5 RV Awning Types: Choose the Best for Your Camper Experience

Different RV awning types include manual and automatic options, each with pros and cons. Acrylic awnings offer airflow but may not be best for heavy rain, while vinyl awnings are waterproof and easy to clean. Awnings enhance camping by providing extra space and protection from the elements, adding style to your RV. Choose the right size based on your RV and needs, and maintain it properly to ensure longevity.

Camper trailer set up with awnings out at a campsite at Jordan Lake

If you’re an avid camper or a proud recreational vehicle (RV) owner, you’ll know that an important feature of your mobile abode is the awning.

An RV awning provides shade during sunny days, shelter during rains, and essentially extends the living space of your RV.

But did you know that there are different types of RV awnings? Did you know that they come in various sizes and materials?

An RV awning is a cover made from durable fabric that’s attached to the side of an RV. It can be extended or retracted as needed.

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They either operate manually, requiring ropes and pulleys for adjustment, or electrically, extending and retracting at the push of a button.

While seemingly a simple part of your RV, choosing the right awning can greatly enhance your camping experience.

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Types of Retractable RV Awnings

Manual Awnings

RV Motorhome Awning Extending by Caucasian Camper in His 30s. Travel Industry.

Manual awnings, as the name suggests, require physical effort to extend and retract. This type of awning is known for its durability and affordability.

Manual awnings also don’t require a power source to operate, which makes them ideal for boondocking or off-grid camping.

However, they require more work to open and close which can be a bit of a hassle, especially during unexpected weather changes.

Automatic Awnings

Both awnings fully extended on a camper trailer at a forested campsite

On the other hand, automatic or electric awnings offer the convenience of deployment with just the push of a button.

Some even have sensors that automatically retract the awning during high winds.

However, they cost more than manual awnings and require power to operate. Installation may also be more complicated compared to manual awnings.

Subtypes of RV Awnings

Acrylic Awnings

Campervan with awning and air awning and camping table with chairs at campsite

Acrylic awnings are made of woven fabric which allows air to circulate, reducing heat build-up under the awning. This fabric is also resistant to fading and mildew.

Handling Different Weather Conditions with Acrylic Awnings

Acrylic awnings perform well under sunny conditions due to their UV resistance. However, because the fabric is porous, it might not provide the best protection during heavy rains.

Vinyl Awnings

RV Trailer with awning extended in  Watchman Campground, Zion National Park, with mountains and blue sky background

Vinyl awnings, on the other hand, are waterproof making them great for rainy climates. They are also easy to clean, which is a big plus if you frequently camp in dusty areas.

Handling Different Weather Conditions with Vinyl Awnings

As mentioned, vinyl awnings are waterproof so they perform well during rains. However, they may not be as effective as acrylic awnings when it comes to heat reduction.

Benefits of Using RV Awnings

Enhancing Your Camping Experience

Awnings can make your camping experience more comfortable by providing additional outdoor living space.

Whether it’s for enjoying meals outside, socializing with fellow campers, or simply relaxing with a good book, an awning can definitely enhance your camping experience.

Protection from Weather Elements

Apart from providing extra space, awnings also offer protection from the elements. They provide shade against the sun’s intense heat, shelter from the rain, and even serve as a barrier against strong winds.

Adding Aesthetic Value to Your RV

Florianópolis, SC, Brazil - November 6, 2014: view of the motorhome parked circus, with various objects and household items.

Lastly, awnings can add aesthetic value to your RV. With a variety of colors and patterns available, you can choose one that matches your RV’s exterior or your personal style.

How to Choose the Right RV Awning Size

Proportioning Based on RV Size

The size of your awning should be proportionate to your RV size. A too-small awning might not provide enough coverage, while a too-large one might not fit properly.

Measure the area where you plan to install the awning and consult the manufacturer’s recommendations or your owner’s manual for guidance.

The Purpose of Your Awning

Consider the primary purpose of your awning. If you plan to use it as an extra outdoor living space, a larger awning might be necessary.

But if you just need it for occasional shade or shelter, a smaller one might suffice.

Maintaining Your RV Awning

Cleaning Techniques Based on Material Type

The cleaning techniques for your awning will depend on its material. For acrylic awnings, it’s best to brush off loose dirt before it becomes embedded in the fabric and to avoid using soap as much as possible.

For vinyl awnings, you can use a mild soap solution and rinse thoroughly afterward.

Necessary Precautions for Different Weather Conditions

Always retract your awning during strong winds or storms to prevent damage.

During sunny days, regularly check for UV damage and consider using an awning protector. When storing, ensure that the awning is completely dry to avoid mold and mildew.

Storing Your Awning Safely

When it’s time to hit the road again or store your RV for a while, ensure that your awning is properly retracted and secured. Use awning straps or locks for added security.

FAQs about RV Awnings

How do I roll up my RV awning?

For manual awnings, release the lever and slowly let the awning roll up. For electric awnings, simply press the retract button and make sure it rolls up evenly.

Is it OK to roll up a wet awning?

It’s best to avoid rolling up a wet awning to prevent mold and mildew growth. If you can’t avoid it, make sure to unroll it as soon as possible to allow it to dry.

At what wind speed should I roll up my RV awning?

As a general rule, retract your awning when wind speeds reach 20 mph or if the awning starts to flap violently.

When should I roll up my RV awning?

Aside from windy conditions, you should also roll up your awning during rainstorms, when leaving your campsite, or when storing your RV.

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