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How to open an RV awning

RVs allow us to enjoy all that the great outdoors has to offer— but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to be exposed to the elements at all times. An RV awning is an essential feature for many that allows you to experience nature in comfort. This is why a lot of people choose to get fancy with their RV awnings, going for high-quality material that will block out the sun’s rays during hot summer days. 

A nice awning is useless if you don’t know how to use it, though! Opening an RV awning isn’t as easy as it may seem, and you’re not alone if you’re having problems with this seemingly simple task. 

Opening your RV awning

It may seem like a difficult task at first, but opening your RV awning is something anyone can do once you get the hang of it. 

Start by making sure you’ve parked your RV in a comfortable, level spot that is free from any trees or obstacles where your awning will roll out. Once it’s in position, you’re ready to get started. Here’s how to open an RV awning safely and successfully.


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1. Loosen the rafter knobs

The first step in opening an RV awning is to loosen the awning’s arms so that you can move it around more freely. Locate the black knobs on the awning arms (they should be at the back of each arm) and turn them until they’re loose enough that the arms can move. Be sure not to take them out completely, though. You’ll need to tighten them later.

2. Unlatch the travel locks

Next, you’re going to unlatch the travel locks from the arms. You’ll find them on both support arms. If you have anything else securing your awning, untie those now.

3. Flip the ratchet mechanism open

Next, find the locking lever near the front of the RV and use the awning rod that came with your RV to change the lever’s position. The lever should be in the position labelled “close” right now, and you want to use the rod to adjust it to “open”. 


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4. Opening the awning

The awning arms should be nice and loose now, allowing you to finally open the awning itself. Take the awning rod you just used to adjust the locking lever and hook the strap loop with it. This will let you pull out the awning. Keep pulling slowly and carefully until the awning is completely extended. 

Don’t panic if the awning isn’t easily rolling out. It’s possible that an arm is jammed, but this is usually easily fixable. If this happens to you, simply pull the awning rod back slowly while you loosen the arms until the awning comes out. This is easier if you have someone to help you, but you should be able to do it yourself.

5. Lock the rafters and tighten the knobs

After extending the awning, you must lock the rafters into the proper position. Push them until they’re all the way to the top. You’ll know you’ve gotten this part right because you should hear a click sound, indicating that they’re locked in place. 

Remember those black knobs you loosened on the backs of the awning arms earlier? Now you’re going to tighten them again. While you’re doing this, be sure to add tension to the arms by pushing down on them, as this will ensure the awning’s fabric is tight. 

6. Raise the awning

Finally, you’ll raise up the awning to the position you prefer by extending the arms. This simply entails raising each arm until the awning is lifted as high as you want it to go. Two people makes this step easier, but again, it's doable with one person.

We recommend lifting each side bit by bit if you’re by yourself until the awning is how you like it. The final positioning is really up to you, but you’ll want to leave room to come in and out of the RV’s door and keep the awning pitched. This way, if it starts to rain, the water can slide off the awning instead of pooling on the fabric and damaging it. 

With that finished, you’ve successfully learned how to open an RV awning! Now you can relax in comfort.


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Closing your RV awning

Congratulations, you’ve opened your RV awning! Now you might be wondering how to close it back up. It’s simple enough and mostly just involves reversing the process we just used to open the awning. 

First, you’ll want to make sure that the awning is clean in case any rogue elements of nature have collected on it. It's also important to ensure that it’s dry if it has recently rained.

When you’re ready to put it up, start by loosening the black knobs on the awning’s arms until you’re able to bring the inner arms into the RV and lock them in place. You’ll do the same to the rafter arms after. When these are locked in, take your awning rod and switch the locking lever back into its original “close” position. 

Now you’re ready to roll the awning back up. Put the rod through the strap loop like before, and walk the awning slowly and carefully into its slot. When you’ve gotten it back in successfully, make sure the locking lever is properly locked and tighten the black knobs on the arms. 

All you have to do now is fasten the travel locks, whether that means tying the material back together or pushing the tabs until they’re properly locked. With that step, you’re done! 

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