Best RV Awning: Extend Your Recreational Space
Protect your family from the elements with these RV awnings
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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON October 7, 2019
Are you looking to accessorize your recreational vehicle or travel trailer with a shade or awning? Then you need a reliable product that will offer a great protective canopy for your family during camping trips. Read our buying guide for some of the best RV awning structures currently on the market.
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Benefits of an RV Awning
- Provides shade. The best RV awning provides plenty of shade to keep you protected in all weather conditions. You can park in spots you like and enjoy the outdoors without worrying about strong winds or rain. You’ll be protected from UV rays as you relax outside your RV.
- Privacy. An RV awning enhances your privacy by shielding you from prying eyes when you’re out camping. Some awnings have walls that can boost privacy as you sleep, eat, or simply relax outdoors. If you want more privacy, get a three-sided RV awning or a side screen. Also, ensure the material is opaque.
- Extra room. An RV awning creates extra room for your children to play. The space is also ideal for exercising and burning some calories. The awning creates a great place to relax without feeling cramped.
Types of RV Awnings
These are simple RV awnings typically made from canvas. They are usually affordable and easy to maintain. They are installed under an RV’s roof and can be rolled out manually or mechanically when shade is needed. You have to unroll them regularly to prevent mold from growing.
These are permanently fixed above an RV’s doors or windows and provide coverage from the sun and rain. The awning’s position cannot be changed since it is permanently installed. However, these awnings have a tendency to fall, so check yours from time to time to ensure it is properly fixed.
Patio awnings are also known as sheltered awnings. They usually have frames made of metal. Some awnings are three-sided and can be tied down to create an extra room. You can use the extra room for relaxation by day and storage by night. However, patio awnings are more difficult to install and may have poor ventilation, especially if they have no windows.
These are easily adjustable and can be controlled remotely, saving you time. They are expensive but easy to use and maintain. Some come with a sensor that causes them to retract in extremely windy conditions. It’s worth mentioning that repairing them can be costly.
Best known for its tagline “Mobile Living Made Easy,” Dometic was launched in 1919 by two Swedish engineering students: Carl Munters and Baltzar von Platen. They are famous for inventing the Einstein and the Absorption refrigerators. In 1923, a Swedish company named Arctic acquired manufacturing rights to the refrigerators. The Arctic company was also acquired by Electrolux in 1925. The name Dometic was created in the 1960s when Electrolux renamed its leisure appliances division. Get the Dometic Sunchaser Awning for the next time you go camping.
Carefree of Colorado
Carefree of Colorado was founded in 1971 when the company launched the first automatic roll-up RV awning. The company solely focuses on designing and developing RV awnings and their accessories. Carefree creates innovative awnings for personal and professional use. It takes pride in creating great features like Bluetooth® wireless awning control, self-leveling retraction, motion-based wind protection, and One-Touch™ operation. The Carefree Black RV Awning EZ ZipBlocker attests to the company’s expertise.
This company was established in May 1956 by Larry Lippert and Don Baldwin, who later sold his shares to Lippert. It was called B&L back then and its first product was galvanized roofing for RVs. In 1958, Larry Lippert acquired Riverdale Steel Works, a company that manufactured RV structures and their components. The two companies merged to form Lippert Components Inc. in 1969. In 1997, the company began a travel trailer chassis line and was acquired by Drew Industries. The Solera awning line was introduced in 2011. If you’re an avid camper, get the Solera V000163285 White Slide Topper Awning for your RV.
RV Awning Pricing
- Under $200: These RV awnings are generally inexpensive and most are manually operated. Awning replacement fabrics with no arms or roller assemblies are also found in this category.
- $200-$800: In this price range, there are higher-quality RV awnings with more accessories. Some come with all the accessories while others come without rollers and arms.
- $800 and up: These are high-end RV awnings—like electric and automated ones. Electric RV awnings use electric motors to extend and retract.
The fabric of your RV awning determines how long it will last. Choose it based on how much time you spend outdoors. Awnings can be made from acrylic, polyester, or vinyl. Polyester is a lightweight fabric that’s easy to maintain and dries up quickly. Vinyl is a tougher fabric that’s ideal for harsh winter weather. But the best RV awnings are made from acrylic because it’s breathable, highly durable, and resistant to UV rays. However, it’s more expensive.
The size of your RV awning is influenced by the RV’s dimensions and how much space you need outdoors. To avoid buying an awning that’s too large or too small, measure your RV. The awning should be ½ or ⅓ of your RV’s length. You can check the manufacturer’s manual for awning measurements. This will ensure you get the best fit. Some RVs come with awnings while others don’t.
Ease of Installation
The best RV awning is user-friendly and comes with simple instructions for easy installation. Get an awning with universal fittings to make the installation process easier. You can also read user reviews to find out how easy the awning is to install. Some companies provide video tutorials showing how to assemble and use their awnings.
- Awning Crank. RV awnings can have manual or motorized cranks. Manual awnings use pull outs or cranks to extend and retract. The crank is usually stored in the RV when not in use. It extends and retracts the awning in less than a minute. Motorized cranks open and close the awnings at the push of a button. Some have remote controls so you can open them from a short distance away.
- Intended Use. The best RV awning for you will depend on when you camp outdoors, how long you do it, and where you do it. Your traveling needs and preferences should also determine the RV awning you choose. If you like to go into the wild for days or weeks, an electric awning may not be the best because it needs power to work.
- Appearance. RV awnings come in a variety of colors and designs. The arms and roller assemblies may be colored white or black. Some awnings create entire rooms while others just offer protection from the sun. Do a little research and pick an awning that complements your RV.
Best RV Awning Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions on how to clean your RV shade to avoid damaging the fabric. Alternatively, you could use soap and water to clean the fabric and then air dry it. Never use a scrubber as you may remove the waterproof coating.
- Use a de-flapper clamp to keep your awning from flipping and tearing off in windy weather. You can also use stabilizer kits to pull the tension straps and spiral stakes to keep the awning anchored to the ground.
- Regularly inspect the awning for any signs of wear or tear. Repair tears immediately to prevent further damage. Ensure that the bracket support and lag screws are securely mounted, and lubricate all the metal parts to prevent rust.
Q: How long do RV awnings last?
A: It depends on the quality of the fabric and how often you use the material. With the right annual maintenance, an awning can last up to 10 years if it's not a permanent structure on your RV. Leaving your awning unattended, especially in windy or hot regions, will drastically reduce the unit's lifespan.
Q: How do you keep mildew from permeating the awning fabric?
A: You need to hose down your awning regularly to remove mildew. Also, ensure that the fabric is dry before folding it for storage. If you don't plan on using the awning for a few months, consider airing it outside in the sun for a few hours before putting it in storage. Never leave the awning unattended since it can increase the chance of mildew formation.
Q: How do I stop my awning from pooling?
A: Pooling happens when water accumulates on the awning and forces a depression on the fabric to accumulate more water. The only way to stop the depression from forming is to slant the awning in one direction to allow water droplets to roll off. You can do that by lowering the arms of the awning on one side to create a slope.
Our top pick is the Sunwave Awning Fabric Ocean Blue Fade. It can attach to the existing awning frame on your RV and will protect you from harsh weather.
If you are looking for an affordable awning to replace your worn out awning, then consider the Aleko Vinyl RV Awning Replacement Fabric. It can attach on both retractable and manual awning frames.