Everything You Need To Know About Awnings
All About Awnings
Your Questions On Awnings Answered
The main advantage of having an awning is clear – it could double the living area inside your motorhome. We all know how great motorhomes are for holiday accommodation, flexible, portable and a cost effective way of providing your family with great memories for the years to come. But, no matter how large your vehicle is, it’s always great to have some flexible floor space.
Attaching an awning to your motorhome is an ideal way to provide an extension to the living area without a lot of effort. It provides shelter from sun and rain, serves as a bike storage area, works as a dining area or a bedroom in the evenings. Use it for storage, to sit and relax in, for the kids to sleep in, or for the dogs.
Awnings are a cost-effective way of increasing space and are a much more flexible way of increasing storage than simply buying a bigger motorhome. And if you decide that on a particular trip you don’t need your awning, you can just leave it at home.
If you’re planning on buying an awning, here’s what you need to know.
When looking at a new awning, one of the key things to consider is the durability of the material as this will help determine how long it is likely to last and what value for money it has. Dometic awnings are electrically operated and are available in different sizes and colours. The material they are made from is waterproof and robust and can withstand strong winds.
Different Types of Awning
Tents or Wind Out Awnings?
There are generally two types and therefore two main choices of awning designed for motorhomes on the market, canopy type awning and the 'drive-away' porch awning.
The first type is attached to the roof level of your motorhome and you wind it out and in as needed.
The advantage of this type of canopy is that it’s easy to retract when you want to drive off, the downside is that it only provides shade, not an enclosed storage space. Larger tent awnings are more popular as they provide more flexibility of use.
Many awnings are designed to attach onto the motorhome and will have to be dismantled every time you move the vehicle, so if you’re planning on basing yourself on one campsite but want the flexibility of being able to move easily, look for an awning which doesn’t need to be taken down each time. These are known as “drive-away” awnings.
Similarly, if you’re moving to a new location regularly and want to pitch the awning each time, you’ll want to look for a design which goes up with the minimum of time and effort.
Awnings are similar to tents, the selection of fabric, type of poles and the need for a groundsheet are considerations you need to take into account when purchasing your awnings.
The Drive-Away Awning
A drive-away awning is a self-supporting structure, which attaches to your motorhome's awning rail. Drive-away awnings allow you to remove the awning and leave it on your allocated pitch whilst you and your family to move your motorhome for trips, shopping etc. without having to pack it away.
It provides you with a relatively solid structure which can withstand most weather conditions, so is perfect for storing all your outdoor equipment, muddy bikes, sandy bucket and spades, rain-soaked coats and boots, keeping the inside of your motorhome tidy.
Drive-away awnings are usually designed with a roll up front which provides a wind break in the event of a drop in temperature, making sure you can still enjoy the outdoors till late into the night and make the most of your precious holiday evenings.
The Canopy Awning
Canopy awnings come in two types: either temporarily or permanently fixed to your motorhome.
Permanent awnings are fixed to your motorhome and roll out, like a roller blind and have integral poles that fold down to form stable legs. Some manufacturers provide fabric walls you can fix to the awning, allowing you to enclose the space around your pitch.
Things to consider
- Make sure you purchase hardened steel rock pegs, in case you arrive at a gravel hardstanding
- Whilst in transit, make sure your awning is positioned securely and cannot move around your motorhome if you brake suddenly
- Put a groundsheet down on muddy ground before you begin to unload your awning
- This allows you to lay out your awning without it getting dirty
- For speed, erect your awning with its side panels in place
- In the event of wind, its best to remove the panels to avoid tearing your awning
Awnings and Hardstanding
Unless you’ve chosen to go for the sort of canopy awning which winds out from the side of your motorhome, you usually need some way of securing it to the ground. Most awnings are secured using tent pegs which is easy when you’re parked up on the grass, not so easy if the pitches are hardstanding or concrete.
If you’re planning on visiting a site you haven’t stayed at before, check out the configuration of the pitches first.
Usually you’ll be asked when booking if you are planning on using an awning so that the owner of the campsite can ensure that there’s enough space between pitches.
Buying Motorhome Awnings
The main thing you’re looking for when you’re buying a new motorhome awning is one which will fit onto your vehicle.
Porch awnings are a popular choice as they are designed to fit onto just a small section of the motorhome by the door rather than across the full side. Manufacturers will often give guidance about the most appropriate type of awning for your specific model.
Lightweight polyester awnings are cheap and easy to transport, but are not as durable as heavier acrylic awnings, so consider how many times you’re thinking about using it. Whatever type you choose, and especially when you’re buying second hand, make sure you have a full set of instructions and all the poles and connectors required to put your awning up.