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Old 01-17-2017, 06:51 PM   #1
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Electric power awning vs. manual

Hello, we are new to this forum and are in the process of purchasing a 2017 International Signature 30A. Is the electric awning option worth the additional cost.
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Old 01-17-2017, 06:57 PM   #2
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We don't have the power awning, but I bet you'd be hard pressed to find somebody that does.....and wishes they had manual

I'l like to have the power awning, not that the manual is that difficult to deploy and/or retract, however, sure would be nice to push a button instead.
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Old 01-17-2017, 07:30 PM   #3
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There are a few post of failures at the worst times of the electric awnings here. Have not seen any new negative post in a while. Maybe Airstream has the early bugs worked out.

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Old 01-17-2017, 07:34 PM   #4
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Maybe, but I have heard of too many of those units opening while driving with bad damage as a result. I would not trade my manual unit for the auto.

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Old 01-17-2017, 07:47 PM   #5
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We considered this as well, but the stories of failure were abundant at the time. The manual is a breeze to set up once you've done it a few times. And less to go wrong!
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:22 PM   #6
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We have had the manual awning for years, use it regularly in some 1400 days camping. It is really easy to use.

Only thing I noticed was the heavier look of the struts that hold the power awning up. The manual awning struts are rather flimsy, haven't had any trouble with them but I wonder if the power awning assembly is stronger?
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Old 01-18-2017, 05:00 AM   #7
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Colonial Airstream has a video of their annual awning race to see which is faster to deploy. Manual won easily.

Ray B.
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Old 01-18-2017, 05:17 AM   #8
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The race is not apples to apples. The 30 ft trailer has a longer awning and with a 30 ft manual awning it would have the extra middle support. Which the manual trailer here does not have.

We very much like the auto awning and yes, do worry about the motors, all 3 of them but enjoy it all the same as a manual one.

The advance meets have corrected I think the auto open when traveling. I have not experienced it, but will verify the correct board at the factory trip.

We feel that it is worth the price.
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Old 01-18-2017, 06:58 AM   #9
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Not specific to awnings, but as a philosophy, I tend to prefer manual and simple as opposed to automated. Admittedly pushing a button and watching things work has its attractions, but anything incorporating motors, microswitches, electronics, etc. etc is going to be not only more costly initially , but also I believe to give much more opportunity for failure over time, often at most inconvenient times.

Repairs are not always simply done by the owner and can lead to not ony inconvenience, but even more cost

Maybe not so bad if you trade the RV for new ever few years as our son in law does, but we keep things longer, and I find that corrosion in electrical connectors can become much more prevalent and the RV ages.

If the device does have a manual override, then I suppose the potential problems are lessened - I believe the power awning does have some sort of features in this respect but I'm not sure.

On a previous non-AS trailer we owned, i had a failure of our electric tongue jack when hooking up to leave a campground in a rain storm. Turned out there was no way to manually operate that make of jack even after partly dismantling the power head.

Luckily it turned out to be a bad ground, otherwise I would have had to delay our departure for at least a day to obtain jacks and tools to remove the old jack (flange had been welded to the A frame!) and install a new jack!

I have verified that the power tongue jack on our AS does at least have a hand crank!

If I bought a new AS and it came with a power awning, I'm sure I would like it - as long as it was trouble free, but for my money, I wouldn't be paying extra to have one installed.
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Old 01-18-2017, 07:08 AM   #10
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Based on the cost/benefit ratio, I would not opt for the power awning. They have been somewhat problematic, and after playing with my Brother-in-law's, I am not impressed to the point of spending the money.

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Old 01-18-2017, 08:56 AM   #11
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Stow , Massachusetts
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We just received our 2017 in November. I too thought about the power awning.
So I called a when known Airstream tech out west and he told me he has 40-60 hours in repairing the power awnings.... and mentioned if it won't retract
and you need to get on the road ....then what? I also have been informed that AS makes a lot of $$ on that option. We opted for the manual.
Good luck with your discussion.
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Old 01-18-2017, 09:15 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Adventure.AS View Post
Colonial Airstream has a video of their annual awning race to see which is faster to deploy. Manual won easily.

I don't about such things, but I do know that I can't run around like her and risk spilling my beer!!!

"One of the best lessons I've learned is that you don't worry about criticism from people you wouldn't seek advice from."

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Old 01-18-2017, 10:52 AM   #13
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Ah, another one of those "you gain a little here but lose a little there" scenarios. I too like to keep things simple. The more complex the machine, the more things can go wrong. That is how my dad felt about electric windows in cars. I had an SOB with a slide and had trouble with it. Also had trouble with the power jack on that trailer.

And, another issue for me is the use of electricity. We are not always hooked up to power. I am healthy enough right now that putting up the awning is not difficult for me. Putting it up and then bringing it in every night or when the wind blows would be an issue for us when boondocking.
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Old 01-18-2017, 10:54 AM   #14
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The manual awning and manual stabilizers don't bother me a bit.
I am, however, very grateful for an electric tongue jack.
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:43 AM   #15
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I was camping with a friend when his power awning motor failed and could not retract. Fortunately, he had the manual and after several readings, we thought it wouldn't be too difficult to retract manually. The manual retraction of power awning is not a simple task and could quite challenging for one person. In addition, as we found out, the struts are under hydraulic pressure and can become unguided missiles if not removed or retracted correctly. If you're on the road and need repairs, parts and replacement for manual awnings are much easier to accomplish and order. I will say ZipDee is pretty good about support and ordering.
Bottom line: Powers awnings are very convenient until something goes wrong.
The ability to follow instructions is highly underrated.
Always be wary of stupid people in large numbers.
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:46 AM   #16
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I have had both on my Airstreams. I currently have the power awning. I like the convenience of the power awning. especially if the weather turns foul. I do worry though about failure to retract. I have not had such failure yet. If boondocking and your batteries get low the awning will not deploy/retract.
I broke a claw on my manual awning. I ordered the part and repaired it.
Toss a coin.
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Old 01-18-2017, 11:55 AM   #17
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There's more to opening an awning than is shown in the video. On my awning there's a center hook that needs to be turned, and at each end there's a clamp lock that also needs turning.

The parts can be turned with the Zip Dee tool, but I carry a step stool and turn the clamp locks by hand. This was all done in advance of the "race" video between manual and electric, which makes it look like the entire process takes seconds rather than a few minutes.

Still, I wouldn't opt for power. The awning is fast and easy to open once you watch the Zip Dee video with the tips and tricks that's on YouTube:

Happy Camping!
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Old 01-18-2017, 12:01 PM   #18
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anything electric is one more thing to break without easy manual recourse, IMHO. The manual awning is simple in nature to operate.

I think the only reason I'd (personally) ever consider an electric awning is if they had an API into it's control circuit; that I could write a script to auto-retract if the +15m accucast has a wind or storm forecast above a certain threshold. Even then though, that'd be one more thing to break or drain down my batteries... Until that, I would be just as fine with a manual.
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Old 01-18-2017, 12:17 PM   #19
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In our rig I sometimes swing the manual awning arm down off the trailer and attach it to a small square of wood secured to the ground with tent pegs. The wood has a clip that I slip a cotter pin through (I use the same pin when replacing the awning arm on the side of the trailer). This approach saves having to duck around the awning arm every time we come in or out of the trailer (we have a rear bed, so the door is up front). I learned this trick from someone in our Unit and it works really well. This is not possible with a power awning.

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Old 01-18-2017, 12:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by MarkandDebra View Post
Hello, we are new to this forum and are in the process of purchasing a 2017 International Signature 30A. Is the electric awning option worth the additional cost.
We purchased a 2014 27FB with the electric awning from an Airstream dealer last summer. The Awning worked fine at the dealer but failed soon after. I fixed it with new parts from Zip Dee. They really stepped up to the plate. They recommended I remove all the electrical butt connectors installed by Airstream and solder all the connections. This did not solve the problem. They sent me a new motor (which turned out to be much stronger) new lift struts, and a new circuit board (which was a new design) and new front and back lift struts. I followed instructions on their website and installed all this stuff and the awning now works well. Zip Dee provided all the parts free and only asked that I ship the replaced lift struts back to them, which I did. They also paid for all the shipping. In summary Zip Dee has substantially redesigned the electric awning and they have great customer service. I would not hesitate to order the electric awning. It has some nice features. The Awning can be extended to any distance and the edges of the awning can be dropped to allow rain to runoff. Camping with my son and his family last summer the awning on their massive 5th wheel failed after a night time storm. I had not problem.
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