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Discover the Top 10 Types of RV Awnings for Your Camper: Which One Will You Choose?

| Updated Jul 17, 2023

Whether you have the option when buying new or are looking to replace your RV awning, here are the different types of RV awnings you should know about…

We are big believers that RV awnings are one of the BEST features of RV life. After all, they practically double your living area by creating a sheltered outdoor living space.

That's why RV owners need a quality awning to shelter them from heavy rain, hot summer days, and everything in between.

So, if you're adding a new awning, upgrading your old one, or have choices when buying your RV, here's what you need to know. The following is a list of the most common types of RV awnings.

I've also included an FAQ section at the end if you wish to learn more about the basics of RV awnings.

If you buy something through our links, we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep our lights on so we can continue to provide helpful resources for RVers. Read our full affiliate disclosure here.

Types of RV Awnings

10 Different Types of RV Awnings

It's hard to say which are the best RV awnings because it depends on the type of RV and your RV lifestyle. For instance, some RVers are greatly limited by weight, so the best camper awnings for them are the lighter options. Or, boondockers may prefer manual to save on energy.

So, it's best to learn about the different types of awnings and then decide which is the best awning for you.

Keep in mind there is some overlap with the following types, especially when it comes to functionality and material. Some awnings, for example, are retractable, manual, and have vinyl awning material. So, you can likely mix and match your preferred mechanism and RV awning fabric for the perfect RV awning for you.

1. Retractable Awnings

Almost all RV awnings are retractable since they enable you to close them up easily and drive down the road safely. They are also known as roller awnings since that's exactly what they do. They roll up whenever you don't want to use them.

There are a few exceptions, of course. For instance, some RVs have small, fixed awnings over their doors and/or windows that are usually aluminum. Or, people who live in their RV full-time at a permanent location sometimes opt for fixed awnings.

Most of the time, however, RVers want a retractable RV awning that they can open and close as needed. The real question becomes, ‘which type of retractable awning do you want?' Here are your options…

2. Manual Awnings

A manual RV awning is an awning that is operated by hand rather than by an electric motor. This means that the awning must be manually extended and retracted by pulling or pushing on the arms of the awning.

Manual RV awnings are often less expensive than electric awnings. Since they don't require a motor, they also tend to be lighter.

They can be a good choice for RVers who only plan to use the awning occasionally or who prefer the simplicity of manual operation.

However, manual awnings require more physical effort to operate and are not as convenient as electric awnings. In some cases, they are more adjustable than some electric awnings as far as how far you want them extended, but that depends on the precise awning you choose.

Types of RV Awnings

3. Electric Awning

As expected, these rely on electric motors to open and close. This means that the awning can be extended and retracted with the push of a button or the flip of a switch, making it a more convenient and effortless option for RVers.

Electric awnings often come with remote control, allowing RVers to easily control the awning from inside the RV. This can be particularly useful for RVers who plan to use the awning frequently or who want to be able to adjust the awning with minimal effort.

Electric awnings are usually more expensive than manual awnings and may require more maintenance. They also require a power source, either through the RV's electrical system or by using a generator. So, dry campers and boondockers need to keep that in mind.

Electric awnings can come with various features like wind sensors and automatic retraction…

4. Automatic Awnings

Automatic RV awnings, also known as smart awnings, are a type of electric awning that can be controlled with a remote control or a smartphone app. These awnings can be set to open and close automatically based on certain conditions, such as the time of day or harsh weather conditions.

Some of the features that are typically included in automatic RV awnings are:

  • Wind sensor: This feature automatically closes the awning when wind speeds reach a certain level, to prevent damage to the awning or the RV.
  • Sun sensor: This feature automatically extends the awning when the sun is shining and retracts it when the sun is not shining.
  • Weather forecast: This feature uses data from weather forecast services to predict when the awning should be open or closed.

That last feature is particularly helpful. If you've ever left your campsite in the morning and returned after strong winds hit, you'll know what we're talking about. Many a camper has returned to find their awnings broken, wishing they had retracted them before they left for the day.

Unsurprisingly, they are more expensive than manual or electric awnings and may require more maintenance. But they are a great addition for those who love RV gadgets.

Types of RV Awnings - window awnings

5. Window Awnings

When people think of RV awnings, they usually think of a long awning that runs almost the full length of the side of your RV. Those are designed to create a shaded area and comfortable outdoor space on the side of your recreational vehicle.

However, some awnings are designed to shade the interior of your RV. Window awnings do just that.

RV window awnings provide shade and privacy while reducing energy costs. They let natural sunlight in, but block harsh direct sunlight. Some RVers opt to install them over their windows, especially those on the opposite side of their RV's main awning.

For more privacy ideas, I recommend reading 5 RV Privacy Products to Make Your Campsite More Private.

6. Slide-Out Awnings

Slide-Out Awnings are awnings that cover your RV's slide-outs. These awnings are less about providing shade for you, and more about protecting the top of your RV slide-outs.

The awnings roll out with the slide and offer several benefits, such as:

  • Protecting the top of the slides from harmful UV rays
  • Protecting the top of the slides from debris, making them easier to clean and maintain
  • Preventing water, snow, and ice buildup
  • Reducing the heat inside the RV slide-out on hot days

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7. RV Patio Awnings

An RV patio awning creates an enclosed outdoor living space by providing shelter from the sun, wind, and other elements. The awning can be extended out from the RV's side and secured to create a covered patio area.

Many RV patio awnings are also equipped with walls or screens that can be attached to the awning to enclose the space further and provide privacy. This can be done by using the zippers or snaps on the awning.

The enclosure can also be achieved by using the awning's own material. Some come with extra material that can roll down and be staked to the ground for the full length of the awning.

This type of outdoor living space can be a great place to relax, entertain guests, or even cook and eat meals. If you prefer a portable option, you can check out these Best Screen Tents for Camping.

8. Vinyl Awning

These awnings are made from a heavy-duty vinyl material designed to withstand the elements and last for many years. Vinyl fabric is made of plastic material which gives it its greatest advantage: it's waterproof. Its second big advantage: affordability.

Vinyl awnings are also mildew-resistant, but they are not mildew-proof. So, it's always best to let them dry as much as possible before rolling them up. You'll also want to check the awning periodically if you're storing your RV in a humid climate.*

Vinyl awnings are heavier than acrylic awnings. Plus, they aren't breathable like acrylic, which keeps you shaded but not as cool.

*Speaking of storing your RV, check out the video at the end!

9. Acrylic Awnings

Acrylic RV awnings are usually more expensive than vinyl options. The acrylic fabric is lighter, and the woven material is breathable. Thus, its biggest advantage is keeping you cooler while shading you.

Its breathability also makes it more resistant to mold and mildew. However, it's always a good idea to let any awning dry as much as possible before rolling it up.

Unlike vinyl, the acrylic material is not waterproof. It is water-resistant, but if water pools on it, it will leak through.

awning and rv at sunset

10. Aluminum Awnings

As I mentioned in the beginning, some RVers want a permanent, fixed awning. These RVers usually live in their RV full-time at a set location. In this case, an aluminum awning is a good option.

This type of awning is often secured to the ground with posts as well as connected to the top of the RV. It can withstand extreme weather conditions and even have built-in gutters and drainage pipes. Some are free-standing so that an RV can drive up next to it or even under it.

Here are some tips for storing your RV and then, if you scroll down, you'll find RV Awning FAQ.

Tips & Proper Care for Storing Your RV

Like what you see in these videos? We'd appreciate it if you would Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (easy to do right here) and consider “ringing the bell icon” to be notified of any new video from us. 🙂 Thanks!

Sometimes you have to say goodbye and store your RV away for a season. This involves more than just storing it away. We chat with a storage expert from the National Indoor RV Storage Center and talk proper indoor/outdoor RV storage tips and techniques.

RV Awning FAQ

The following is a list of the most frequently asked questions about RV awnings with answers. Hopefully, you find them helpful.

What are RV awnings?

RV awnings are a type of awning that attaches to the side of a recreational vehicle (RV) and provides shade and protection from the elements for the patio area. They can be made from a variety of materials, including fabric, vinyl, or acrylic.

How do RV awnings attach to an RV?

RV awnings typically attach to the side of an RV using a metal arm that is mounted to the RV. The awning then rolls out from the side of the RV and can be extended to different lengths.

What are the different types of RV awnings?

There are several types of RV awnings, including fabric, vinyl, and acrylic awnings. Each type has its own set of pros and cons, such as durability, weather resistance, and ease of maintenance.

How do I care for my RV awning?

The care for an RV awning will depend on the type of material it is made from. In general, it is important to keep the awning clean and free from debris and to protect it from harsh weather conditions when not in use. Acrylic awnings require more care than other types of awnings.
Here is a good RV Awning Cleaner Guide.

Can RV awnings be used in windy conditions?

While RV awnings are designed to withstand some wind, it is important to be cautious when using them in very windy conditions. It is recommended to take down the awning or secure it properly to avoid damage.

Are RV awnings easy to install?

The ease of installation will depend on the type of RV awning and the specific model. Some RV awnings are designed to be easy to install and require minimal tools, while others may require professional installation.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-01-27

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

5 Responses to “Discover the Top 10 Types of RV Awnings for Your Camper: Which One Will You Choose?”

September 14, 2023at5:30 pm, Eve Mitchell said:

It’s good to know that RV awnings are easy to install depending on the model. I want to get an awning for my RV since it would create a bigger space for me to relax outside. I’ll look online to find a tarp that will work with my model. [Link deleted]

Reply

March 03, 2023at11:24 am, Eli Richardson said:

I have a cousin who bought a second-hand RV a few weeks ago, and he wants to invest in it to make it more comfortable and functional. That’s why I think he’d be glad to read about RV awnings and their ability to provide cover for your patio area, so I’ll make sure my cousin gets this right away. Thanks for the insight on protecting your family from weather conditions when traveling in an RV. [Link deleted]

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March 04, 2023at8:26 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Glad the article was helpful, Eli! Thank you for the feedback – Team RV Lifestyle

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January 28, 2023at6:46 pm, Don Carpenter said:

Allowing one side of the awning to be lower than the other may help it to drain in a shower. The extra weight of a pool of rain water can bend rollers and possibly break stantions.

Reply

January 30, 2023at12:44 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Good point! Thanks for sharing, Don- Team RV Lifestyle

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