Retractable Awnings

creatrix(z7 VA)June 21, 2005

Has anybody used one? I saw an ad in a magazine for them- they have the new sunproof (?) fabric. A client has a raised brick patio, and it's really too hot in the summer - it faces south. There is a tree coming along, but the patio is at second story height, so it's going to be a while yet. I was thinking a retractable awning would be good for the summer, and then pull it back in the winter for sun and heat. Maybe they could get a ceiling fan to go on the pergola structure.

Any opinions out there?

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My sister in law got a big one for her deck. She is disappointed....the angle of the sun versus the isn't totally helpful. Sun comes in the side to the majority of the deck. Maybe hold a sheet up or something to see if it shades the area at the time of day it would be used.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 7:59PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

There is shade to the west and east, it's mostly the middle of the day sun that gets the area. I'm also concerned about cutting off air flow, but the shade might be worth it.

Has the shade performed ok- retracting and coming back out?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 9:01PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

We had one put in several years ago. The fabric held up well, but the mechanism was never quite right. It would stick and jam periodically and was a pain to deal with. I think our installation crew didn't do a very good job. They did come out to fix it but it didn't help much.

After several years, we had a home addition built and decided not to reuse the awning.

They are VERY difficult to retract in the wind.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2005 at 10:49PM
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snow_mani(VIC Australia)

I'll add my 2 cents worth...

I am located in Australia. The company I work for put a retractable awning in place to shade the office windows from the summer sun.

The cloth part is fine and provides great shade... but the mechanism that puts the shade in and out has never worked properly. It has been in place for nearly 4 years now. And it is a huge pain in the backside. Despite numerous "repairs" the mechanism does not work properly. It jams and sometimes the automatic cut-off does not work. So the motor keeps going and going and going when the shade cloth has fully retracted. This places a strain on the cloth and the mechanism. Sometimes the mechanism does not wind the cloth in evenly. So you end up with some of the cloth hanging out on one end. And it is very touchy in windy conditions. It seems like the slightest breeze makes the whole thing jerk and pull - it often seems like it will pull the side of the building off...

With regards to airflow, here in Australia you can get all different types of cloths and canvases for retractable awnings. For more air flow you can choose a more porous cloth for the awning. Also the higher you place the awning the better. This is because hot air rises. If the awning is placed at a low height there will be nowhere for the hot air to go and you will be hot while you are underneath it. Of course, don't place it too high or the wind will get under it and cause problems!

Hope this helps you :)

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 2:25AM
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My sister in law's awning is mounted on the inside corner of her "L" shaped house. She hasn't had any problems with the mechanism. Air flow is fine on breezy days. On a hot, humid, stagnant day, the whole yard is hot, humid, and stagnant so I don't perceive the awning as a detriment.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 8:33AM
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My parents have one and I have some friends here in southern Maryland that have one and they both love them. I ordered some regular canvas awnings for my windows from a little outfit over in St. Michael's MD last summer and was very pleased with the product, service and delivery. I think they carry the larger retractables as well. You might want to check. I think they were called PYC awnings. Google should pull them up.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 9:14AM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

Thanks, I appreciate the info. I'll pass it on to my client.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 11:24AM
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I work for a canvas company. Retractables are terrific, BUT they aren't fool-proof. You have to "babysit" them, remote sensors are NOT guarantees!

Aesthetically, I'd never have one on my home. They wouldn't be able to fulfill our need for insect control, nor would the site be conducive to appropriate installation.

You need to speak with an awning company... they will assess the site differently and give you good information.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 4:50PM
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lpinkmountain(5b/6a border PA)

I spoke to a woman in the neighborhood who had gorgeous awnings all over her patios, both on the ground floor and on a second story deck. She said there are companies that will install them, and put them up for you every year and take them down at the end of the season. That sounds like my kind of deal, and would be worth it without the hassle. It's not retractable though, but IMHO why bother with that, just something to break, leave part under shade and part open.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 9:08PM
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elaine_mi(z5 Michigan)

I have had one for about three years, the mechanism works just fine. In fact, we have a manual retractor, basically a long wand, as well as an automatic one that we could use. The automatic one has never even been out of the box.

The shade it provides is just fine and I don't perceive a lack in airflow. The only problem with our situatiaon - raised deck, low sloping roof - is that the awning slopes a bit too much for my taste.

My advice would be to find a very reputable LOCAL awning company, I'm not too sure about the one you see on TV and magazine ads.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 7:42AM
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DrynDusty(z8 AZ)

I'm new to this forum. We had an awning like that (18 feet across) on our motorhome years ago. It was a constant source of aggravation. A strong wind whipped it loose from it's moorings and tossed it back across the roof. I'm still surprised it stayed attached. It came loose when rolled up and stowed, at 65 mph, mind you.

After all that, I'm thinking about a retractable for the deck of our new house. Do they come with an insulating fabric, perhaps quilted, to block solar radiation? How about a highly reflective surface?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 10:33AM
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I work for the sort of company that lpinkmountain referenced.

"When it comes to canvas we cover it all"

Retractables are wonderful; but they aren't the perfect solution for every application. And THAT'S why I suggest you call a canvas company (better yet, 2 or 3!).

    Bookmark   June 29, 2005 at 9:51PM
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They pretty much suck. You get "what you pay for".

We field several calls yearly about "servicing" the "sunsetters" (cheapies). Replacement parts are virtually non-exisitant, or are (at best) not great quality. We steer clear of "patch jobs" whenever possible (like milkin' a goat!). When you sell nice quality retractables the last thing you want to do is sign on to patchin' up cheap-ass models every year! Most people blanche when they hear the hourly rate for a service call. If you buy from us the service calls are free within the warrantee period...

Me? I have a fixed frame awning over our deck... . I made it and installed it all by myself this year. Trust me if you dare... ;)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 2:03PM
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I bought a motorized rectractable awning from Costco (aka Sam's Club) last year. The manufacturer is Sunsetter Awnings.

I live in a brand new home with NO shade due to not having any trees around (landscaping just finished but we'll save that for another thread). My back yard faces southwest and we literally "cooked" on my back deck on hot sunny days... the awning has definitely helped us enjoy our back yard.

This summer I bought the extension kit that comes with side and front sun screens that also mount to the awning (someone in this thread complained that their awning had no side protection). They are simple slide-in panels that take about 5 minutes to set-up.

My only beef with the awning is that it CANNOT be used on windy days. Having it open on a windy day would likely cause major damage to the awning... so it must always be retracted when not in use and on windy days. Simple click on the remote control takes care of that.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 6:50PM
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Picking a nit here, but Costco and Sam's Club are most definately not the same businesses. Sam's Club is WalMart. Costco is a responsible employer and community presence.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 1:57PM
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Thanks for pointing that out Mary... that's very important to some here. They don't have SC in my province... and just assumed that they were somehow related. My bad.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 11:46PM
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Ummm... duh...

Retractable awnings are effectively horizontal "sails", you guys! Wind gets under them and forces them up... no amount of lateral arm technology (regardless of the cabling and bushings) is going to withstand the pressure of windgusts associated with storm fronts. Sorry. You can't "idiot-proof" the world, sadly.

Retractables are great products; but you get what you pay for, and when you pay for one, you assume the responsibility that goes along with the product. The expensive ones have higher quality "guts" and more parts (Eastern Awnings). That means when a part fails you can replace it... you aren't stuck replacing the defective part and all the attendant parts that were fabricated in a "unit". But if you think the "wind and rain" package is an insurance policy... READ THE FINE PRINT.

I work for an awning company and I'd never own a retractable. "Old school", sorry! :)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2007 at 7:48PM
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I know this is an old thread, but thought I'd revive it as I have been considering an awning for the south side of our house. We get cooked in the summer due to lots of south-facing windows, so I am considering an awning - retractable or fixed - over the area that will be a deck (now just lawn) across the entire south side of the house (above first floor windows). My concern is (1) how a rectractable awning will look when it is retracted, and (2) what the brackets for a fixed awning look like in winter when the awning is removed. Would anyone be willing to comment, or post photos???

Thanks very much.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2008 at 9:55AM
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carol6ma_7ari(zones 6 & 7a)

We avoided the low quality awnings by going to a recreational vehicle (RV) show and choosing the RV awning company that made the sturdiest and best. Then we arranged for the nearest RV and trailer supplier that carries that brand (Dometic) to measure our house - not RV! - and install the awnings.

They are not motorized but roll out and in by pulling on a ribbon tape, and are spring-loaded. One uses a metal wand with a hook on the end to grab the tape and to reverse the spring direction. Easy to use. They completely roll up at night, in the winter and when a hurricane is coming, and look like an unobtrusive dark roll over the sliding doors and windows. You can get them 18 ft. long or more. But they roll out only to 8 ft.

We opted for the vinylized fabric which is really waterproof. Our place is near the ocean so we needed heavy sturdy awnings that have secondary side supports to keep sudden squalls from lifting and bending the frames. And the frames are aluminum, so they don't rust in the salt air, and don't need paint. The striped canvas would have been prettier, but would have needed waterproofing solution painted on every year.

I recommend going motorless, for awnings; checking out RV awnings instead of Sunsetter and other brands made for houses, and testing the shade area you need beforehand with poles & sheets. If you visit an RV and trailer store/show, you can try out their awnings to see if you like how they work.

Many cool and shady hours to you!


Here is a link that might be useful: PPL RV Parts Superstore

    Bookmark   February 4, 2009 at 9:58AM
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I've had my retractable for a couple of years and love it. My house with deck faces southwest and would bake in summer. AC had a hard time keeping up. I put the retractable over the deck and the interior of the house was much cooler. It's usually not that breezy here in summer so wind hasn't been a problem but I do roll it in when wind gets over 17 mph or in rain.

I live in a rural area that often loses power so I went with manual rollup. It's not difficult-but my awning is only 10x12. This doesn't shade as much as I would have liked. From 11am-1pm-angle is just wrong. But I plan to put another similar sized one right next to it that will increase the coverage. (I needed to roof mount and had skylights, since removed, in the way when I bought the first one.)

Mine is Sunair-but I think there are several good manufacturers of awnings. But even the good manufacturers may offer a cheaper model. Go for one with heavier metal and ss cable or chain. Mine was once up in 30 mph gusts-no damage to awning but it did need to have the angle it hanged at reset-one screw, I think, I did it myself. Been fine since.

Looks great, too. Gives the house a summery, vacation house appeal.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 7:46PM
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We're thinking of buying a sunsetter 1000XT with the add a screen room and the sun package. If anyone has purchase that model and all the extras, I would like to know what you like/don't like. Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 11:57AM
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annainva(z7 MD)

I have had retractables for years and one finally gave it up to squirrels who insisted building their nest at each end and ate through the fabric TWICE for an additional cost of $800 for material and installation. I would recommend installing the ones with manual retraction mechanism. We never had a problem. Just make sure you roll them in during extreme wind or rain.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2009 at 12:56PM
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We had a Sunsetter retractable awning which worked flawlessly for roughly 10 years. It made a southfacing cottage and deck bearable. We always retracted it on really windy days or anything but a light rain. They also had non-electric models with side posts that you could leave out in wind and rain but we didn't want to obstruct the view and sun was our primary concern. We just rebuilt and no longer need a sun awning so ours is waiting in the garage to be picked up by one of the kids for their deck.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 10:35PM
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neverenoughflowers(6 SEPA Downingtown)

We purchased a Sunsetter from Costco last year and are absolutely thrilled with it. It comes with a remote and extends and retracts with the touch of a button. Ours faces south-southwest and has made our deck bearable for the first time in 16 years. You can also adjust the pitch to help with the sun coming straight in. They also offer side curtains as an option, but we don't need them. We have had no problems with it and would highly recommend it.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2009 at 10:27PM
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My husband was thinking of getting a SunSetter for our patio this spring. I went to the SunSetter website but it really didn't have many pictures of the awnings. Also we need to mount it on the roof and the site didn't have any information on that also. Any help would be appreciated!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2011 at 7:04PM
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hartford(PA 5)

Check out

Its a forum with a lot of information on the SunSetter Awning.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 12:07PM
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We are looking at a large Sunsetter retractable awning, but have been reading a lot of negative reports. Does anyone have a current issue with Sunsetter? ( late 2011 or early 2012 )

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 10:06PM
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hartford(PA 5)


Take a look at most of the complaints on those reports. 85% off them have to do with the installation. Thats the problem SunSetter has letting homeowners install them. You also have to remember that they do sell thousands more then any other retractable awning company out there.
The warranty is a basic prorated warranty (not very good) but they do have an upgraded warranty that is not prorated and even covers wind damage.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2013 at 2:53PM
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