Last Updated on March 16, 2023 by Jessica Lauren Vine
It’s time to learn how to do an RV power awning upgrade to make camping more fun and enjoyable.
For decades, camping has been a beloved pastime for millions of people all around the world. In fact, the number of people that camp in America has been around 40 million people since 2006. Whether it’s tent camping, sleeping under the stars, or chilling in an RV, camping is meant to be a relaxing and reviving experience.
If you happen to be fortunate enough to own an RV and prefer to camp in style, there are a few tricks to making it as enjoyable as possible. Most newer RVs come equipped with many toys and modifications that didn’t come standard on older models—improved slideout capabilities, fireplaces, electronic tow hitches, and so much more.
One of these improvements is the power awning. It’s never fun to take the time to manually pull out your awning and take up to an hour to set everything up just right. Then, there’s the hassle of racing out in the middle of high winds and stormy weather to manually retract your awning to ensure it doesn’t blow away.
Fortunately, camper owners now have the option to do an RV power awning upgrade to an electronically controlled awning system. If you are one of these individuals, read on to learn more about how to do an RV power awning upgrade.
Make Sure You Have the Right Tools for the Job
If you plan to undertake an RV power awning upgrade by yourself, the first step is to ensure that you have the proper tools to get the job done. When undertaking DIY projects, there are few things more frustrating than having to constantly run to the store every time you need a new tool.
RV awnings are unique items and may require specific tools that you don’t typically have laying around. To properly do an RV power awning upgrade, step one is to purchase an electric awning conversion kit. Without this, upgrading your awning will immediately hit a wall.
Electronic RV conversion kits can be purchased online. This kit will contain essential items such as a receiver box, connecting wires, idler side head, motor side head, harness, wax screws, switch kit, and other accessories. Are you getting overwhelmed just thinking about all these pieces? Don’t worry because we will walk you through how to do an RV power awning upgrade step by step.
Install the Remote Control Box
The remote control box is the brain behind the electric awning operation. You can have all the other parts from the awning conversion kit, but it will do you no good without the remote control box.
The most important thing to remember when installing the remote control box is to put it in a safe place where there is no chance of damage. Take time to ensure that the control box will be out of the way of direct and indirect sunlight and hung on a wall that is out of the way of traffic and seldom used.
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- Need to have hydraulic cylinders in your current awning
Carefully Make the Electrical Connections
Let’s preface this by saying that if you have little to no experience working with electronics, it is recommended that you contact a professional. Working with electric connections can put you in danger of being shocked and is also a fire hazard.
Having said this, let’s take a look at making the proper connections. Locate the user manual that came with your electric awning conversion kit and carefully follow the directions therein. Step one is going to be to familiarize yourself with the wiring harness of your RV. This will differ from RV to RV, but most will contain a four-core cable attached to a six-pin plug.
Having familiarized yourself with the wiring, attach the four-core cable to the awning system, being careful to follow the color-coded wiring scheme. Match each wire on the cable to the corresponding color on the awning. Next, connect the six-pin plug to the control box, following the same color-coded method as with the four-core cable.
Finally, connect the control box to a power source to provide electricity to start up the box. To do this, first, make sure that the power supply you are connecting to is turned off and does not have electricity running to it. Once this is done, your RV power awning upgrade is nearly complete!
Test the System
Now comes the fun part, seeing if your hard work and following instructions paid off. It’s essential to test the system before taking your RV camping to ensure that everything is working correctly.
Make sure that the power is turned on and the receiver control box is plugged in and working. Take the remote control that came in your electric awning conversion kit and press the extend and retract buttons. If your awning moves in and out with no trouble, your RV power awning upgrade is complete!
Electric Awning RV Kits/Awning Conversion Kit
The electric awning RV kit or awning conversion kit is a wonderful package that allows you to switch out your manual awning for an electric one. The kit will contain all of the items needed to convert your awning from manual to electric. This includes the receiver box, connecting wires, idler side head, motor side head, harness, wax screws, switch kit, and other accessories.
Do I Need to Purchase a Whole New Awning?
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The easiest way to do an electric awning upgrade from a manual awning is to purchase and install an awning conversion kit. Unfortunately, this may not always be possible. Depending on your RV’s year, make, and model, you may have to purchase a whole new awning system.
This would mean that you must purchase a new awning, new awning arms, and an awning conversion kit. When this is the case, installing your new electric awning may prove more difficult than expected. It is highly recommended that you call the RV manufacturer and see if your camper awning can be upgraded with only an electric conversion kit.
In the unfortunate case that you must purchase a whole new awning system, instructions will be provided, but the task will be more difficult. It may be wise to employ the assistance of a qualified RV technician.
Know When to Seek Professional Help
It’s essential never to be too proud to ask for help when you’re learning how to do an RV power awning upgrade. While installing an electric awning conversion kit may not prove to be as complex as replacing the entire awning system, it can still be a trying task.
It’s no simple task to mess with electrical wiring, especially when the wiring may be live. RV technicians are trained and capable of dealing with these small but dangerous electrical connections.
RV technicians will also have the right tools and ample training to switch out your manual awning for a new electrical one if necessary. While an awning conversion kit will contain all the items needed to switch your manual awning to an electric one, it does not include all the tools you may need. Having a professional do the job for you will save time and potentially money if buying tools is required.
Can You Convert a Manual Awning to an Electric Awning?
When doing an RV power awning upgrade, knowing who the manufacturer of your RV is can make or break your project when it comes to how to do an RV power awning upgrade. Only they will know for sure if you can convert your existing awning into a power awning.
If your existing awning cannot be converted into a power awning, your manufacturer will likely have a good awning conversion kit. Using this kit, you will be able to switch out your manual awning for an electric one.
Sometimes, people want to save money when buying a new RV without all the bells and whistles. Purchasing an RV with a manual awning instead of an electric one will definitely save you some cash.
If you want to go this route, it would be wise to find out if your manual awning can later be switched out for an electric one should you choose to upgrade. Ideally, you would be able to do this with just the electric awning conversion kit rather than purchasing a whole new awning system.
We’ve all been to a place where saving money is crucial. Planning ahead is also extremely important. Take heed not to make the mistake of choosing a make and model of RV where the awning cannot be quickly and cheaply upgraded.
How to Do an RV Power Awning Upgrade – Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about how to do an RV power awning upgrade that you need to check out.
Can you replace just the fabric on an RV awning?
Yes, but if you only have small holes, you can even put a patch on it.
What is the best RV awning replacement fabric?
Awnings are normally made from acrylic, polyester, or vinyl. You can use any of these depending on which works best for you.
In Conclusion – How to Do an RV Power Awning Upgrade
You now know all the ins and outs of how to do an RV power awning upgrade. When purchasing an RV with a manual awning, it’s essential to know if it can be upgraded easily and for a reasonable price. With a little bit of planning and communicating with the RV manufacturer, purchasing an RV with an easily upgradable awning shouldn’t be a problem.
Camping is meant to be a relaxing, rejuvenating experience. Whether you camp one weekend out of the year or if you’re a full-time RVer, having a functional awning is essential.
Now that you know how to do an RV power awning upgrade take the next steps to make your RV feel a little more like home. Purchase your awning conversion kit, carefully follow instructions, ask for help when you need it, and enjoy your new electric RV awning.