Skip to Content

5 Different Types of RV Awnings

A class A RV near the sea with extended RV awnings

Camping in an RV can be an incredible experience since we get to spend time with family and friends. RVs are well-equipped, so long trips are never a problem.

Add-ons are a great way to make our experience that much better, and awnings can do just that. Awnings essentially expand the usable area of our RV.

Choosing the right awning can be especially important. We want to pick the right awning that matches our needs and is also reliable. We’ll discuss the different types of awnings, their benefits and drawbacks, and much more.

Hopefully, we can help you select the best awning for you and your family. 

Types of RV Awnings

There are many types of RV awnings and they can be a great accessory to add to your RV. The main purpose of an awning is to provide shade and cover for your RV. It can also be used to create a campsite next to your RV.

The point is, that they serve many functions and are extremely versatile. If you select the right one, it can make your camping experience more enjoyable. We’ll take a look at six different types of awnings to help you make a decision.

1. Acrylic Awnings

RV Awning Fabric Replacement - Acrylic for Dometic with existing Metal Cover (18' (Fabric 17'2"), Cadet Grey)

Acrylic awnings are made from a woven material that provides great air circulation. They protect against bad weather and are great for protection from the sun.

The versatility of acrylic awnings makes them a great choice, though they do have a few drawbacks that could make them the wrong fit for you.

Pros

Great Air Circulation

Since acrylic awnings are made from woven material, the air can constantly move through the material. This means the temperature under the awning will be cooler, which is great for hot summer days. The improved circulation also helps protect against bugs and insects that thrive in hotter environments. 

Durable against Bad Weather 

Due to the design of acrylic awnings, they are capable of handling bad weather such as strong winds, debris, intense heat, and snow. Of course, it has its limits, but for the most part, it does a great job in bad weather.

The versatile nature of acrylic awnings makes them great for traveling through different parts of the country. 

Fast Drying Times

Acrylic awnings repel water from their surface and it does a great job. However, some water will always be left behind, but its material allows it to dry rather quickly.

This is beneficial when you’re trying to use it after it rains, or when trying to fold it before leaving. Whatever the case is, this is a great feature.

Cons

Not Waterproof

While Acrylic awnings do a decent job at preventing water from seeping through, the woven materials still have small gaps in them. Water can seep through these small gaps, which can be detrimental at times. If you’re cooking or trying to start a fire, the water can disrupt your activities.

See also  Can You Put a House Toilet in an RV?
Can be Expensive

Acrylic awnings can be quite expensive. If money isn’t an issue for you, then they are a great choice. For more money-conscious people, it may not be the most budget-friendly option. Whether or not the price tag is worth it, depends on whether you think the benefits are of enough value. 

2. Fixed RV Awnings

An RV with extended fixed RV awnings an an old woman seating outside.

A fixed awning is a permanent awning attached to your RV. They offer protection against the sun and some bad weather and can be very useful when you’re parked. Unfortunately, fixed awnings do have a lot of disadvantages associated with them. 

Pros

Protection against the sun and rain

Fixed awnings can be great for protection against the sun or rain. The best part of this fixed design is that it always protects your cabin from the sun, so the inside of your RV can stay cool. It can also protect you from debris while driving on the road.

Cons

May Fall off While Driving

Since it is always fixed in place, a fixed awning can fall off while the RV is in motion. Not only could this cause a fatal accident, but it could also prove very costly. While this is rather unlikely to occur, there is still a chance that it could potentially happen. 

Constant Maintenance

Fixed awnings require more maintenance compared to other models. They remain in place all the time, which means they experience all sorts of weather constantly.

Materials can get damaged, debris can build up, and rust can occur. This requires you to constantly clean the awning and monitor it for damage.

3. Automatic Awnings

ALEKO RV Retractable 12x8 Feet Manual Awning 100% PVC Canopy, Cover, Sun Shade, Shelter for Camper Trailer or Patio - Black Fade - RVAW12X8BLK11

This is one of the more expensive options you can choose for your RV. It is very easy to use and can be very convenient. It can be controlled via a single touch of a button. We’d suggest going with this option if you have the extra cash lying around required to install it. 

Pros

Very easy to use

Automatic awnings are controlled by the push of a button. This button can either deploy the awning or retract it. It takes much less effort to control when compared to a manual awning. The level of convenience makes it very attractive for most buyers.

Great Technology

While not all automatic awnings come with standard sensors, most of them do these days. These sensors can retract the awning when it senses below freezing temperatures or strong winds. The sensor is also great if you forget to retract your awning because it will protect it from excessive damage.

Cons

Most Expensive

Price is possibly the first thing most people consider before buying anything, including an awning. Automatic awnings are very fancy and utilize electric motors. This use of technology tends to make them more expensive than other awnings. 

Repairs can also be quite expensive due to the complex nature of the awning. More moving parts generally require more maintenance and higher upkeep. You should take precautions to lessen the chance your awning gets damaged, but sometimes you simply can’t avoid that.

Not Versatile Enough

Automatic awnings do not provide much in terms of versatility. Once deployed, it typically sits in a fixed position. You are unable to adjust them to be in a position of your liking, which can be very inconvenient. They are also not great in heavy rain without the use of additional support.

See also  3 Types of RV Covers
Installation is difficult

Most awnings are simple to install and can be done as a simple DIY project. Automatic awnings, however, can be very tricky to install. They usually require more time to install and more precision. Installation is usually done by an expert, which can be quite expensive. 

4. Vinyl Awnings

ShadePro - RV Awning Fabric Replacement - Heavy Duty Weatherproof Vinyl - Universal Outdoor Canopy for Camper, Trailer, and Motorhome Awnings - Walnut Brown - 21' (Fabric 20' 2")

Vinyl awnings are a very popular option amongst RV users. They are cheap, easy to use and provide great protection. These awnings are also very durable, reliable, and relatively easy to maintain. Like every other material, there are some drawbacks to going with a vinyl awning.

Pros

Waterproof

This is one of the only awnings that is completely waterproof. You can under a vinyl awning without much fear of getting drenched in water. This added flexibility allows you to continue activities such as cooking or simply enjoying the outdoors. It also makes it great for snowy areas and provides more versatility.

Durable

The design of a vinyl awning makes it difficult for the UV rays of the sun to penetrate, and it protects you from dirt, dust, and grime. On hot summer days, having protection from UV rays is crucial in avoiding sunburns. Protecting your camping area from dirt and grime is also great for keeping your general area clean.

Vinyl awnings are also tear-resistant and fade-resistant. The color of your vinyl won’t begin to fade as you leave it out in the sun, which increases the life span of your awning. There’s no need to worry about your vinyl awning tearing apart either, since vinyl is a very strong material.

Cons

Mildew and Mold

Vinyl awnings are especially prone to the build-up of mold and mildew. This is caused by the accumulation of water and dirt on the awning. When water sits on the awning, over time mold and mildew begin to form. It is vital that you close your vinyl awning after every use and also try to clean it.

Low Air Circulation

Compared to other awnings, vinyl awnings don’t offer much breathability. It doesn’t have any small gaps or holes that allow air to circulate. While it does protect you from the sun’s UV rays, the drawback is that you will be much hotter sitting below a vinyl awning. 

Maintenance

A vinyl awning must be cleaned and dried after every use before putting it into storage. If not allowed to dry completely, mold and mildew can easily form. This can be particularly inconvenient if you live in a rainy area. You will have to clean it after every to keep it in the best shape possible. 

5. Slide Out Awnings

Awnlux Black Modular Slide Topper Awning Slide Out Protection for RVs, Travel Trailers, 5th Wheels, and Motorhomes -5'6" (5'1" Fabric)

Slide-out awnings are deployed whenever you desire and most are done manually. They tend to be the more budget-friendly options and are usually made from canvas. They are very easy to use and simple to take care of. The low cost of slide-out awnings makes it a very popular option for campers.

Pros

Budget-Friendly

The cost of slide-out awnings tends to be on the lower end when compared to other awnings. Canvas is the primary material used to build it, and it has proven to be cheap and reliable. While it isn’t as durable in the long term as other awnings, it will still last a very long time.

See also  How Much Does an RV Washer and Dryer Weigh?
Easy to Clean

Due to the design of a slide-out awning, dirt and debris usually slide right off. Canvas material acts as a sort of repellant against this kind of build-up. Going with this awning could potentially save you a lot of time and money in the long run if you keep up with maintenance.

Cons

Water Accumulation

A major drawback to using a canvas awning is the tendency of the awning to collect water. Water tends to pool on top of the awning and can easily drench you when trying to repel it. This water build-up also attracts insects such as mosquitos, which can quickly ruin your day.

Not Very Durable

Canvas is a very cheap material that, over time, can begin to fade and break down. The accumulation of water on the roof can even lead to the entire awning being worn down. While it is very easy to clean, maintenance is vital for extending the lifespan of your slide-out awning.

What’s the Purpose of RV Awnings?

As a bonus, RV awnings can be used for a variety of reasons. RV slide-topper awnings shield the roof from debris and rain while providing shade and protection for the windows. Awnings for RV patios increase the amount of interior space you have at your disposal.

Awnings are known for their long lifespan and low maintenance requirements.

Benefits of RV Awnings

An RV on camp site with RV awning installed.

Overall, awnings are fantastic to add to your RV. They provide many benefits which increase the general usefulness of your RV. Your camping trip becomes that much better just by adding an awning to your RV. Below are some of the benefits of an awning.

Provides Shade

Awnings extend from the RV, giving you an extended area of shade outside the vehicle. This can keep you cooler in the summer and prevent you from running your AC all day. It is also great at protecting your body from dangerous UV rays from the sun. It can get really hot in the summer and being sunburned just makes it worse. 

Keeps Your Interior Cool

Not only will an awning keep you cool on the outside, but it also helps your interior stay cool. The awning prevents the sun from beaming down through your windows, which can also protect your furniture and keep temperatures down on the inside.

Using an awning can save you money by lessening the need to keep your doors open and using the AC for extended periods.

Rain Cover

Not all awnings are waterproof, but most tend to be water-resistant. Instead of sitting inside your RV when it begins to rain, an awning gives you the freedom to still sit outside. You can enjoy activities like a fire, cooking, or just talking with your family. An awning can also keep the area nice and dry when the rain eventually stops.

Easy to Use and Maintain

RV awnings are very easy to operate and maintain. Many are controlled manually, though many manufacturers are implementing electric motors that allow you to control them with a push of a button. Manual models are also easy to use and don’t require much effort to deploy or repel. 

Maintenance is also pretty cheap. Most materials used on awnings allow them to be easily cleaned with just a few household products. You can also clean your awning when you wash your RV which makes it easier to clean.