Awning Buying Guide

ABOUT THE AWNING

THE BIG QUESTION: WHICH TYPE OF AWNING IS COMPATIBLE WITH YOUR VEHICLE?

Awnings are either fitted to the roof or wall of a vehicle. Which method is suitable depends on the following three factors:

  1. The amount of room above the vehicle’s doors and windows.
  2. The shape of the vehicle’s side where it converges with the roof.
  3. The mounting brackets available for your vehicle.

Curved edges are suitable for roof fittings. Whereas a squared edge with sufficient room above the door will accommodate a wall mounting. In either case, suitable mounting brackets are also required. Your vehicle’s length will determine the size of the awning.

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AUTOMATIC OR MANUAL AWNING?

Ultimately, this comes down to individual preferences and the amount of space available on your vehicle for mounting. We outline key details below:

Automatic Awning

Benefit - It is quick and easy! At the click of a button, the awning will open or close within 35 secs.

Disadvantage - You lose genuine freedom of travel because you’re reliant on power. Although automatic awnings do have a manual override function: use of this can be inconvenient as often the awning must be dismantled to access parts required for manual operation.

Manual Awning

Benefit - You have freedom to travel to the remotest destinations! No reliance on power, so no limitations.

Disadvantage - It takes on average 10-12 minutes to deploy a manual awning. For some people this may be a problem, particularly if the awning is frequently deployed and stowed over a short period of time.

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SUPPORTED OR SELF-SUPPORTED AWNING?

Consider the following when deciding to purchase a supported or self-supported awning:

Supported

  • Available with automatic and manual deployment;
  • Awning legs staked into the ground make it more robust in windy conditions;
  • Weather kits containing elasticated straps can be used to tension the lead rail and further secure the awning’s position;
  • Its multiple, independent mounting brackets require a seal or rain guard to fully protect against rainwater running down the side of the vehicle;
  • Challenging for one person to deploy or stow away – ideally a two-person job!

Self-supported

  • Only available with automatic deployment;
  • Requires mounting within the structure of the vehicle which must, therefore, be able to support the weight of the awning;
  • As the lead rail “hangs” in mid-air it is more susceptible to movement in the wind;
  • A wind sensor is always fitted and a weather kit with support legs and tie-down straps is provided to secure the awning when open
  • Its continuous, flush mounting means there are no gaps for rainwater to run through;
  • Can easily be deployed and stowed away by one person
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THE FIVE TYPES OF AWNING

There are five types of awning available: patio, cassette, window, door and slide topper. Below we explain the features and purpose of each: 

Patio Awning

A patio awning extends from the side of your vehicle to provide a shaded area and extend the vehicle’s living space. The use of a support arm means patio awnings have limited headspace at the sides. The awning’s hardware and rolling tube remain visible which some people consider less attractive than the enclosed cassette design. The length can be adapted in 1 inch increments to exactly match the RV’s length – maximizing the shade available! Maximum length: 21 ft (motor) or 25 ft (crank).

 

Cassette Awning

Like the patio awning, it provides extensive cover across the length of your vehicle. One key advantage is that the hardware of a cassette awning is hidden from view giving a neater appearance. Unlike the patio awning, there’s no support arm limiting headspace at the sides; support instead runs along the underside of the awning, almost forming part of the fabric itself. However, cassette awnings are less flexible when it comes to length: 8 ft, 10 ft, 12 ft, 14 ft, 15 ft and 16 ft set lengths for both motor and crank operated awnings.

 

Window Awning

The window awning covers individual windows or multiple windows which are located next to each other. They are ideal for warmer climates as the shading of the vehicle’s interior helps to cool the temperature; plus it allows windows to be left open in the rain.

 

Door Awning

Primarily used for larger vehicles when a primary awning is not wide enough to cover the door or if there’s insufficient space above the door for mounting a wider awning. Useful for providing weather protection when exiting the vehicle or searching for keys to unlock the door!

 

Slide Topper

Does your vehicle have a slide-out room? A slide topper awning protects the roof of your extendable room from collecting leaves and other debris. Without a slide topper awning, when the room retracts inside your vehicle, so too will any debris! Use a slide topper and avoid creating a mess.

DO YOU WANT A SPECIFIC ACCESSORY? ENSURE YOUR AWNING IS COMPATIBLE

The vast majority of awning accessories such as lights and rooms work equally well across all types of awning. However, as the list below highlights, certain products require specific types of awning. So if you have your heart set on a specific accessory, ensure you purchase the appropriate awning:

Veranda Room - Only compatible with patio awnings

Camp Room - Only compatible with supported cassette awnings

My Room - Only compatible with self-supported wall awnings

Annex Wall System - Only compatible with manual patio awning

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ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO SET UP?

If you’re staying somewhere for a short period of time or want to react quickly to a sudden change in weather, you may appreciate the quick action of an automatic awning. Don’t forget to factor in the amount of time needed for deploying any accessories, such as a Camp Room:

Automatic: 35 secs to deploy / stow away

Manual: 10-12 mins to deploy / stow away

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WILL YOU NEED TO SET UP WORKING ALONE?

If you want the ability to set up your awning alone, you’re better off having a self-supported awning. Self-supported awnings are always operated automatically – at the simple click of a button! Although possible, it’s far harder to deploy a supported awning working alone.

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HOW LONG WILL YOU LEAVE YOUR AWNING OPEN?

The length of time an awning will be left open often impacts how people feel about the set-up time. So consider how long you will tend to leave the awning open for: does 12 minutes deploying a manual awning appear more effort than it’s worth? Perhaps an automatic awning that opens in seconds is more suited to your usage needs. That’s not lazy, it’s simply being realistic!

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DO YOU WANT TO TRAVEL TO REMOTE DESTINATIONS?

Many of us like to use our RVs to escape the world and travel to remote spots, far from civilisation. If you are one of those people, then a manual awning is the ideal choice for you as it has no reliance on power. This means you’ll also be buying a supported awning, as self-supported models are only available with automatic operation. But if you’re someone who wants to get lost in the middle of nowhere, away from shops and power sources: we’re guessing you won’t mind deploying your awning manually!

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CLIMATE CONDITIONS: WIND, TEMPERATURE, RAIN AND STORM

We advise all types of awnings be stowed away in wind and rain. Remember: “awnings are for shade not shelter”.

Wind:

  • Supported awnings offer better resistance against wind and may further benefit from a weather kit containing elasticated straps to secure them.
  • Self-supported awnings, on the other hand, are more susceptible to wind. A weather kit with support legs and tie down straps is provided to secure the awning in its open position.
  • Automatic awnings are helpfully fitted with a wind sensor that automatically closes the awning when wind causes too much movement to the lead rail.

Temperature:

  • All awnings are tested to reliably function within a range of +40 ˚C to -20 ˚C. So unless you’re staying in the Simpson Desert or the Perisher Valley, you should have nothing to worry about!

Rain:

  • The multiple, independent brackets of a supported awning mean they require a seal or rain guard to fully protect against rainwater running down the side of the vehicle.
  • The continuous, flush mounting of self-supported awnings mean that there are no gaps for rainwater to run through!
  • The speedy deployment of an automatic awning would certainly be appreciated in sudden cases of rain.

Storm:

  • If storm clouds are on the horizon, you will want to pack up as quickly as possible and take shelter inside your vehicle. An automatic awning means you’ll be safely inside in less than a minute!