The Best RV Sunshade Awnings in 2020
Comparisons, Guide, and Reviews
The front porch is a natural meeting place, combining the indoors and the outdoors. You’re sitting in your own space while enjoying the view and able to interact with those passing by. It also extends your living space at relatively little cost. You don’t have to give up this experience when you move into an RV. The best RV awning allows you to replicate the sheltered area on your front or back porch while still allowing you to pack up and head out.
Top 3 Best Rated RV Awnings - Comparison
4.7 out of 5
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Here are the Top 13 Best RV Awning Full Reviews
We’ve described what to look for in an RV awning and the factors you should consider when shopping for one. We’ve reviewed the products on the market today and curated a list of the top 13 RV awnings for you to choose from.
01) Carefree Model 701508 Black 15' x 8' Drop RV Awning
Editor Rating: 4.7 Out of 5
This black awning “drop” is not a formal RV awning. Instead, it is an addition that fits on almost all awnings. It lets you create a shaded area that also blocks insects flying in from that direction, though it doesn’t turn the entire area into an enclosure.
The open black weave blocks out around 85 percent of the light. There are two separate pieces in this RV drop. One piece is permanently attached to the awning.
The other can be disconnected from the “drop” via a zipper. This may let you hang the awning just as far down as required.
This RV awning drop can fit in the slot your awning rolls into, so it can retract with the rest of the awning when it is rolled up. You can also unzip the inserts or take it down and store it. The awning “drop” can be held down with spikes and tie downs that come with it. It even has a carry bag.
This awning drop can be combined with “side blocks” that do turn the awning into an enclosure. Those are sold separately.
The top portion generally stays permanently in the awning frame and can roll up with it. However, the 15 foot shade is sometimes off by a couple of inches. In these cases, it tends to go long. This means that there may be a short “tail” to the awning once you roll it up.
This will be prone to damage as it flops around in the wind, and that can generate a lot of noise while you travel.
02) SunWave Brand RV Awning, Ocean Blue Fabric, 18'
Editor Rating: 4.6 Out of 5
This blue and white awning is stylish and fits almost any RV’s color scheme. The heavy duty vinyl is going to resist sun and rain for years. It is roughly 17 feet long, making it suitable for an 18 foot long RV.
The fabric is 17 feet, 2 to 3 inches long. Better yet, it is lightweight. It weighs about one pound. Note that they’re only selling the fabric, not the awning and its support beams.
You can connect this RV awning to rollers or support rails. If you own an RV awning frame by A&E, Dometic, Carefree, and Carter models, this is a direct replacement for your existing awning. It comes with both cords and straps. You can use Carefree model awning installation tools with this awning if necessary. Note that this tool is sold separately from this RV awning.
It is hard to thread the second groove of your RV awning support. This means it is hard to install in many cases. In fact, too much pressure trying to get it in place can result in holes. Yet the thing ships tightly coiled, so you have to be careful unpacking it and installing it.
03) Shade Pro Brand Vinyl Awning, Slate Blue Fade 16 Foot
Editor Rating: 4.5 Out of 5
This awning is made of vinyl, and more importantly, it is 3 ply vinyl. This makes it water-proof. It is also incredibly lightweight. It weighs just a few pounds. Yet it is durable. The material is able to resist wind damage and hail better than average.
This RV awning is designed for sixteen foot long RVs. The awning is 15 feet, 2 inches long. This awning is designed to be a direct replacement for Carefree, A&E brand, and Lippert RV awnings. This is possible because this is just the fabric for the awning, not the awning material plus the supports.
The dark blue color with a white top can blend in to almost any RV’s color scheme. The vinyl is treated with chemicals that make it move very smoothly through the rollers. This RV awning is easy to install.
However, the size and slipperiness of the material means you’ll probably want two people to do it. The sheer amount of silicone spray also results in it being slippery. In some cases, there is also an odor, but that is rarely an issue.
04) SunWave Brand Awning, Ocean Blue Fade Fabric, 16'
Editor Rating: 4.4 Out of 5
We mentioned that the best awning is the one that literally fits your RV. This one is a 16 foot awning, whereas the first SunWave brand awning on our list is 18 feet.
That makes this the better choice for 16 foot long awnings. The actual length is 15 feet and 2 to three inches. It has a roughly eight foot projection.
Like the first model, it has a dark blue color scheme with white on the top. It is stylish without being garish. For example, it allows your RV to stand out from the crowd and even makes it easier to see when hiking in comparison to a white, gray or black awning.
This awning has a strong layer of vinyl, making it water-resistant to water-proof. However, that weather seal isn’t slippery, and there is no real plastic odor.
Like the other Sunwave brand awning, it has weak seams or even ships without reinforced seams. This leaves it prone to holes and rips at that point. It doesn’t always ship with the holes and cords needed to extend it. Unlike Carefree brand awnings, you can’t buy replacement pull-ties and straps.
The awning has installation instructions, but they are minimal. You probably want to watch online videos to explain how to install it or ask the pros to install it for you.
05) Shade Pro Brand RV Vinyl Awning, Charcoal Fade, 18 Feet
Editor Rating: 4.5 Out of 5
We mentioned the value of awnings that don’t show the dirt and smoke stains. This Shade Pro brand awning does exactly that thanks to the rich, deep gray color.
The black bottom two thirds of the awning fades to grey and white at the top.
This does mean that it will show dirt and debris that falls off the RV roof, but it will hide the smoke stains from your cigarette break under the tarp and the greasy residue from your barbecue grill.
This model is a direct replacement for many 18 foot long Carefree, A&E, and Lippert brand RV awnings. The actual length is 17 feet and 2 to 3 inches. Note that you’re just getting the vinyl, not supporting arms or anything else. It has a roughly eight foot projection.
This model has thick, three-ply vinyl. It is water-proof and durable. Conversely, it doesn’t support much air flow or let fumes pass through.
06) Solera Brand Universal Fit Heavy-Duty Vinyl Awning, Replacement Fabric Blue Fade 17'
Editor Rating: 4.3 Out of 5
This RV awning is the replacement fabric only. Listed as 17 feet wide, it contains 16' 4" of fabric.
The manufacturer calls it a universal fit RV awning. It is made for Solera brand RV awning frames, but it also fits Carefree and Domestic brand awnings.
Since it is made entirely of vinyl, it is water-proof. Not only is the material leak-proof, but the seams are water-proof, too. It won’t leak water on you when you’re standing beneath the edge.
More importantly, it is heavy-duty, so it resists punctures and tears better than the alternatives. This RV awning is notable for being made to stand up to literally freezing weather. It won’t break up at -25 degrees F.
One of the unique features of this awning is the light track. This RV awning doesn’t come with built-in LED lights. However, it is compatible with the Solera brand fabric light kit. Then you don’t have to hang lights but just let them roll out with the awning.
The only major issue is the installation. This is made harder than it has to be due to the vague instructions. There isn’t any information on how to install it if you have a powered awning.
07) INNOVA Brand Vinyl Awning, Replacement Fabric - Pacific Blue, 20’
Editor Rating: 4.4 Out of 5
We’ve mentioned that the best RV awning is the one that fits the frame and the vehicle. This 20 foot awning is perfect for longer vehicles.
The fabric is 19 feet, 2 inches wide, allowing it to span very long travel trailers. This RV awning material is compatible with A&E brand, Carefree and Faulkner awnings.
This is one of the few models on the market compatible with Faulkner awning frames.
Otherwise, this is one of the best options on the market for longer vehicles. Installation is neither hard nor easy. The instructions provided are acceptable. The product is notable for providing an extra pull strap.
The fabric is thin material, but it is four ply with reinforced seams. It won’t leak water at the edges. One of the downsides of this model is the colorant used to create the deep blue that fades to white. It sometimes smudges through no fault of the owner.
Another issue is how thin the four ply material is. While it is water-resistant, it isn’t puncture-resistant.
08) Carefree Brand Beige Brown Replacement Canopy/Fabric for a 16' Awning
Editor Rating: 4.0 Out of 5
This is a Carefree brand RV awning, though it is the fabric only. It is made for 16 foot awnings. It is heavy. Also, this is of average durability.
One point in favor of this model is the color. Light beige or tan blends in with almost any vehicle’s color scheme. Unlike a white awning, it hides light dirt and starting mold growth well.
However, it is light enough in color to reflect a lot of sunlight, preventing the area underneath from getting too hot. The unit is easy to install with two people, though the task is more difficult with just one person due to the size.
One of the only downsides is that it is not made to work with other manufacturer’s awnings.
09) Solera Model V000182037 Black 10' 6" Slide Topper Awning
Editor Rating: 4.2 Out of 5
The 10' 1" fabric is designed for 10 foot 6 inch awnings. This is the size for smaller travel trailers or awnings that only shade a picture window.
However, this awning is designed specifically as a slide topper. Prevent debris from landing on the top of the RV and getting caught in the frame when you retract the extended cab.
The side topper awning will also protect the seals and mechanical components that allow you to extend and retract the side cab of the RV.
Note that the fabric only extends 48 inches, though the description says it can go 50 inches. This is a Solera brand fabric awning. It may fit in similarly sized Lippert brand awnings, but this is hit-and-miss. Fortunately, for Solera frames, it is easy to install.
The solera RV awnings sometimes ship with little holes in them that compromise the entire awning. If you notice this, the company doesn’t help. There are also periodic complaints of it coming without all the necessary hardware or incomplete sealing. These issues are infrequent but raise concerns about quality.
When the topper material roughens on exposure to the elements, it can be hard to retract the slide out portion of the RV. It offers some protection, but it isn’t as resilient as some thick vinyl awnings. Expect to replace it after a few months of heavy use.
10) ALEKO Brand RVAW16X8BLUE24 Retractable RV Awning 16 x 8 Feet, Blue Fade
Editor Rating: 4.3 Out of 5
Aleko makes easy to use, non-powered awnings. Their RV awnings are known for opening and closing in seconds via the pull strap on the awning.
You’re going to be hard pressed to find an Aleko compatible awning, and that’s why we included this one on our list.
Note that it is only really compatible with Aleko brand awnings.
This awning is so wide that it can be used at home to cover your patio as well as shelter the side of your vehicle. It is a whopping 16 feet long, and it is 8 feet deep. The fabric’s size is 15 feet 2 inches.
This awning is brightly colored, and it will retain that color thanks to the built-in UV resistance. It is also mold and water resistant. Note that it is not water proof. The fabric is durable and strong.
One downside of this awning is how hard it is to install. The instructions are hard to understand. That’s in sharp contrast to how easy it is to operate.
11) Solera Brand Universal Fit Heavy-Duty Vinyl RV Patio Awning, Replacement Fabric Only, Solid Black, 15 Foot Awning
Editor Rating: 4.4 Out of 5
This 15 foot awning is 14 feet and 4 inches wide. Note that this awning is made to fit any of the 15 foot Solera brand awning, so don’t try to use it with other RV awning frames. We’ll say this is the best awning for 15 foot Solera models, whether they were made last year or ten years old.
The fabric is durable vinyl. It is water proof, while some other awnings on our list are merely water resistant.
Make sure the awning is allowed to dry out before you roll it up, since the awning could trap the water as it is rolled up. That will foster mold growth and even rust your coils.
However, that’s a problem you encounter with any water-proof RV awning.
The jet black fabric fits in with almost any décor. One downside is that it ends up heating up at the end of a long day. Conversely, the black fabric won’t show dirt, debris or stains. Solera also has reinforced seams, something other brands don’t bother to do. Some of the Solera RV awnings have built-in track lights, but this model doesn’t.
Installation can be a challenge. The installation instructions are minimal. And the task is hard to do as a do-it-yourselfer without help. Expect this to be a two person job.
12) SunWave Brand Awning, Ocean Blue Fade, 15 Foot
Editor Rating: 4.3 Out of 5
This SunWave brand 15 foot awning is a cloth awning with vinyl weather shield. It is weather resistant. The approximate fabric width is 14 feet and 2 to 3 inches. It is designed for a 15 foot awning.
The stylish blue fabric makes your RV easy to spot from a distance, while the white upper edge will match most RV’s color schemes.
The white and blue fabric also reflects sunlight, keeping you cool while the sun is beating down. The awning has a standard 8 inch projection to add some shade. It has a 0.25 inch poly cord for installing on rails and three sixteenths inch poly cord for a roller tube.
This means you can set it up on both manually controlled awnings and a fair number of powered awnings that will roll up at the push of a button. It has a built-in pull strap, too.
A biggest point in favor of this SunWave RV awning
One of the biggest points in favor of this SunWave brand RV awning is that it works on a number of brands. It is compatible with Dometic, A&E, Carter and Carefree brand manual awnings. This awning can be installed with the SunWave branded installation tool, but that isn’t necessary.
One point in favor of this model is that replacement pull straps and other items are available from Sunwave.
What's the Downside for this RV Awning?
The only serious issue is the fact that the cording for the main canopy isn’t sewn into it. You have to push the fabric into the roller and feed it. That isn’t easy to do. It is easy to scrape up your new awning during this process.
Fortunately, you only have to do this once. Unfortunately, this process has left more than one person with streaks or little tears in their brand new awning if they didn’t watch online how-to videos to supplement the poor quality installation instructions.
Sunwave doesn’t reinforce other seams on their fabric awnings, and this can prevent it from having crisp edges when it is extended.
13) Shade Pro Brand RV Vinyl Awning Replacement Fabric, Slate Blue Fade, 14 Foot
Editor Rating: 4.6 Out of 5
This vinyl fabric awning by Shade Pro is 13 feet, 2 inches wide. That makes it a fit for 14 foot wide awnings. The dark blue fabric fades to light blue at the top.
This material hides dirt, debris and smoke stains better than the ocean blue to wide awnings by Sun Wave.
More importantly, the fabric isn’t so dark that it ends up absorbing heat and making things uncomfortable if it is in the sun all day.
This awning is compatible with Carefree, Lippert and Carefree brand awing supports.
The Shade Pro awning has heavy three ply fabric. This may make it heavier, but it is also incredibly durable. It will resist punctures and other damage better than almost anything else on our list. It is less prone to flapping in the wind, but it can be damaged by sudden jerks and flapping freely behind a running vehicle.
The most fragile piece of the awning is the pull strap you use to deploy it, and the manufacturer provides a replacement one free with the awning. The pull strap is compatible with replacement parts by Carefree.
This awning can be hard to get into the holding brackets on the camper when you install it.
What is an RV Awning Actually?
An RV awning is a weather-proof extension. You can roll it out and create a sun-shade or de facto rain tarp. The RV awning can be set at a variety of angles and lengths, allowing you to protect your grill, the extended cab of the RV or a large seating area. A few models simply provide protection for the area by the RV door.
The RV awning won’t serve as a full shelter, but that’s not necessary because the entire purpose of the RV. Instead, the RV lets you sit outside in the shade or work outside without being fully exposed to the elements.
This could give you a sheltered place to sit while the kids or pets play outside. It could give you a place to barbeque, sort laundry or leave items outside to air out while protecting them from the worst of the elements.
How Does an RV Awning Work?
An awning is simply a piece of cloth or tarp that extends beyond a building. It may give you a permanent shaded area for diners, or it may provide protection for windows. In the case of windows, the awning prevents bird poop and hail from damaging it. Depending on the RV awning you buy, it could provide the same protection for your RV windows or protect the entire RV on one side.
Note that there are RV awnings designed specifically to protect RV windows; that may be a worthwhile investment if you have a large picture window on the side or back of the RV.
An RV awning is an awning designed to work with the RV. When rolled up, it is generally a tube mounted on the top of the RV. This minimizes drag while giving you easy access to it. Pull the long tarp or plastic sheet out and use poles in either the ground or attached to the RV to hold it in place.
Now it resembles a tent, except that you don’t have to do nearly as work to set it up or take it down.
Several helpfulness to setting up the awning
There are several benefits to setting up the awning. It creates a sheltered area around the door to the RV. Now you aren’t getting wet as you fumble for your keys. Your dog could run outside in the sheltered area under the awning, though they’d be afraid to go outside if it meant running into the snow or rain.
It becomes much easier to empty waste tanks or cook on the grill outside if you aren’t subject to a beating by the sun or the rain. It significantly extends your living space. Window awnings and RV awnings may significantly reduce heat gain in the summer. For example, when you have awnings on a building, it reduces heat gain by 50 to 60 percent. You’re essentially carrying your own shade for the RV.
However, the awning won’t interfere in air flow. This helps you stay cool in the summer while minimizing the energy required to do so. Adjustable awnings could block both the rising and setting sun, allowing you to minimize heat and maximize natural light.
Awning range of Sizes and Styles
Awnings come in a wide range of sizes and styles. They can be anywhere from 8 to 25 feet long. Most awnings have an 8 foot height, but you can find awnings as high as your vehicle. You can choose from a wide variety of colors, materials and styles.
You don’t want to choose a cheap awning, because it will cost you over the long run. The RV awnings are capable of surviving a single hail storm and years of weathering.
A few models can be controlled via a remote control. Then you can extend the awning at the push of a button, though you have to be careful to close it, too, before you start driving.
The Benefits of Using an RV Awning
RV awnings give you the ability to create a front porch of sorts. Extend your awning, and you’ve created a sheltered outdoor space for work and play. However, there are a number of benefits to an RV awning. We’ll explain the benefits of having the perfect awning on your RV and the reasons to use an awning over trying to carry a tarp around.
One of the biggest benefits to an RV awning is the protection it provides you and your vehicle. It protects the side of the RV from sun, rain and hail. Whether it reduces the odds the paint fades from sun exposure or shelters you from the rain while you’re getting in and out of the vehicle depends on the weather that day. It can also protect you from falling leaves and minor debris.
All of this is beneficial when you’re trying to light up a grill or supervise pets and children playing outside.
Depending on the type of RV awning you choose, you may be able to pull it down over the window to provide extra protection from hail, sleet and flying debris.
An awning can increase your privacy. This is especially true for awnings over picture windows and doors. It is harder for others to look in, though you’re able to look out. If you’re putting laundry out to dry or working in the shade, your possessions aren’t as visible and are thus less likely to be stolen.
03. Shade from Sun
Shade from the sun benefits you and your RV in a number of ways. It becomes easier to sit outside and enjoy nature watching though the sun is beating down. The Awning may shade the RV itself, too. That significantly reduces how much the RV is heated up by the sun in the afternoon. That may allow you to reduce your need for air conditioning or reduce how long you need to run the generator to power the air conditioner.
A side benefit of an RV awning is that it is easier to work outside. Do you need to change a tire? Do you want to have the kids play outside? Both tasks are easier when you always have shade at your disposal.
The main benefit of awnings over tarps is that they’re permanently connected to the RV. There’s less set up. Furthermore, there is no chance you’ll accidentally leave them behind or lose them. You can choose the type of material used in the awning to maximize its performance in terms of weather-resistance or strength.
For example, you could choose an awning specifically for its ability to reflect sunlight away from the vehicle.
Extend your RV awning, and it shows that you are “home” in the RV, reducing the odds that your vehicle is targeted for theft. The side benefit of the awning is that it is attached to the RV. It can’t be stolen like a tarp.
Roll out a carpet or mat under the awning, and you’ve created a large, comfortable outdoor space like a front porch. This is a convenient place to relax, while it lets you pull your kids away from their devices and outside.
It also attracts visitors for socializing, and you can do so without bringing them into the rather cramped RV.
How Many Types of RV Awning Are There?
While awnings share a common purpose, there are actually a variety of RV awnings out there. We’ll outline the major types of RV awnings and the characteristics of each.
We’ll also explain the cases where the different types of RV awnings overlap.
01. Acrylic Awnings
An acrylic RV awning is made from acrylic fabric. They resist water but are not water-proof. However, they don’t fade in the sun, and they resist mildew. This is a big point in its favor when you are in a humid environment that will rot canvas and cotton.
Acrylic awnings might be coated with vinyl to make them waterproof. Acrylic fabric can last five to ten years.
You can find clear acrylic awnings and colored acrylic RV awnings. A side benefit of acrylic awnings is that it can include cotton-polyester fabric coated in acrylic. These awnings can come in a wide array of colors and styles, but it is more durable than a cloth awning.
Metal awnings are more durable, but they’re not commonly used on RVs due to their weight.
02. Vinyl Awnings
Vinyl awnings come in two types: coated and laminated. Laminated vinyl is the most common awning fabric. It is strong. It is water proof. Without these, It is durable, resisting cracks and rips on exposure to the wind. Coated vinyl is more durable and of higher quality.
As an added bonus, it is quite stain resistant. Sometimes a “vinyl” awning is really a cotton fabric coated with vinyl. The vinyl will help it resist high humidity. However, they won’t last as long as solid vinyl awnings.
All vinyl fabrics are low maintenance. However, they aren’t as flexible as materials like canvas. This can result in tears if it is allowed to fly freely in the wind or is jerked hard. Vinyl awnings don’t come in as many colors as cotton and other materials, as well.
The vinyl on the awning also means it doesn’t breathe or let as much air in. On the flip side, vinyl is inherently fire retardant. That’s a major point in its favor if you want to barbecue or cook under the awning.
In theory, vinyl awnings can last up to ten years.
03. Fixed Awnings
A fixed awning is one mounted on a welded metal frame. The metal frame is, as the name implies, fixed in its location. It may be mounted over a doorway, patio or window. The frame may support a durable fabric or metal awning.
The benefits of fixed awnings include greater durability and strength. The permanent frame will withstand casual blows and remain in place in the face of high winds.
One downside is that you can’t change the awning’s style. If it is concave, domed or convex, you can’t change it. And any awning cover you make must fit that frame.
Very large awnings may require support brackets or legs, and this could affect the maneuverable width of your RV.
04. Slide Out Awnings
Slide out awnings are typically used to protect sensitive parts of the RV. The most popular type of slide out awning will slide out to protect your RV slide out. It may be called a slide topper awning. This type of awning will protect your slide seals from rain, sun and leaves.
This prevents water from seeping through that joint into the living area and extends the life of the seals. Some models have built-in wind deflectors to prevent the awning from billowing in the wind. This reduces the noise level and helps prevent damage from the jerks of the fabric.
Note that slide out awnings could cover your RV’s doorway or the side of the vehicle, as well.
05. Automatic RV Awnings
Automatic RV awnings are powered or electric. They’ll extend at the push of a button. This is in contract to manual awnings that need to be manually assembled or extended by turning a crank.
Note that all automatic RV awnings are retractable. Some models such as those that cover an RV extension may automatically extend along with the RV section.
The main point in their favor is convenience.
06. Patio Awnings
Patio awnings are awnings intended to create a sheltered “patio” on the side of the RV. These awnings tend to be on the passenger side of the RV or the same side of the vehicle as the main door to the living area.
Some people have patio awnings on both sides of the vehicle. These awnings may range from two or three feet long to shade windows to ten and twenty feet awnings that create as much sheltered living space as the inside of the RV.
However, patio awnings will always be far larger than window awnings.
07. Roller Awnings
A roller awning is a type of retractable awning. It typically rolls up the material in a roller in a manner similar to roller-based window blinds.
The difference in the case of RV awnings is size – the roller awning may span the entire length of the RV, though it may only be as wide as a single window.
08. Retractable Awnings
Retractable awnings are the opposite of fixed RV awnings. You can remove the poles and retract them, completely exposing the door or window. They may fold up or roll up for convenient storage.
On an RV, this means you can retract the RV and maximize your fuel efficiency by minimizing the drag. And you don’t have shade if you don’t want it, either.
If you’re dealing with window awnings, the awning may collapse down against the window to maximize privacy and shade.
09. Manual Awnings
Manual awnings are retractable awnings retracted by means of a crank, rollers and other manual means. This requires more work on your part than an automatic awnings, but they are cheaper, too.
Others appreciate them because you don’t have to wire it up or keep it supplied with batteries.
10. Fiberglass Awnings
Fiberglass awnings are more commonly used on permanent buildings than RVs. They’re prone to cracking on impact or exposure to temperature extremes.
However, you may find fiberglass pipes used to hold roller awnings in place, since they are both light and strong.
What to Consider for Buying the Perfect RV Awning?
What makes an RV awning perfect? The real answer is that it is perfect for your needs and your RV. We’ll share the things you need to consider before buying the right RV awning so that it is perfect for you.
The best fabric for your RV is perfect for the environment you’re traveling in and your own preferences. For example, cotton and canvas rot in hot, humid environments. Laminating them with vinyl and other plastics extend their life, but it doesn’t do as well as pure plastic RV awnings in these situations.
In windy environments, plastic tarps flex and bend, wearing out quickly.
02. How easy to install
The ease of installation matters just once if you’re installing an automatic awning. The automatic awning that rolls out when the RV extends or at the push of a button when you’ve parked the vehicle to create a shaded area eliminates any subsequent work.
If you have to manually extend the awning, then the ease by which you unroll it or crank it matters more than how hard it was to mount on the side of the vehicle.
03. RVs measurements
Let’s be honest about the fact that a 20 foot awning isn’t going to fit a 10 foot travel trailer. A 10 foot awning may work if you want shade for a small work space. For example, it may be sufficient if you only want to shade the living area around the front door of your trailer or shade over your grill and storage area.
However, a 10 foot awning may feel small when you have to choose whether to shade the front door or your grill.
If the goal is to shade the picture window at the back of the RV or the vehicle extension, then the awning measurements need to equal or be slightly larger than the area you are shading. In this regard, the awning’s measurements need to equal or slightly exceed the area it protects.
However, an awning intended to protect the entire side of the RV should be equal to the length of the RV. Anything longer makes it harder to mount, and it throws off everything from storing to driving the RV.
For example, a 22 foot awning on a 20 foot RV means it can’t be stored in a 21 foot long garage. And an awning that’s narrower than a window both looks bad from the inside and the outside.
04. Travel needs
The awning for your application is one that meets your travel needs. For example, an awning that makes it hard to store the RV or travel trailer is a hassle. We’ve already mentioned how an awning that extends past the end of the RV or increases its length is a hindrance.
In these cases, you may want a removable awning that can be packed away instead of remaining permanently fixed to the RV structure. An awning that collapses along with the RV extension makes the RV easier to fit in tight lanes and parking spaces, too.
If you drive long distances, lighting awnings that cost a little more may be worth it, too, in the improved fuel efficiency.
In this case, we’re talking about the size of RV awning, not the size of your RV. For example, a 20 foot long RV could have be paired with an awning anywhere from 2 feet to 20 feet wide.
The question is your intention. If you just want to provide shade for the RV, you only need an awning a couple of feet wide. It could be one to three feet wide. If the goal is to have shaded living space near the RV, then you want an awning eight to twenty feet wide. Then you have to balance the cost relative to the benefit.
For example, extendable awnings twice as long may cost more than twice as much if support bars are required.
You should do a cost-benefit analysis for any RV awning. However, the benefits are based on what you value most. For example, it may be worth a little more to buy an extendible RV awning that came with the RV instead of paying for one you have to install.
Convenience then offsets the higher cost. Buying one that is plug and play with the RV’s electrical system and control board is another labor saver. If you’re setting up tarps and tents when you park the RV, then a manual RV awning that requires little extra work to extend is worth it.
There’s less hardware to cart around than the system you’re already using.
Appearance is a factor when you’re buying an RV, since it is as visible as the outside of the RV. In fact, it may be noticed before the vehicle itself. This is why you want to pick an awning that looks good out of the box. However, the ideal awning will be used for years. If the awning is made of cheap materials, it will fall apart in a matter of months and look bad.
Another factor to consider is how the material fits with the look of the camper or RV. Off white generally works well with a white or cream RV. However, a white awning clashes with a dark RV. A pure white tarp will also appear aged or unmaintained if you don’t clean it often, since it will show dirt, dust, pollen and debris.
Be careful with patterned awnings. You run the risk of it clashing with the RV’s paint job. Brightly colored awnings also tend to fade quickly, though this is less of a problem with vinyl awnings.
You don’t want awnings that look aged after a single summer in the sun.
08. Other Factors
If you’re cooking on a grill under the awning, the smoke will rise and discolor the awning. You either want an awning so dark it doesn’t show or one you can clean or wash to remove the smoke residue. The same is true if you smoke cigarettes under the awning.
The benefit of cloth awnings is that they can generally be tossed in a clothes washer. Vinyl awnings can often be rinsed with a water hose to the same effect.
Frequently Asked Questions of RV Awnings
01. How many sizes are there in RV awnings?
The awning has a length and a depth. The typical awning sizes are 8 feet and 10 to 18 feet in one foot increments. This correlates to the various lengths of recreational vehicles and campers out there.
However, it is easier to find 10 and 12 foot awnings than 11 foot ones. Note that the awning material will be several inches narrower than the length of the vehicle, since it sits inside the supporting frame.
Most awnings extend seven to ten feet out from the edge of the RV.
02. What are the best brands for awnings?
Some of the best brands for RV awnings are Shade Pro, Lippert Components, Sunwave, Dometic, and Carefree. These brands are so popular that you’ll find rival products advertising their compatibility with these brands of awnings.
03. How long will an awning last?
A vinyl awning can last eight to ten years if it is protected from strain and punctures. Note that this is how long it is structurally sound. Its color can fade well before this. Canvas awnings can last twenty years if protected from rot. Spraying a canvas awning with sprays to kill mold and mildew can maximize the life.
Cotton awnings last a fraction of this time because they’re prone to rot and fail structurally far sooner. The vinyl treated fabrics last longer. However, when they start to delaminate, the material underneath is prone to fail.
04. How to maintain an RV awning
The biggest enemy of an RV awning is the wind. An awning flapping about in the breeze is being constantly stressed and strained. This is why one of the best ways to protect your awning is to buy one that is the right size for the awning poles. Avoid letting the awning lay slack, though you don’t want to pull it so tightly that you’re straining it, too.
Some people add awning de-flappers to the awning just to minimize this risk. The alternative is RV awning hold down kits that limit how much it moves even in response to light winds.
Be careful when unfurling the awning so that it doesn’t rip. Don’t let people hang things from the awning edge or supporting poles that can stretch it. Eventually, that will rip it.
Awnings can be breeding grounds for mold and mildew. When the awning gets wet, let it dry out before you roll it up and stow it away. If pools of water collect on the surface, gently push up the middle of the awning to get the water to drain away.
Use a broom to brush debris off the top of the awning. This prevents mud from forming and helping fungi and mold from growing there.
05. Which types of rv awning are the most widely used?
If you were talking about awnings for a stationary building, then metal is a common choice. However, their weight and inflexibility makes them unsuitable for RVs. The most commonly used RV awning material today is vinyl. It is lightweight and waterproof.
Polyester is a close second. Treated fabrics used to be common but are less so, since you can find vinyl awnings with bright colors and patterns plus a longer functional life.
06. Do Rvers always need an RV awning?
Awnings are useful for creating shaded, sheltered areas. If you’re not concerned about keeping rain and falling debris away from the front door to the RV, you may not need an RV awning. Also, If you don’t find yourself creating a shaded work or play area when parked, then you don’t need an RV awning.
If you’re constantly stringing up tarps or beach umbrellas so you can comfortably sit outside, then you would benefit from an RV awning.
07. What are Awnings made of? Are RV Awnings waterproof?
Awnings can be made from canvas, cloth, vinyl and nylon. They may be supported by fiberglass, plastic or metal poles. Only awnings made from waterproof materials like polyester and vinyl will be water-proof, though vinyl laminated cloth can be very water-resistant.
On the flipside, treated canvas tends to capture snow and rain, increases the odds that the awning frame is damaged by the load or the awning just fails due to the weight.
08. What is the warranty for an RV awning?
Awning warranties come in several flavors. General product warranties are provided by the manufacturer are typically limited to manufacturing defects. This means that the warranty only applies to defects found when you take it out of the box or issues like missing parts. It won’t cover accelerated wear or damage to the RV awning you expected it to survive.
You can buy a warranty for your RV that may provide coverage for the awning if it was part of the vehicle when you bought it or chose to buy coverage for it. A listed component warranty will only cover parts listed on the warranty. If you experience a failure not included in the list, the warranty doesn’t cover it. Exclusionary RV warranties cover everything that isn’t specifically excluded. These warranties often exclude awnings but not always.
A Note for RV warranties
Note that none of these warranties cover physical damage and damage related to a collision. For example, none of these warranties will pay out if your RV awning is damaged when hit by a car or falling tree branch. Aesthetic damage like discoloration won’t be covered, either. And everyone will disregard damage they can blame on damage caused by shipping.
When you replace the material in an RV awning, the new material is covered by the limited warranty provided by that product’s manufacturer. However, that warranty will be limited, and many companies don’t provide one. And a lifetime warranty on your RV will never cover the replacement awning you paid for out of pocket.
If you pay a professional to install the awning, they are typically liable for damage due to mistakes in the installation. This means that they may have to pay for damage caused by an awning that doesn’t deploy properly. And they may have to pay to replace the retractable awning if it rips because they didn’t connect it properly.
09. How to open an RV awning?
If you have a powered RV awning, it should be a matter of pressing a button and the RV extending itself. What if you have a manual RV awning? Loosen or unfasten the arms that hold the folded up awning in place. Release the travel locks. Put the ratchet mechanism in the roll-down position or the open position. This may not be necessary if the RV has a slide mechanism released by the ratchet.
Roll out your awning with the awning rod. Pull on the awning via the loop on the awning specifically for this purpose. You may pull on the loop with a specific tool, or you may do so with your hands. Just avoid pulling on the edge of the awning to extend it.
Swing the rafters to the awning arms to lock them into place. If they are hard to move, you can lubricate them with WD-40.Tighten the knobs to secure the awning.
Raise the awning to the desired height using the handles that come with each arm. Either do it a little on each side or have two people do it at the same time to avoid straining the awning. Ensure that the awning won’t interfere with entering the RV.
10. How to choose the right awning size?
How long is your RV living section? That sets the maximum possible width of the RV awning. Realistically, you only want the RV awning to stretch alongside the length of the living section. The length of the trailer or living section is the best possible length of the RV awning.
Note that you can choose an awning that only stretches along a main window, above the RV’s outdoor kitchen or shields the main door. That’s a cheaper solution, but it limits the effectiveness of the RV awning, too.
If you have a 16 foot long travel trailer, this means the ideal RV awning is 14, 15 or 16 feet. However, that doesn’t mean the awning fabric is actually this wide. The fabric will sit inside of a frame. This takes a few inches off the real width. This is why the typical 16 foot wide RV awning has 15 foot 2 to 4 inch wide fabric.
The other major dimension of the awning is the depth. This is how far the awning will extend. Note that the awning rarely sticks out from a 90 degree angle from the RV. It is generally sloped down. This means an 8 foot wide awning will give you 4 to 6 feet of shaded space depending on the angle you set the RV awning supports at.
11. How to adjust an RV awning?
Awning adjustability depends on the supports and the type of the RV awning you have. For example, you can sometimes extend the awning anywhere from a few inches to the full length of the supports. If you only want to extend it half way, you often can. This is a matter of unfurling it as far as you want and then locking the supports in place.
The other area you can adjust the awning is with regard to the angle of the supports. You can slope the awning down to maximize shade or elevate it to maximize coverage. The literal degree to which you can do this depends on the awning supports themselves.
12. How to keep an awning from flapping?
There are several ways to keep an awning from flapping. One is to attach anti-flapping weights to the awning designed not to damage it. Another approach is tying it to the ground in addition to holding it in place via the snaps and arms of the RV awning supports.
On the flipside, you should keep the awning rolled up during severe storms. This includes wind storms, hurricanes and thunderstorms. Then it doesn’t flap around wildly in high winds.
13. How to clean an RV awning like a pro?
How can you clean an RV awning? The awning should be lifted up if possible to let snow and water that’s pooled on the top to drain off. Use a broom or other gentle brush to wipe away debris. If you hose off the awning, remember to lift it up to get all the water to drain off. Then give the awning time to dry before you roll it up and store it.
There are awning cleaning compounds. You can also use cleaning solutions made of dish soap and water. Avoid using bleach water. This may kill mold, but it may damage the awning. Check your owner’s manual.
14. How to close an RV awning?
This is the opposite of the process for opening the awning. Loosen and collapse the supports. Release the awning and retract it. Ensure the awning is clean, dry and doesn't have any debris on it before you close it.
15. How to repair an RV awning fabric?
For small holes and rips, you should clean the surrounding area, let it dry, then seal it with repair tape. Ensure that there are no air pockets or bubbles. That helps keep the tape in place longer, but it also prevents the repaired spot from catching when the fabric is rolled up.
Larger rips and tears could be fixed with sewing supplies and similar looking material, but this is often so time-consuming that people buy a new awning instead.
16. How to choose the right awning size?
If you’ve bought a new RV, the vehicle should come with an awning. And your user manual should say what size of RV awning you have. Any new awning should be of the same or a similar size, and it needs to fit the existing RV awning frame.
This means that you shouldn’t get an awning that is 10 feet deep if the frame only extends 8 feet.
RV awnings extend our usable space while bringing us out of the RV, into the greater world and into greater contact with our neighbors. However, RV awnings are often seen as complicated devices that aren’t worth the trouble.
This is why so many RV owners fail to use their awnings. Learn how to use the awning and care for it so that you can enjoy the many benefits it provides.