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Old 07-05-2021, 05:09 PM   #1
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2021 25' Flying Cloud
Bothell , Washington
Join Date: Mar 2021
Posts: 5
Question Zip Dee awning and wind--how much is too much?

We have manual Zip Dee Awnings. Instructions from the dealer and owners manual say to take down the awning in any amount of wind and rain?

Hoping to hear from others on this. Do I need to be this conservative? Do you keep your awning up in any amount of wind? Do you have a rule of thumb when it is getting dicey?

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Old 07-05-2021, 05:18 PM   #2
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2019 30' Classic
Belen , New Mexico
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Because of the cost of a ZipDee, If I am not actively using it and there is wind over about 5mph, I take it down. The smaller awnings we leave up unless the wind is strong and gusty. We always take them down at night or when away.

That being said, if you are sitting under the awning, you can pretty much tell if it is struggling in the wind. The problem is that wind is gusty. I have been sitting under it with a very light breeze and then suddenly we are hit with strong gusts. If you are paying attention to the trees around you, you generally have enough time to deal with it though.

I did have an instance where the ZipDee deployed fine, but then the controller died and I was not familiar enough with the manual rewind controls so I thought that they were not working (turns out, you need a power drill on high for several minutes to retract the arms sufficiently. I saw it turning and couldn't see any noticeable movement and thought it was also broke.) The Awning easily survived 50 mph gusts, but I was nervous the whole time.
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Old 07-05-2021, 05:21 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
Do you have a rule of thumb when it is getting dicey?
It's no fun to take down in the rain or wind, so take it down before that happens.
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Old 07-05-2021, 05:36 PM   #4

2003 25' Classic
Zanadude Nebula , Milky Way
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We deploy the ZD at 50% if in doubt, retract if very gusty or over 20mph. SFSG

Disclaimer...we did survive a Greeley CO hailstorm 40-55mph, we were very lucky.

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"It is more wiser to ponder all things with diligent suspicion, than follow with blind assumption."
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Old 07-06-2021, 09:14 AM   #5
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1976 31' Sovereign
2004 22' International CCD
Cleveland , Oklahoma
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Have a ZipDee on 22ft. CCD...has been through 60mph wind and 6" rain without damage, but was very lucky (surrounded by trees). I don't recommend leaving it out over 20-25mph sustained wind (it's the gusts that get you). And don't forget to tilt one side during rain!
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Old 07-06-2021, 09:42 AM   #6
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Rogers , Arkansas
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I would also add to tilt the awning with the wind. I thought it would be more arrow dynamic tilting into the wind but it was like I was in the shower with the slight wind blowing rain onto us.
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Old 07-06-2021, 09:52 AM   #7
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As long as you have a decent tilt on one side of the awning, rain will not cause a problem with the awning. Wind can be a different situation. Sometimes tilting the awning down on both sides will reduce the amount of awning flap. There is also a device known as an awning tie down strap that will stabilize an awning and minimize the effects of wind. I've used the strap at locations where non storm related winds are somewhat normal. Camping close to big lakes and ocean locations usually experience higher winds and sometimes are devoid of trees and other obstacles that usually temper wind.

However if I am leaving the trailer for the day or going to bed I will roll the awning back up when forecasts show the chance of thunderstorms. I've broken two support arms on an awning on my SOB due to rain, before I learned the trick to tip one side. The heavier the rain the more you tip that once side. I typically tilt the side of the awning in the direction of the wind if I can. That tends to temper the lifting effect of the wind. If the wind is coming directly against the trailer on the curb side (not in a storm), I will tend to lower each awning arm on click more than normal. That again tends to temper the effect of the wind on the awning.

I've got a Classic 30' Slide out and my big curb side awning has two side arms and a middle support arm. That middle arm lends a lot of support to that big awning.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56 S/OS#15
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 07-06-2021, 10:57 AM   #8
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2005 30' Classic S/O
Phoenix , Arizona
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The rule of thumb is, "If you think you should bring in your awning, bring in your awning."

Agree with others, tilting awning helps.
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:02 AM   #9
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1964 30' Sovereign
Ione , CA
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Our awning is 21' x 10'...many sailboats don't have that much sail area. Be careful. We're cautious and roll it back up once winds are 15+ knots if gusty. And don't leave the awning open while you go out sightseeing for an afternoon if there are chances of higher wind.
Mark & Melanie Trowbridge
1964 Airstream Sovereign 30' (Double)
2004 Dodge Ram QuadCab 4x4 Diesel
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:11 AM   #10
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2018 30' Classic
Hillsboro , TX
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12 mph but never leave with it open

We always keep our large Zip Dee awning closed when
  • the wind is 12 mph or greater,
  • we go to bed at night, or
  • we leave the Airstream to go anywhere.
Kevin Short
2018 Classic 30RB Twin -- "The Silver TARDIS"
2014 RAM 2500 Cummins Diesel
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:32 AM   #11
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2009 28' International
Pacific Palisades , California
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We’re windsurfers, so often camping in very windy conditions with our 28’ RB International Ocean Breeze. We also have an anemometer mounted to our TV antenna, so we can get actual velocity and are able to forecast trends to a certain extent.

We try to park head to prevailing wind but with a slight angle that exposes the service side (and smaller third awning) more while protecting the large awning. Typically, we only deploy these two larger awnings on very hot days, when the winds are typically much lighter.

Max velocity for the sheltered large awning for us is 15-16 mph. We generally take it in if it’s gusting to 12 mph, and are thinking about it around 8 mph..if it’s more exposed, we never leave it up over 8 mph.

The long service side awning has much less “sail” area. It has tolerated gusts to 24 with no problem, but we’ll typically put it away with gusts over 15-16.

The rear bedroom awning is tiny. When parked roughly head to wind, we’ve left it out in very high winds, and typically won’t retract unless it is blowing steadily over 20.

Max wind for large awning when more exposed is 8 mph.
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:52 AM   #12
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Napa , California
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The ZipDee awnings are expensive to replace, so better safe than sorry. We only deploy ours when we are using it, not at night or when we are away from camp for any length of time.

It is part of our routine to check the awnings when we leave or go to bed. Forty five years of trailering and we've seen and experienced enough awning damage to write a book. And while we all instantly think of high winds and a storm, sometimes it's things you didn't think about...a widow maker, a campfire spark (just melts a hole), a single sudden gust of wind.
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Old 07-06-2021, 11:56 AM   #13
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We pretty much follow the same guidelines as above. I don't have an anemometer, so we have to trust our instinct. The first time that the thought of closing the awnings enters my mind, that's when I close them. We camp primarily out west, so wind is a constant issue. I've had very few experiences where I could leave my awnings open for more than a couple of hours.

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Old 07-06-2021, 04:53 PM   #14
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2015 27' Flying Cloud
Cedar Rapids , Iowa
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Zip Dee Awning

I leave the awning up on my 27' Flying Cloud until wind gusts exceed 15mph. The awning is designed to be pretty much waterproof so with expected rain drop the corner oppisite the door one or two notches. In heavy rain drop one side all the way down. Pretty cool to be sitting under you awning while its pouring outside. We are camp hosting in western Oregon, awning has been open for 45 days 😁. We always drop a corner at night just in case it rains, if the awning is fully extended in a rain storm, bad things will happen as it will become a swimming pool - personal experience!
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Old 07-06-2021, 05:39 PM   #15
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What interesting is to sit under your awning when it first starts to rain. You will feel tiny droplets at first since the fabric breathes. As the water swells the fabric, the awning seals over and repels the water.

Jack Canavera
AIR #56 S/OS#15
'04 Classic 30' S.O.,'03 GMC Savana 2500,'14 Honda CTX 700
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Old 07-06-2021, 06:25 PM   #16
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Acton , Ontario
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I left my awning open during an overnight light rain a few years back. I forgot about tilting it since the rain was light. In the morning I woke to a big puddle forming in the awning. Sadly I decided to use a broom to push water to the side. As soon as I did the rear arm bent into a U. There was no dealers nearby so I removed the arm and used my hitch as a fulcrum to straighten it out. I still haven't replaced that arm as my straightening job was pretty good. To this day I close my awning religiously at any chance of wind or rain . Lol
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Old 07-06-2021, 07:57 PM   #17
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What is the awning for, anyway?

We use our awnings to keep the sun off our trailer. A windy day does a lot to mitigate the solar gain. I don’t like to roll it up wet, so it’s not left out in the rain - rainy days are best spent inside anyway.
The “caravan “ (halfway) position works great for shading us and the trailer in the hottest part of the day, and takes much less time to extend and retract. That expediency/convenience allows us to be very cautious about when we have it out, without eating into our day.
I guess my wife and I are nervous people, but we would not enjoy our time with the sounds of an awning straining in the background.
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Old 07-06-2021, 10:41 PM   #18
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2021 25' Flying Cloud
Bothell , Washington
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Thanks everyone! Very helpful.
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Old 07-07-2021, 06:15 PM   #19
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2021 27' Globetrotter
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Awning, Smauning

Well Jim,
Just when you thought the cautious approach had been ratified.. I'd like to take a contrarian approach to this position that the fragile awning cannot be left open in anything but <5/10mph.

But first, let's consider risk. Can you think of anything that we do as a species, anything, that does not carry some form, usually unpredictable, of risk. What's dependable in this universe, utterly and completely, without a doubt 100.000 ad infinitum decimal point to infinity and beyond? Nothing. Not one thing.
So, now that that's out of the way, what were we discussing? A flyweight awning that will get ripped off the side of an “aluminum house trailer” (don't get yr hackles up, I'm quoting John Prine here), in 10 seconds flat with sustained winds over 50mph, I'm guessing? (Man that would be a great UTV where some nitwit takes a perfectly good 2007 FC 25' and wind tunnel tests it to see when parts start coming off and the aftermath, like big holes in the roof and end panels... oh well, maybe another career path.) So I have taken a different approach, which some, or er, most of you will probably think is nuts, or too risky. But I thought we covered that.
I use a round shackle (1” min. jaw opening) with the center pin removed. With the shackle around the arm or shaft, insert the end of telescoping pole through the pin hole. Cap the pole w HD rubber bungies (which I replace often), twisted back onto pole to hook in tension ring on pole collar. Apply moderate tension downward onto pole with rachet bike straps. Done.

I have used this system on many different awnings on many brands. Never had a problem except water in poles. I know its been through 35+ mph winds, kind of accidentally, because I was too lazy to get up at whatever AM it was. I don't push my luck really, but don't fret about leaving the trailer when weather predictions are mild and med winds expected. I have also experienced the occasional beefy gust on a relative calm day, and I'm glad I use the poles then.

So here's to another beer under the awning, remaining seated, while the winds blow.
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"If you don’t know what else to do, drink beer."-Wally Byam
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Old 07-11-2021, 10:08 AM   #20
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We always secure awning with screw-in ground anchors just like the old timers suggest. Only close awning in extreme gusts/ winds.
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