorb more UV rays, while light colors reflect the rays away.
- Coverage: A cover that fully encloses the bed offers far better UV blocking than one that only partially covers. Soft roll-up covers provide the least UV protection.
- Condition: Cracks, holes, or degradation from wear and tear allow more UV penetration. Keeping your cover maintained preserves its protective abilities.
- Installation: Gaps or openings where the cover doesn’t properly seal to the bed also allow UV entry. Proper installation is key.
What types of cargo should you use a tonneau cover to protect?
Items vulnerable to UV damage that warrant tonneau cover protection include:
- Food – Fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products
- Plastics – Storage bins, lawn furniture, tools
- Fabrics – Blankets, clothing, tarps
- Paints and finishes – Paint cans, stains, urethane
- Electronics – Laptops, speakers, TVs, phones
- Chemicals – Cleaners, oils, adhesives
- Paper goods – Cardboard boxes, books, paperwork
What are the pros and cons of different tonneau cover types for UV protection?
Hard Tonneau Covers
- Offer the most complete UV blocking
- Made of dense aluminum or fiberglass
- Lockable for security
- More expensive than soft covers
- Difficult self-installation
Soft Roll-Up Tonneau Covers
- Affordable pricing
- Easy roll on/off convenience
- Simple self-installation
- Less effective at blocking UV rays
- Potential for billowing in wind
Retractable/Folding Tonneau Covers
- Combination of hard and soft cover benefits
- Retracts for full bed access
- Pricier than soft covers
- Some gaping when partially open
How can you maintain your tonneau cover’s UV blocking properties over time?
To keep your tonneau cover working optimally:
- Inspect for cracks or damage. Repair small holes immediately before they spread.
- Check seals around edges. Re-seal any gaps with caulk or rubber trim.
- Keep cover cleaned. Dirt and debris can scratch surfaces.
- Avoid overloading cover. Excess weight stresses the material.
- Use protectants like vinyl conditioners or armor sealants.
- Ensure clamps/fasteners are tight. Loose hardware allows flapping.
- Wash dirt off underside and allow to fully dry before closing.
Like most truck accessories, proper care and maintenance is key to extending the life of your tonneau cover and retaining its protective qualities.
What other cargo protection options work well with a tonneau?
Adding accessories like bed mats, bed liners, or storage bins creates a more protective environment:
- Bed mats – Cushion cargo from shocks/vibrations during driving. Help keep items from sliding.
- Bed liners – Shield entire bed from dents, scratches, rust. Provide an extra UV barrier.
- Tool boxes – Lockable, sealable bins keep valuable items enclosed and organized.
- Cargo nets/bars – Secure loose objects from shifting around the bed.
- Tailgate seal – Prevents dust/debris intrusion through the tailgate gap.
A tonneau cover combined with other truck bed protection is the best way to fully secure your cargo from UV damage and the elements.
Conclusion: Should you get a tonneau cover to protect cargo from UV rays?
In summary, investing in a quality tonneau cover is an excellent way to shield your cargo from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Tonneau covers create a protective barrier that blocks the majority of UV rays that can damage and degrade materials left uncovered in your truck bed.
Just be sure to get a cover made from durable, UV-resistant materials that completely seals off the bed area. And don’t forget to take proper care of it over time. Following these guidelines will ensure your tonneau cover effectively protects your valuables from UV damage for years to come.