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This page I wrote for my old rv website RVforSaleGuide.com before developing the Vanabode as the best travel vehicle for cheap easy long term road trips. People still like big rv's despite the much greater cost and trouble to operate, so here's what I know about them.
RV awnings are the single most important exterior option you should buy. I don't suggest buying any rv, new or used, without awnings unless you have the time, money and a plan, to have them added. As of May 2006 we have traveled over 33,000 miles in 10 years of rving and lived in our motorhome full time, or camped out of it, for over 1,912 days. My experience is that awnings are the single most important exterior option you can buy. The problem is they are MUCH more difficult and expensive to ADD later than nearly any other option. SO, I strongly recommend buying an rv with them already installed. If you need to add them though, do so they are well worth the time and money.
My first rv did not have awnings and since then all my motorhomes have had them. I would not be without an awning for each window and a large one for the patio ever again. One of the biggest reasons is heat. We travel and stay extensively in hot climates like Florida, Texas, Arizona, Nevada and southern California and the single most important issue in keeping your motorhome cool is stopping the sun and heat BEFORE it gets to the windows, glass and exterior walls of your coach.
Most rvs do not have adequate insulation, and even though the air conditioning systems are usually quite good, it still pays dollar for dollar to invest in a good exterior awning system.
Awnings offer you the ability to leave your windows open while you play outside. While camping or at any sporting event, awnings allow you to socialize and meet new people without them entering your camper which has all of your personal belongings. You can leave your coach "open" without worrying too much about rain coming in the windows should it pour while your gone. Many people underestimate the value in this. It is REALLY nice to be able to leave your bedroom windows open at night while you sleep in places where it is cool enough to sleep without the ac. This way you can boondock or dry camp without paying campground fees or running a loud smelly generator.
You can opt for just an awning or a camper awning with a screen room which extends your living space. They also provide shade on both the inside and outside of your camper which is especially needed in the summer. Whether you are looking at new or used campers, an awning should be the first accessory you add on. If you don't have the extra money to spend on a camper awning then you probably shouldn't buy one.
Rv window awnings take about 4 seconds to close and the big patio size awning takes one person about 3 minutes to open or shut. With some care a high quality rv awning system with good fabrics will last 10-14 years in the weather. They are easy to operate, cheap for what you get out of them, and make rving much more fun because they protect you from the weather, the single biggest enemy of rv construction and longevity (outside of mechanical failure).
Rv awnings are MUCH more difficult and expensive to ADD later than nearly any other option. In retrofit situations, the dealer has to locate, through the exterior walls, the upright supports that will properly support the bolts to secure the awning system to your rv. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen awning installations done wrong. Many after market companies just screw the braces wherever they seem to go best, right into the skin and exterior finish of the recreational vehicle.
When an installation is done wrong the awnings can literally rip the side wall right off. This most often happens during high winds and the stress it puts on the camper from the awnings hardware and canvas weight. In retrofit situations, the dealer has to locate, through the exterior walls, the upright supports that will properly support the bolts to secure the awning system to your camper. If you don't have awnings, or need rv awning repair or replacement invest in them immediately but hire a professional dealer to install it.
Visit used campers, rvs, and motorhomes for more help choosing the right camper the first time. If you don't have awnings, invest in them NOW! Hire a professional to install your rv awning.
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