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UPDATED June 17, 2020  
by Kyle Roberts

How To Install An RV Awning The Easy Way

How To Install An RV Awning The Easy Way

As an RV owner, you probably take out your RV on a regular basis. Over time, the parts of your RV will wear and tear, particularly the fabric awning. You can save money by learning how to install RV awning on your own instead of having to take it to a repair shop every time you need an awning replaced. If your RV doesn’t come with an awning, installing one will give you a place where you can sit back and relax while being protected from the elements. 

Learning how to install RV awning might sound like a difficult and intimidating project, but it’s much easier than you think. In this article, we will teach you a quick guide on how to install your RV awning step-by-step.

What is an Awning and What are the Benefits of Having One?

An awning is also known as an overhang, and it is a covering attached to the side of your RV, typically made from woven canvass or fabric stretched over a sheet of aluminum, iron, or steel. These days, you can even find awnings made from solar panels for RVs that run on green energy!

Having an awning attached to the side of your RV means that you can get instant protection from unpleasant weather. If you’re enjoying a camping trip and it suddenly threatens to rain or gets intensely hot, you can spread out your awning and relax in the cool, dry shade.

Aside from protecting you from the weather, an awning can also help reduce the costs of running your RV. Since the awning prevents sunlight from entering the RV’s windows, you won’t need to run your air conditioner as long to keep the interior of your RV cool.

You can even get simple and cheap add-ons to your awning, such as a screen room. A screen room easily attaches to your awning and turns it into an outdoor room that’s protected from insects. You can also install patio lights to your awning so that you can enjoy sitting outside of your RV even after the sun goes down.

Awning Kits vs. Awning Parts

When you go out to buy materials for your awning, you can find them in either complete kits or in separate parts. If you’re installing your awning from scratch, you should get the complete kit to guarantee that the pieces are complete, fit together, and work together.

If you're repairing or upgrading your awning, you can purchase the specific parts you need to save money. Buying specific parts also allows you to upgrade or customize your awning. Before you purchase separate parts, it's best to bring the sample of the part being replaced or repaired to ensure that you are purchasing the correct replacement.

Manual vs. Automatic Awnings

There are two types of awnings to choose from: manual or electric awnings. For manual, you can choose between pull-style or hand-crank, while for automatic, you can choose between electric or battery-powered. Which one you choose depends on your personal preferences and budget.

  • Manual Awnings – manual awnings are opened and closed manually, either by pulling it down (pull-style) or cranking a handle to extend and close the awning. Hand-crank awnings are sturdier and more efficient compared to pull-style awnings, but they require a bit of know-how to install.
    • Pros:
      • Cheaper than automatic awnings
      • Sturdier against strong winds
      • Easy to install or repair
    • Cons:
      • Not as convenient as automatic awnings
      • Can be hard to extend and retract if the mechanism jams
  • Automatic Awnings – automatic awnings are either wired into the electrical system of the RV or powered by a separate battery. They generally come in complete kits, and some models are plug-and-play types, making them easy to install.
    • Pros: 
      • More convenient to use
      • Some models automatically retract if strong winds are detected
    • Cons:
      • ​Not as sturdy compared to manual awnings
      • Cannot be used if the power source is out
      • More expensive
      • Electrical awnings must be installed by professional 

How to Install Your Awning in 3 Easy Steps

Here is how to purchase and install your RV awning in three easy steps:

STEP 1: Find your Awning

The first thing that you need to do is find the right-sized awning for your RV. If you don’t find the right awning, you’ll have spent all that time and money for nothing! Here is how to take the proper measurements for your awning:

  1. Start from the top rack of your RV as this is where you will attach your awning. The top stop is where you start your measurement.
  2. Measure from the rack to the ground. This is the height.
  3. For the width, begin from a point beyond the edge of the door. Make sure that there are no windows that the awning will block. Measure both sides from end-to-end. This is your total width. Include the floor line of the RV, as this is where the bottom brackets of your awning will be attached.

STEP 2: Install the Hardware

  1. If you are installing a manual awning, carefully secure all the screws and bolts of the awning kit on the awning railing on top of your RV. This is the most important step so make sure that your measurements are correct! Take care to tighten the screws and bolts properly, but do not over-torque them.
  2. If you are installing an electric or battery-powered awning, you might need to hire a professional to make sure that the power source is properly connected to your awning kit.
  3. Once the awning is attached to the railing, extend your awning and slide the upper awning arms into place, adjusting the tension arm as you go.
  4. Place the support legs on the floor and mark their position. If your awning comes with bottom brackets, you can attach them to the floor line of your RV for greater support.

STEP 3: Add some Extra Protection

  1. Buy an awning deflapper to prevent violent flapping and tearing of the awning during strong winds.

Taking Care of Your RV Awning

Now that you know how to install RV awning, you'll want to take care of it so that you can enjoy it for years to come. Apply lubricant to the sliding tension arms and adjustment knobs so that they don't stick over time. Regularly clean your awning surface, especially if it gets exposed to extreme conditions such as rain, heat, or cold. Finally, apply sealant to the brackets and screws to prevent them from rusting. Follow these simple steps, and you can have an awning that you will enjoy using for years to come.

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