How to Setup, Open & Close Your RV Awning

rv awning

On a hot day, an awning on your RV or motorhome is the the ultimate accessory. It may be a relatively simple device, but it has the power to transform your camping experience.

Providing that much-needed shade, it allows you to sit outside, enjoy the views, whilst maintaining a cool temperature. If you’re thinking of going places like Navada in summer, trust me, an awning should be one of the first things on your equipment list.

Before setting up your awning, find a good spot, position your van as required (keeping in mind the sun) and make sure you’re level.

Once you’re ready, it’s time to get the awning up. I personally find this is a good activity to do pretty soon after arriving at a new campsite, so you’ve got the shade if you need to it whilst you get setup.

What is an awning?

So, for anyone wondering what an awning is, it’s a device used to shield a person or object from the sun.

Many RV’s come with commercial awnings as standard equipment (you’ll have to check the specs to see what kind of shade system your RV has).

If your RV does not come with awnings, you may wish to use an aftermarket awning service.

There are generally two types of awnings that you will find on RV’s and campers:

Soft Awnings: Soft awnings can be manually closed by slinging them around a frame or projecting them onto a vertical pole. They are also manually opened by winding them open or closed. They can be mounted at ground level, roof level, or some combination of the two.

Fixed Dome Awnings: Fixed dome awnings are rigid and mounted on a roof. They are manually opened by extending an arm to pull a cord. They can be manually locked back into position by pulling the cord in the opposite direction.

How Do You Open (or Raise) a Manual Awning?

To raise a manual awning, the easiest way to do so is to use a manual awning winch located at the front of the RV, typically mounted near the ground.

The crank has a steel wire that is wound around a pull handle, creating a coil of wire along with the bayonet that the wire passes through.

When unfastening the coil, the bayonet loosens its grip on the wire. You’ll need to guide the wave around to 18″ from the cam lock end of the wire.

This is the length that the steel wire provides when unfolding the awning.

Once tightened, the awning will be raised and secure.

Soft Awnings

To manually open a soft awning, you will need to approach the awning head on.

Locate the pull drawstring and grasp it. Pulling the cord upwards will release the awning from around the slings underneath.

Sling the fabric by putting your right arm through the some of the fabric that you managed to pull back.

With the fabric in your right arm, use your left arm to crank the awning down by pulling the cord in the opposite direction.

To close the awning, reverse the process by using the cord as your pull so that it is in the same direction.

Fixed Dome Awnings

To open the awning, reach behind you at the base of the awning and find the cord. Crank either hand-wheels on each side of the awning to reveal the awning.

To trim the awning, adjust the safety pins so that they are closer to the roof.

To close the awning, crank the awning back down the direction of sun and safety pins up.

How Do You Close (Or Lower) a Manual Awning?

To lower the awning, simply release the tension of the steel wire that is wound around the crank.

After this has been completed, release the awning lever or strap holding the awning back.


What part of the RV does the awning attach to?

An RV awning attaches to the front of the RV, usually just in front of the driver’s side door.

The awning may be hooked or fastened to the axel of the motorhome, on the ground, or the bottom of the wheel well when the camper is not jacked up.

How do you detach the awning from the RV?

The process to detach the awning from the RV varies depending on whether you carry it around your RV with you.

If you carry the awning with you on your RV, you can release the tie loop, which is the ring located near the horizontal bar that holds up the roller banner.

Once detached from the RV, release the tension on the steel wire by grasping the skin of the winch with the hand that is not holding the wire loosely.

The operator will guide the wire back up the winch until it is coiled up again, tightly enough that it will not loosen during transport.

It is always good to remember to make sure that the awning can’t be blown up before you travel in order to avoid a broken awning that could leave you stranded while on the road.


The ultimate goal of storing your awning so that it is not exposed to the elements is a worthy one.

Such coverings as sunscreen and barriers such as the awning should be washed, dried, and put away in a way that minimizes the risk of damage.

The best way to store an awning is to secure it with rope that pulls from the top and bunches the fabric as it is going back. Tie the bunches together tightly, then twist and secure with a simple knot.

Slightly lower and pull on the ropes to relieve any looseness from the awning. Trim the ropes so that they are shorter and then tie again, securing the outside of the knots tightly.

Other Ways To Protect the Awning

In addition to the process outlined in the example, there are other ways to protect the integrity of the awning.

For instance, you can DIY with crates, bricks, or PVC to create a protective tray that can help shade the fabric from direct sun exposure.

You can also use an old form of “barn door” to cut off the sun’s rays (and help prevent abrasion between the top of the awning and the RV roof) by constructing an A-frame door from plywood or scrap 2x4s.