Take into account sun angle throughout the day when determining size, so your area is protected during the periods of expected use. For very large areas, multiple awnings will perform better in windy conditions than one very large one. When practical, use more awnings to cover the space required.
When fully open, the arms will be slightly folded to improve performance and strength. You may also use the awning with it partially open so it's a good idea is to design the seating area a little short of the full extension of the awning for maximum shade and usability.
Retractable awnings are designed primarily as a shade device and should never be left open unattended. The following — in excess — can cause damage to the unit:
Wind: A general rule is that if a newspaper cannot be left on the table without being held down, then the awning is in wind that could gust into a problem. An automated sensor can take the burden off when deciding to retract the unit.
Gusts: Most damage is done by gusting winds. Have a plan for immediate action if conditions begin to change. One of the best investments is a motor for each unit, because it allows for quicker response.
Rain: As stated above, shade is the primary purpose of an awning. However, they can also be used in light rain to a degree. What is too much? A simple rule is that if the fabric is pocketing water, then the unit must go in. The size — both width and projection, along with the awning pitch — and of course the density of the rain determine if pocketing will occur. To help maximize the amount of rain that can be shed, allow the installer to maximize pitch upon install and partially extend the awning as discussed above.
Ice/Snow: The unit should be retracted before any ice or snow occur.
Miscellaneous Do’s and Don’ts
DO use your awning to provide cool, comfortable shade on your deck or patio.
DO treat your outdoor space as an extension of your living and entertaining areas.
DO consider purchasing multiple remote transmitters if motorized, so you have a backup in the event one is lost or broken.
DO make sure everyone knows how to retract the awning if inclement weather is expected.
DON’T leave the awnings extended if there are no people outside. Extend as needed.
DON’T overextend your awning! The elbow in the center area of the arms should always have a small gap. The fabric should always be rolling from the top of the tube.
DO routinely clean your awning at least once a year in inland environments and once a month in salt water environments. Using a mild soap and rinsing with a low pressure setting on a power washer is a good approach, or hire a professional awning cleaning service. Here are some tips for awning care in salt water environments.
DON’T place heaters or lights near the fabric without consulting your installer first. Remember, the units must retract and clearance must be considered. Excessive heat may also damage the fabric.
DO use the lights designed by the industry for easier mounting and appropriate heat levels.
DON’T hang plants, fans or anything else from the units.
DO remove your valance before winter storage.
DO understand that warranties do not cover damage from wind, rain or the elements, so err on the side of caution.