User Guide

What you need to know to use this calculator – a Step-by-Step guide

Our Calculator is designed to be easy to use, but it does require some understanding of steel beams and structures. To make your life easier, this user guide carefully explains what information is required for each section of the calculator.

1 Steel beam details

1.1 Enter the steel beam span length
Enter the length of the steel beam.

1.2 Select steel beam size
Select the steel beam size from the dropdown list. You have a choice of ‘W Beams’, ‘S Beams’ or ‘American Standard Channels’.

W Beams and S Beams both have a distinctive "I" shape whereas the width and depth are more similar in W Beams, the depth is noticeably greater than the width in a S Beam. In contrast, American Standard Channels have a C shape. If you're not sure what beam size to use, just allow the steel beam calculator to select the beam size for you.

1.3 Minimum Yield Stress
Select either 36,000 psi or 50,000 psi. (New steel is usually 50,000 psi.)

2 Load details

Select from the following load types on the dropdown menu: ‘Uniformly Distributed Load’, ‘Partial Uniformly Distributed Load’, or ‘Point Load’.

  • For Uniformly Distributed Loads and Partial Uniformly Distributed Loads, select ‘Loading Details’ from the dropdown menu, and enter the tributary width of the load. If you wish to use a load that is not on the dropdown list, select ‘Other’.
  • Multiple loads can be added by clicking ‘Add Another Load’.
  • For Point Loads, enter the dimension to the Point Load along the length of the beam, the name of the Point Load and the Loads.

You do not need to add the self-weight of the steel beam, as the package automatically allows for this.

For other loads, you can manually enter the name of the load and its weight.

3 Lateral bracing

If top flange is laterally braced by regularly spaced members generally at least every 2 feet it can be assumed to be fully braced, provided bracing members are attached to the beam with fasteners that provide a positive connection. If this is not the case please select 'No'.

If your beam is not going to be fully braced, you will need to know the length between its bracing members. This is usually the same as the beam span length. However, if another beam is fixed at right angles to the beam along its length, this will provide bracing. In this case, you should measure the greatest distance between bracing members and enter these details.

4 Deflection limits

4.1 Live load deflection limit
This is how much the beam sags when it is loaded. Normally this is restricted to span/360; however, you can change this if required.

4.2 Total live and dead load deflection limit
We recommend that is usually span/240; however, you can change this if required.

Press the ‘Run Calculation’ button at the bottom of the page to generate the Beam Calculation Report. If you are using the auto select feature, you will be shown a list of all the steel beam sizes that are suitable for your requirements.

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