Awning buying guide - everything you need to know
An awning is a key component of any caravan trip, and by far the best way of getting the most out of your caravan. A well-chosen awning can extend your caravan to up to double its size, and may end up being where you spend a lot of your time. There are hundreds of great awnings on the market from dozens of different manufacturers, each with their own special features.
When buying a new awning, there are a few things you need to take into consideration to ensure the awning fits your caravan and your requirements. Read our guide to find out everything about choosing the ideal awning for your caravan.
How much will an awning cost?
Prices start from around £90 and can set you back over £2,000. The big names include Isabella, Dorema and Ventura, but there are plenty of other manufacturers making great products too.
Types of awning
Also called air awnings, inflatable awnings are extremely easy to erect. Rather than using a metal structure, air is pumped into an inflatable frame. Sometimes a combination of air and steel is used. Because they have fewer (or no) steel poles, they are much more lightweight than conventional awnings.
A porch awning is a small extension for your caravan and provides a great space for storing sports equipment, wet clothes, bicycles or your pet dog. Porch awnings are easier than a full awning to erect and disassemble and are usually more portable, meaning they fit any caravan or motorhome. This type of awning is attached to the ground with pegs, and sometimes guide ropes, much like a tent.
These types of awning are designed for the caravanner on the move. They are made with more lightweight material, are easy to erect and easy to pack up and transport. But have a limited lifetime
If you’re looking to create the most space possible outside your caravan, a full awning is what you should aim for. These sturdy constructions are stable and extremely reliable and enable you to create one, and in some cases two, extra rooms for the ultimate comfort.
Depending on the model chosen, a caravan awning may include any of the following features:
• Mosquito net windows
• Window Blinds
• Roof light strips
• Ventilation slits
• Harlequin strips
• Draught skirts
• Veranda poles
• Lacquered roof (for snow protection)
• Spiked feet
• Lightweight pole options
What size awning do I need?
Awning size is calculated in relation to the length in centimetres from the ground, up around the awning rail, and back down to the ground. This is called a ground to ground measurement, and it is usually quoted in the product description. If you are unsure of your ground to ground measurement, most manufacturers can tell you if you provide your caravan’s brand and year of production.
Awning manufacturers vary in how they use the ground to ground measurement. For example, Dorema and SunnCamp have a numbering system from 4-18, whereas Kampa and Gateway’s awnings come with a three-figure measurement which corresponds more closely with the ground to ground measurement. For example, if your ground to ground measurement is 890cm, you’d need a size 900 awning from Kampa, or a size 10 awning from Dorema or SunnCamp.
When you are buying a porch awning, you need to be aware of two measurements in order to be sure it will fit your caravan.
• The height from the ground to the awning rail
• The length of the caravan section where the awning will sit
NB: It is also worth bearing in mind where your porch awning will sit in terms of any doors, windows or hatches you may want to use once you have erected it.
Choosing an awning
If you have an idea of what type of awning you want and some experience of using awnings already, it’s probably safe for you to purchase your product online or via post from a catalogue. However, if you are less sure, it may be worth finding out if any stockists have showrooms where you can go and see the awning erected. This way, you can get a feel for the awning and what it might be like to use it. Subscribing to a caravanning magazine is also a great way of educating yourself.
Once you have chosen which awning is right for you, you can kit it out with the accessories to make it cosy, easy to use and practical. These may include:
• Carpets and other flooring
• Annexes/storage tents
• Spare pegs
• Storm tie-down kits
Once you have got your awning up and in use, there are a number of things you can do to ensure it stays fully functional for as long as possible.
It is important to ensure your awning is aired sufficiently inside and out, to avoid condensation building up which can result in mildew, rot and frame corrosion. Always make use of ventilation flaps and check regularly for damp.
It is important to deal with any holes in the canvas as soon as you become aware of them. Clean and dry your awning thoroughly, then apply a reproofing spray to the leak.
Your awning should be cleaned using water and a soft brush. Do not use detergent or other cleaning products. Simply spray on water, then loosen any dirt with the brush. Then remove the dirt with water. This should be completed around twice a year, while the awing is erect. Never use cleaning products on the PVC windows.
Packing and storage
Always ensure your awning is clean and 100% dry before folding it up. If you are unable to do this, hang it up to dry within two days. Protect the windows by storing them with cotton sheets between them. The awning needs to be stored in a dry area that is well ventilated.