Originally Posted by jimmoore13
Electric awnings are very fragile. If the wind billows the fabric and the arms are moving, reel it in.
Missing from the electric awnings are:
Vertical support poles;
You can buy relatively useful vertical poles and tie down straps anchored with heavy tent stakes. The poles MUST firmly attach to the end of the arms holding the roll-up drum. "Cradle" devices are useless. This step will give you time to roll up the awning if a thunderstorm rolls through.
But this is still not as good as your old manual awning.
Rafters are essential to a solid awning. The awning on my old pop-up was a PITA to setup and tear down. But it was strong.
I no longer bother with vertical poles. I use simple straps to the ground to give me time to retract the awning. We never leave it out unless we are "right there" to reel it in if the wind comes up.
In other words, electric awnings suck.
Continuing my rant. Illustrations were difficult to provide from my phone...now on the computer.
I tried these "Carefree" support poles.
I found them to be essentially useless, because the upper support saddle is plastic, pulls free from the pole, and the hook meant to attach the ground strap was frail. I returned them after one weekend's use.
There were several problems with this design. Most notably, the orange plastic drum saddle just pushed onto the top of the pole. Any movement by the awning would lift the saddle off the pole. Next, the tie-down strap attached to the saddle at the back of the saddle...rather than attaching to the pole...and this further encouraged the saddle to separate from the pole. My poles were laying on the ground more often than supporting the awning.
The key problem is that most aftermarket poles to NOT attach firmly to the awning frame. Here is a DIY solution that actually makes sense.
The key element in the design is the "U-bracket" that attaches permanently to the awning frame, and to which the pole is firmly attached with a clevis pin or locking pin similar to that holding your drop leg or foot to your tongue jack. The important part is that the pole will not separate from the awning if the wind lifts the awning a bit...because the "saddle" and the pole are firmly connected together with the pin.
One modification I'd make to this design is to add a stake D-ring to the bottom of the pole...to keep it from moving about...and another to the top of the pole to provide an attachment for a ratchet strap
. These straps could be attached to the pole using stainless screws and washers. A ratchet strap could go from the top of the pole to a stake in the ground to hold the pole and awning in place. The advantage of attaching the ratchet strap to the pole is that you are not applying down pressure to the shaft in the awning drum.
There is a commercial product that follows this general design. It's new. I would provide a link, but I can't find it. It costs about $150, so this DIY system may be more economical.
Another missing element is a "rafter"...a pole from the extended awning drum to near the roof of the camper...a horizontal pole that adds considerable rigidity to the contraption. PopUp camper awnings have these, but they are built into the frame and very easy to deploy. The monkey motion required to install rafters on an electric awning would include use of a sizable stepladder and manual placement of the rafter once the awning is deployed (as it does on a PUP, but the roof is much lower). A rafter would add a lot of strength, but it would also substantially increase the work required for setup...and it would be a serious hindrance to rapid tear down in a storm. Many of the older manual awnings have rafters built in, and they deploy and break down in seconds.
I gave up on using any kind of pole. A primary advantage of an electric awning is the ease and speed of putting it away. Now I use these simple ratchet ropes
to prevent a sudden gust of wind from folding the awning back and up and over the roof. They are very easy to release, and under extreme conditions, two people might be able to hold the ropes while a third brings in the awning. Without vertical pole supports, these are just snugged up gently, but if wind is lifting the canvas and frame, they hold it back from ruining the frame and possibly damaging the roof, skylight, vent-fan covers, and, in my case, solar panels. Their entire purpose is to buy time if one of Colorado's very frequent afternoon thunderstorms rolls through.
In the end, I like the electric awning for its ease of deployment and storage, but mine spends a LOT of time rolled up, because it's windy in the Rocky Mountains.