4 FAQs About Retractable Awnings

Retractable Awnings — Lancaster, PA — Shank Door Co.

Now that outdoor temperatures are rising, you should cover that uncovered outdoor patio or deck with a retractable awning. The right awning can turn your rarely used outdoor area into a comfortable outdoor extension of your living space by shielding your family from heat, and UV rays.

However, you may have some questions about these awnings before you decide whether or not a retractable awning is right for you and your home.

Read on to learn the answers to four frequently asked questions about retractable awnings.

Where Can An Awning Be Mounted?

You have many options when you choose where to mount your retractable awning. These awnings can be mounted directly onto exterior walls, onto the roof fascia, on the roof soffit that lies on the underside of roof eaves, or directly onto your roof. However, depending on your home design, some placement options may attach the awning to your home securely and help the awning provide optimal shade more easily than others.

Ideally, your awning should be mounted at least 8 feet away from the ground. However, an awning with a very large projection length, which is a measurement of how far it extends outward from the side of your home, may need to be installed higher than this.

Should my Awning be Flat or Pitched? 

While flat retractable awnings are available and can be a good option in some cases, pitched awnings are typically a better option for most homeowners.

The slope of a pitched awning helps rainwater shed from the awning more easily instead of encouraging it to pool on top. In addition, a pitched awning is much less likely to be uplifted by wind than a flat awning, and an awning with a steep pitch provides optimal shade on a sunny day. The recommended minimum pitch for a retractable awning is about 3.5 inches for every 12 inches of awning projection.

While your awning installation expert will calibrate the pitch of your awning upon installation, most retractable awnings have adjustable pitches that a homeowner can later reset if they decide they would like to try a steeper or less angled awning pitch.

How Do Lateral Arm and Drop Arm Retractable Awnings Differ?

While there are several types of retractable awnings on the market today, drop arm and lateral arm retractable awnings are two of the most common residential retractable awning types.

Drop Arm Awnings

A drop arm retractable awning is typically composed of a weather-resistant fabric attached to a roller tube and two spring-loaded side arms. To extend this awning type, you use a hand crank or remote to trigger a motor to roll the fabric out of the roller tube as the spring-loaded side arms drop down. Then, to close the awning, you use the same crank or remote control to trigger the roller tube to contract the fabric as the side arms extend back upward.

These awnings are typically relatively small and used to shield a home’s exterior windows and doors from the sun.

Lateral Arm Awnings

Lateral arm retractable awnings are also equipped with roller tubes and awning fabric that rolls off and onto the tubes as the awnings are extended and retracted. However, these awnings are equipped with torsion bars and tension arms instead of spring-loaded arms. This unique design allows this awning style to be produced in sizes and with weight that a drop arm awning frame cannot support.

For this reason, lateral arm awnings are typically used to shade larger areas, such as decks and patios. Both hand crank and motorized lateral arm awnings are available.

How Do Awning Sensors Work?

Some motorized retractable awnings can be equipped with sensors that trigger the awning to automatically open or close when they sense a change in the environment.

Just a few of these available sensors include:

  • Sun sensors. While indoor sun sensors trigger the awning to extend when the sunlight entering the room adjacent to the awning becomes too intense, outdoor sun sensors cause the awning to extend when the sunlight shining on the patio or deck below the awning becomes too bright.
  • Wind sensors. These sensors trigger an awning to retract when outdoor wind reaches a pre-determined speed that has the potential to uplift or damage the awning.
  • Indoor temperature sensors. These sensors cause the awning to extend when the indoor temperature in a room adjacent to the awning reaches a predetermined high temperature.
  • Daylight hour sensors. These sensors prompt a retractable awning to open upon sunrise and retract when the sun sets each day.

While retractable awning sensors are optional, they can take the guesswork out of when to retract and extend your awning to help keep your family comfortable and protect your awning from the outdoor elements.

If you are considering having a retractable awning installed over your uncovered home patio, porch, or deck, you now have more information to help you decide which awning type is right for you and your home. Contact the awning experts at Shank Door to schedule residential retractable awning installation today.

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