An outdoor umbrella is a piece of outdoor furniture or an accessory that is typically part of outdoor furniture, such as a patio set. In appearance it is generally like any other umbrella only significantly larger in size in order to provide protection or shade for numerous people at once. It will often collapse and open just like any other type of umbrella, though this function may be achieved through a hand-turned crank rather than simply through physical manipulation of the umbrella. An outdoor umbrella will typically have some sort of stand to help it remain upright and prevent it from flying away in the wind, though it may be installed through the center of a table as well.
Sometimes also called a patio umbrella, an outdoor umbrella is in many respects simply a larger version of a standard hand-held umbrella. Much like smaller umbrellas, it typically functions to block rain, hail, snow, or even sunlight from reaching those within the shade and protection of the umbrella. This type of outdoor umbrella is often used in places with prodigious sunshine or rainfall, especially in restaurants and cafés that wish to have an outdoor seating area for guests. The umbrellas allow patrons to enjoy the outdoors, even when the weather may be somewhat inclement.
An outdoor umbrella can also be used by someone at his or her home and is often found on porches or patios. The umbrella will usually feature a hand-turned crank that will open and close the umbrella, unlike smaller umbrellas that are physically opened by hand. This is because the outdoor umbrella is usually quite a bit heavier than a hand umbrella, and the materials used within the canvas of the umbrella are often sturdier than personal umbrellas. Since outdoor umbrellas often have to endure severe weather and wind, this allows the umbrella to remain open and not invert as easily as personal umbrellas often can.
In order to resist the pull of such winds, an outdoor umbrella will typically have some kind of weighted stand as well. This will usually attach at the base of the umbrella and may serve both to keep the umbrella upright and to prevent it from blowing away easily in a strong wind. Many umbrellas are also included with patio furniture, and a patio table may have an opening in the middle into which the pole of an outdoor umbrella can be inserted. This serves to keep the umbrella upright, while providing shade and protection to those sitting at the table.