Everything You Need To Know About How Retractable Awnings Work


Retractable awnings are an amazing home addition for anyone who wants to lower their energy bills, create a comfortable, outdoor space for relaxing and entertaining, and enjoy reliable protection from the sun when spending time outside. Understanding how these systems work, however, is key to getting maximum value from them. This remains true whether you’re in the market for a new awning or simply need to know more about the system you currently own.

There are Two Basic Types Of Retractable Awnings

Although there are numerous options in retractable awnings, all of them fall into two, basic categories. These are manual designs and motorized designs. Due to the more complex nature of motorized designs, these systems tend to be significantly more costly to both purchase and maintain. For homeowners who want to easily alter the position of their awnings, however, they are also far more convenient. These systems can be moved from an open and upright position to a fully closed one at the touch of a mere button. They also have manual override buttons that homeowners can use when storms or other unexpected events cut off the main power supply.

Manual Patio Awnings With Articulated Arms

Manual, retractable awnings use articulated arms to move from an opened position to closed, and vice versa. The first segment of these arms is spring-loaded, while the remaining segments will unfurl as soon as the spring tension is released. To open or unroll these systems, a simple shaft must wound clockwise. To close them, the shaft will simply need to be turned in the opposite direction. The action of cranking or winding the shaft is what causes the articulated arms to either extend or retract. The force generated by the initial, spring-loaded portion of this system pushes the remainder of the arms into a fully extended position. When the unit is cranked closed, the arms are drawn in, thereby loading stress on the springs for future opening.

Motorized Patio Awnings With Telescopic Arms

Retraction and protraction for motorized, retractable awnings rely on telescopic arms. These are narrow cylinders that are filled with gas. Rather than folding in and out like an articulated system, these cylinders can either push the awning or pull it according to the desired action. With motorized designs, there’s need to manually wind a crank in order to make these movements occur. A single, simple button often controls the entire process. Depressing this button will initiate the motor. Some high-end, motorized systems can actually turn themselves on in response to changes in the local climate. For instance, these awnings are capable of detecting strong, heavy winds and can initiate retraction as a self-protective measure. These same units can also detect marked increases in sun exposure and will in turn, open up to provide the necessary shade. This is a great feature for keeping the home cool while you’re away. Moreover, with a first-rate design, all motorized activity can be surprisingly seamless and quiet.

Which Option Is Best?

There are a number of factors that can help homeowners determine which retractable awning type is best for their needs. Any high-quality and properly installed awning will add to both the value and the marketability of homes, especially when installed in hot climates, and on areas of the building that do not get a lot of natural shade. In addition to being significantly less costly than motorized designs, manual awnings are easier and cheaper to maintain. Motorized systems, however, are easier to use, far more convenient, and capable of providing higher returns when it comes to adding value and building sweat equity. They also offer a significantly higher level of overall functioning, whether you don’t feel like getting up off your lounge to manually crank a shaft, or want an intelligent system that will protect itself during times of strong winds.