On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than an RV awning to block the sun and provide some shade. Motorhome awnings are also great for blocking rain and snow, giving you coverage from inclement weather and an excuse to read a book or eat a meal outside even when conditions are less than ideal.
If you’re lucky, an RV retractable awning might already come standard with your camper or motorhome. If not, don’t worry — you can always add a DIY version or even upgrade to a power awning, which ejects at the touch of a button. Whichever type you’re interested in, here are a few tips and tricks for how to use an RV awning.
When it comes to using and maintaining your RV awning, there are some differences between a manual awning and an electric one, but both require a common level of care. For starters, make sure you always let your awning dry before you roll it up or put it away. Stowing a wet awning is a recipe for mildew, not to mention the awful stench that comes with it. For best results, try to clean your awning with bleach or a fabric-safe cleaner two to four times per year.
If it’s raining, be sure to adjust your awning so it’s at a downward-pointing angle, not parallel to the ground. For heavy rain, consider closing your awning altogether, as the pressure from the rainfall may put stress on the fabric.
Manual awnings generally pull out from the top of the RV with two arms at the front and back of your camper. To ensure the awning stays taut, be sure to lock the arms into position.
Power awnings, on the other hand, typically deploy with some sort of button or switch inside your RV. Some are equipped with sensors that automatically retract or lower depending on the level of wind or rain, but check your manual if you’re unsure.
RV Awning Parts
Every once in a while, you might find yourself needing to replace old or missing camper awning parts. Many of them, such as mounting brackets and lift handles, can be found online and shipped directly to your campsite. You can also buy replacement arms, roller tubes, tension knobs, and pull straps.
If you’ll be installing your own awning, be sure to heed the old saying and measure twice, cut once. That means taking the time to consider the proper size awning for your particular RV. For a trailer travel awning, for example, you’ll need a much smaller awning if you’ve got a teardrop trailer than you will if you have a fifth wheel. A small awning on a larger trailer tends to look awkward, so price out your options and, if necessary, save up before purchasing.
Once you’ve installed your trailer awning, you can start adding accessories. For extra shade, try purchasing an RV awning shade, which provides privacy and helps block sunlight and UV rays. You can even create your own “front porch” with a screened room shade.
Other accessories can help protect your awning so you can avoid a costly RV awning replacement. The so-called RV awning de-flapper helps protect the awning fabric from rips and tears while preventing it from flapping in the wind. If you do get a rip in the RV awning fabric, however, you can always turn to awning repair tape, which provides a quick fix for any tears.
(photo via Amazon)
One way to inject some style into your RV window awnings is to add some awning lights. LED light strips can add a colorful glow to the outside of your camper and are generally waterproof so they can become a permanent fixture. You can even find an LED light strip that changes colors for a cool, party-ready effect.
Globe lights or twinkle lights are another popular option for decorating your awning, although they’ll need to be taken down each time you pack up your campsite to leave. String lights add a warm, hip vibe to your camper or trailer while providing an ambient source of lighting. Or you can try these festive, camper-shaped lights to really stay on theme!
We hope this guide has helped you learn more about different RV awning options! For more tips, check out our awning maintenance guide.