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The Ultimate Guide to RV Awnings

Table of Contents

All of Your RV Awning Questions Answered

RV awnings have many benefits and they are quite simple to open, close, and store securely while you are traveling on the road. Manual and automatic or motorized awnings are the two basic types of operation. You also have different fabrics and subtypes from which to choose, each with its own qualities. Reading this guide can help you to choose the exact RV awning that will be the best for you.

If you are considering adding an awning to your RV, you will be pleasantly surprised that you have several different options and two distinct types as well as some great accessories from which to choose.

What Are RV Awnings?

RV awnings are a type of fabric that is supported by aluminum arms to hold it in place. You can have smaller window awnings and larger awnings that are sometimes called RV patio awnings, to give you relief from the hot sun over a large area of space. The end of the awning farthest from the actual RV will be lower than the other end to allow any dew, rain or condensation to run off so it doesn’t pool and make the awning sag under the added weight of water. Larger RV’s can accommodate larger awnings for more useable outdoor space.

What are the Benefits of Awnings?

Adding an awning to your RV gives you many great benefits while increasing the usefulness and versatility of your RV and making your camping adventure more fun for all involved. Here are five great benefits:

  • Keep cooler on hot days
  • Protection from UV rays
  • Preventing sun from shining in RV to keep it cooler and protect carpets and fabrics
  • Adding an outdoor room that’s virtually bug-free
  • Protection from the rain while sitting outside

Manual or Automatic Awnings?

The two types of RV awnings are manual and automatic, which are both considered retractable awnings as you can open or close them and they don’t remain in a fixed and open position. Manual awnings open and close with little muscle needed so just about anyone can operate them with ease, although it takes quite a few more steps than an automatic awning and a bit more time. Automatic or motorized awnings open with a touch of remote control or a control panel in your RV in which you push the button until it is open or closed to the desired position. Some automatic RV awnings have a sensor on them to retract automatically if it detects rain or wind to keep it from being damaged.

What are the Subtypes of RV Awnings?

Learning the advantages and disadvantages of the subtypes of RV awnings allows you to choose the best one for your application.

Acrylic Awnings

The most common awning materials for RVs are made of acrylic and vinyl. The acrylic type is the most widely used with Sunbrella as a leader in this type of fabric. Advantages include:

  • Quick-drying fabric
  • Repels water on the surface
  • Good air circulation and breathable
  • Ability to handle sun, rain, snow, ice, winds, dust, dirt and bugs

The disadvantages include:

  • Can get overstretched to cause whipping in the wind
  • Not waterproof, water can seep through

Vinyl Awnings

vinyl awnings

The second most common fabric is vinyl awnings and its advantages are:

  • Fade-resistant and scratch-resistant
  • Waterproof
  • Road dirt, UV rays and pollution can’t penetrate the material

The disadvantages include:

  • Prone to mildew and mold
  • They attract dirt and dust

Fixed Awnings

Some RV owners opt for fixed awnings that are permanently attached to the RV over doors and windows and they are usually made of aluminum and only provide a bit of protection from the harsh sunlight entering your RV. The disadvantages of this type of awning are:

  • Prone to falling off while driving
  • Very little flexibility in changing the awning position

The Different Parts of an RV Awning

The basic framework and fabric are the same on both manual and automatic awnings, although the process of operation is different. Make certain to read your owner’s manual for the exact operating procedures for your particular make and model of RV awning.

Automatic Awning Parts

A powered awning uses either 120AC or 12V DC power, depending on the particular make and model. The power comes from the RV’s main power supply with the electric lines running through one of the awning arms. Your RV doesn’t need to be plugged in, but you would need your generator running or your inverter turned on to operate it. The arms extend and retract with the awning by using gas pistons on a spring tensioning system. It may have two or more arms on it depending on the size of the awning. Automatic awnings have a manual override to manually open and close them if the motor isn’t working or you have a power issue.

Manual Awning Parts

Manuel awnings work with the use of a torsion spring mechanism that is installed in the awning roller tube. It has a switch to move to retract or extend and then you use an awning rod to pull the strap in the center of the awning until you can reach the strap and continue pulling until it’s fully extended. You then extend the inner support arms to the outer support arms on each side and raise the awning on both sides. It helps to have assistance to raise each side at the same time, or you can raise one side partially upward, then go to the other side and raise it partially upward and keep repeating this until its open entirely.

Additional Accessories for RV Awnings

You can add several different types of accessories to your RV awning to make it as comfy as a home.

RV patio awning

Patio Awnings

Patio awnings or sheltered awnings have extra fabric to attach to them to create an outdoor room with a roof, walls and a doorway. It gives you additional space with more than just shade. It can be an additional sleeping area with increased privacy or you can store items in it when you are parked. The walls also give you extra splash proof quality when it rains.

LED Lighting Strips

LED lighting strips give you ample lighting for hanging outside at night and enjoying the weather. They simply are cut to size, installed under the outer edge of the awning or on the awning roller next to the RV and wired into the existing power source. Many LED lights allow you to adjust the intensity for a subdued glow at night or powerfully bright for outdoor reading.

Sun Blockers and Side Blockers

Your awning will protect you from overhead sun and heat but with the use of sun blockers and side blockers, you can be protected even more. They attach to your awning and can keep out about 85% of light to result in a cool and comfortable area even in the dog days of summer. They are transparent so you can still have a great view of the outdoors without contending with the sun’s glare.

Awning Canopy Extensions

If you are traveling with quite a few friends or several families, you may have the need for an extra-large area of shade for lounging around outdoors. Canopy extensions create an extended outdoor living area with several extra feet of shelter.

Awning Mats

Awning mats are stylish and very practical for your awning area. They add color to your area and they filter through dirt and water making a boundary between you and the ground. These are super helpful if it’s rainy or has rained and the ground is wet. Less water and dirt on your feet mean less of these items going in the door to dirty your RV inside. They also give you a level foundation to put your chairs and tables on instead of contending with bumpy grass or lumpy rocks.

RV Awning Cover

If you don’t use your RV awning very often, you can protect it so it lasts much longer with an awning cover. It protects your awning when fully retracted with a durable cover to keep the canopy safe from debris and weather, which will also protect it from mold and mildew.

Awning Fans

You can really cool your outdoor area with 12V fans under your awning. They simply clip onto the awning and most have no visible wires that show for a neat appearance.

Awning Speakers

Many people will not leave home without their tunes enabled. You can add Bluetooth awning speakers that clip on your awning without seeing the cables and enjoy your favorite music that is stored on your phone or other smart device by simply syncing it to the speaker.

There is a great big world waiting for you to explore it and as you can now see, you have many options when traveling in your RV to make a large and comfortable resting area outside on your home away from home. Choosing an awing and adding your most wanted accessories can make your time in the great outdoors a very comfortable experience that you and your family and friends will enjoy for many years to come.

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Mike Lewis

An expert in the window treatment business. I oversee every job from sale to installation, ensuring smooth execution of commercial projects with a hands-on approach.

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