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Pros and Cons of Motorized and Manual Retractable Awnings

Aug 2, 2008
So you want to buy a retractable awning for your outdoor living space? Congratulations, they're a great investment in your home and quality of life that will increase the value of your property and make your outdoor living area pleasant, even during the warmest months of the summer. But before you give anyone the numbers on your credit card, you should inform yourself on the different style, types, and features that can be found on retractable awnings. This piece will give you an overview, so read on.

Retractable awnings come in power-driven or manual versions. Motorized patio awnings operate on regular 110V electricity via a tiny, concealed motor that raises and lowers them. Some come with remote controls that can be used to run them from a distance, and others are toggle operated via a locally-wired control box. Motorized patio awnings have no vertical supports, so the area beneath them is totally open. Instead of vertical supports, they have telescoping arms that slowly unfold as the awning is opened, and retract into their storage area as the awning is closed. While this is nice for the open space it creates underneath, the downside is that they're not as steady in high winds as the manually-operated retractable awnings with vertical baring members. You may want to take the level of wind speed in your area into account before you decide which one is best for you.

Manually operated retractable awnings are engineered to be easy to extend and retract. As mentioned above, manual versions offer numerous advantages that automatic retractable awnings do not. For one (as stated before), they're more stable with vertical support members. For another, they're less costly and easier to install. You don't need to run electrical wiring to the motor or the toggle, which bypasses one of the potentially more complicated installation troubles. Also, the vertical support arms allow certain accessories to be used. When left extended, owners can turn their patio awning into a 2-season space install mesh to keep out bugs, or hang lights. The disadvantage of the manually operated version is, of course, that it must be manually raised and lowered. A minor nuisance at worst.

Both motorized and manual patio awnings can be installed on any outdoor surface with relative simplicity, including brick, vinyl siding, shakes, stucco, or cement board. Both can also remain out-of-doors during the cold months, even if you live in the north where winters are ruthless. They are designed to withstand the worst weather and be ready to operate when the season changes and you endeavor outdoors for another wonderful spring.
About the Author
Allen Wright is a freelance writer who follows whatever topics hold his interest. Look for more information on retractable awnings and other retractable awning information here.
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