5 RV Awning Types: Pros & Cons for an Informed Choice

RV awnings come in acrylic and vinyl types, each with pros and cons. Acrylic is durable and breathable but pricier; vinyl is affordable and blocks light effectively but lacks breathability.

Travel trailer in the daytime during early fall at a Falls Lake campsite in North Carolina

Whether you’re a seasoned RV owner or a newbie just starting out, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right awning for your vehicle.

The awning not only provides much-needed shade during hot summer days but also serves as a protective shield against rain, snow, wind, and other elements.

But with so many options available on the market, how do you know which one is the best fit for your needs?

RV awnings come in various materials, designs, and operating mechanisms. The two most common materials used are acrylic and vinyl, while the designs range from traditional to contemporary.

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As for the operating mechanisms, you can choose between manual and automatic awnings. Each type has its unique advantages and disadvantages, and understanding them is crucial to making the right choice.

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Acrylic Awnings

white fabric awning with the garden background. white canvas sun shading roof side view.

Acrylic awnings are made of woven fabric that allows air circulation, contributing to its breathability. They are known for their resilience against sun, rain, ice, snow, winds, dust, dirt, and bugs.

Another distinct advantage of acrylic awnings is their water-repellent surface, which stops water from penetrating the fabric and instead makes it bead up and roll off.

Pros and Cons of Acrylic Awnings

Acrylic awnings are highly praised for their durability and breathability. Their ability to withstand various weather conditions makes them a popular choice among RV owners.

However, they may not be as effective in blocking sunlight as their vinyl counterparts. Also, they tend to be more expensive, with replacement costs ranging from $200 to $800 or more.

Vinyl Awnings

Vinyl awnings are made of laminated layers of vinyl with a fabric layer sandwiched in between. They are waterproof and excellent at blocking sunlight, making them ideal for hot and rainy climates.

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Awnings

One of the significant advantages of vinyl awnings is their affordability compared to acrylic ones.

They also offer better light-blocking capabilities. However, they lack breathability, which can cause heat buildup underneath the awning.

Furthermore, vinyl awnings are prone to mildew if they are rolled up while wet.

Fixed Awnings

Motorhome campground on South Padre Island, TX.

Fixed awnings, as the name suggests, are permanently attached to the RV.

They provide constant shade and protection from the elements, regardless of the weather conditions.

Pros and Cons of Fixed Awnings

Fixed awnings offer reliable and constant protection and shade, making them a great choice for those who frequently camp in one location.

However, their immobility can be a drawback for those who frequently travel to different locations.

Moreover, they are more susceptible to wind damage since they cannot be retracted during high winds.

Slide Out Awnings

Slide-out awnings are designed to cover the top of RV slide-outs. They protect the slide-out roof from debris and water accumulation, thus preventing potential leaks into the RV.

Pros and Cons of Slide-Out Awnings

Slide-out awnings play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity and longevity of your RV’s slide-outs.

They keep the slide-outs clean and reduce maintenance efforts. However, they can be difficult to replace due to their position on the RV, potentially leading to higher labor costs.

Automatic Awnings

Automatic awnings, also known as electric awnings, are operated with a simple push of a button, providing convenience and ease of use.

Pros and Cons of Automatic Awnings

Automatic awnings offer the ultimate convenience, especially for those who find manual operation challenging. Some models even come with wind sensors that automatically retract the awning in high winds.

However, they are more expensive than manual awnings and require a power source, which might not always be readily available in some camping locations.

FAQs about RV Awnings

What are the different types of camper awnings?

There are various types of camper awnings, including acrylic, vinyl, fixed, slide-out, and automatic awnings. Each type has its unique features, pros, and cons.

What type of awning is best for an RV?

The ‘best’ awning for an RV depends on the specific needs and preferences of the RV owner.

Factors such as climate, travel frequency, budget, and personal preference all play a part in determining the best awning.

How do I identify my RV awning?

Most RV awnings have a tag or label near the roller tube that provides information about the awning model and manufacturer. If not, the owner’s manual should provide this information.

What is the difference between vinyl and acrylic awnings?

Acrylic awnings are breathable and durable but don’t block light as effectively as vinyl awnings.

On the other hand, vinyl awnings are waterproof and excellent light blockers but lack breathability.

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