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RV Awning Replacement: Made in the Shade

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

RV enthusiasts tend to spend much of their time outdoors and one of the most practical accessories is a patio awning. It’s the perfect device to keep the sun off the motorhome, which not only moderates inside temperature, but also provides the necessary shade to enjoy a cup of hot coffee on the patio or share a meal with friends during a warm afternoon.

Our friends are active campground hosts so spending most of their time outside is part of their daily routine. After years of rolling out the awning on their coach, the fabric had seen better days. Wanting to make the most of their dollar, and improve the overall appearance of the motorhome, it was high time to replace the old, sun-faded and torn awning. In addition to the patio awning upgrade, they elected to install three window awnings for additional privacy and shade.

The awning to be replaced was a Sunchaser made by A&E (which is now Dometic), and the fabric was a single layer of vinyl that was highly weather-beaten. The new patio awn­ing is a model 9000, also made by Dometic, the company’s top of the line manual awning. The three matching window awnings by Dometic are its Elite models.

All of these awnings come standard with a woven acrylic fabric and a protective aluminum weather shield that covers the fabric when stored in the rolled-up position. Woven acrylic is far more elegant in appearance and much more durable. Not only are there a multitude of appealing color options for the fabric, there are also four color options for the aluminum weather shield and mounting hardware: white, black, champagne and satin (colors can be viewed at www.dometic.com/usa).

The Dometic 9000 fabric and roller tube for the new patio awning and assembly come with both springs wound to the proper tension and secured by two cotter pins. The preassembled hardware bolts to the spring assembly with a single ¼-inch bolt on either end.

Sliding the new awning into the motorhome’s existing awning rail required the recruitment of two helpers. With one helper at either end holding the upright hardware arms, from atop the roof, the awning fabric was guided through the awning rail. The patio awning, although an upgraded model, bolted into the same holes as the old awning, which facilitated the installation. Before installing the new screws, clear silicone sealant was applied in the holes to ensure that the coach was best protected from any water leakage. Once in place, the cotter pins (one on each end) are removed and the awning is ready for manual operation.

Installing the matching Elite window awnings proved to be a bit more of a challenge as there were no existing awning rails. After measuring the awning rail and the window, the halfway point was marked for each. Following the directions, the awning rails are mounted above the window. Just like the patio awning, the smaller window awning fabric and roller tubes come with the springs wound with the cotter pins in place.

The next step was to attach the two arms with the mounting brackets using ¼-inch bolts, and with the help of one other person the window awning was slid into the rail above the window into place. Each arm is measured carefully on both sides of the window to ensure proper alignment with the window. At this point, the bottom brackets are mounted per the instructions – again making sure that all holes were sealed with silicone sealant. After pulling the cotter pins, the awning can be extended so that the bracket that secures the strap to hold the awning open can be mounted. The same process was then repeated for the two other new Elite window awnings.

The patio awning install took one hour and the three window awnings took 1½ hours each. The retail prices of the awnings vary by size. The coach we worked on was 34 feet long, so we installed an 18-foot awning; the cost of the 9000 Series is $950 and the Elite window awnings range from $285 to $550.

Although a time-consuming project, the installation is relatively simple and the end result greatly updated the motor­home’s overall appearance – and the owners were absolutely thrilled.

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