Monday, June 2, 2008

Retractable Awnings

Now that summer is here, more people are looking into retractable awnings for their homes. What are some of the features and benefits of a retractable awning?

Lets start with the basics, that being the difference between a fixed awning and a retractable one. A fixed awning doesn't move of course, once it is installed it is always there. Generally these are supported by posts which potentially block your view of things. Patio awnings and deck awnings are ideal locations for the retractable version talked about here.

Retractable awnings pull back against the house, allowing additional sunlight to come into your home if that what you want. This gives the homeowner flexibility depending on the weather conditions. Also if severe weather strikes, a retractable awning can be pulled in to avoid damage to the material.

That being said, there are two specific types of retractable awnings, motorized and manual. What are the differences between these types of awnings?

A motorized awning is powered by a small motor, and doesn't require any work to expand or retract. Well, no work other than pushing a button or using a remote control. While a motorized awning will certainly cost more, it certainly cuts down on the manual labor and the effort needed to have your awning set the way you want.

A manual awning requires a little elbow grease on behalf of the owner. A hand crank is generally used to expand and retract the awning. While costs are of course lower, after a while you will certainly become annoyed with always having to go outside and do the work yourself. My general recommendation is invest in the motorized awning; you won't regret your decision later, whereas you certainly will with a manual awning.

Another great reason to install a retractable awning is that it can save you money on your energy bill. How? Up to 35 percent of the unwanted heat that enters your house comes in through sliding doors and windows. By using your awning to deflect the sun from your home on hot days, and retracting it during the winter to allow the sun to heat your home. Managing the direct sunlight hitting your home, you can significantly reduce your cooling costs during the hot months of the year. Awnings can also excessive glare as well as provide protection from UV rays.

Can you install a retractable awning yourself? In most cases you can. There is not a high degree of difficulty involved, just a few tools and a helper will do the trick. Motorized retractable awnings do require an electrical outlet, so that may be an addition expense if you need that installed on the exterior of your home.

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