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What Are Retractable Awnings & Why Should You Care?

Aug 29, 2008
Probably the most pressing issue here is, "What are retractable awnings?"

If you're willing to listen to me answer the question, you probably have some idea about the advantages of retractable awnings, even though they are just now starting to show up in the consumer consciousness. In this article I'll discuss the factors that are causing awnings to attract a growing base of customers--including frequent return customers and referrals. Let's start with the basics.

So what exactly are they? Chances are that you have the basic idea right: an awning is a custom-sized piece of waterproof material that is stretched on an aluminum or steel frame and installed on a building's roof or wall. Awnings don't require poles (which would clutter the view) since they are attached with spring-loaded mounts. The "retractable" type of awnings differ from basic, immobile awnings in that they last longer (can be rolled up in damaging weather) and allow a space to be used in a variety of ways--both drinks in the shade and stargazing, for example.

On the large end of the spectrum, awnings today can be upwards of 30 feet in width and around 14 feet in depth. They are controlled automatically, via weather sensors or a remote control button, or by hand, using a manual crank. Either way, these awnings can be unfurled or retracted in less than a minute.

What are the practical implications of this? When you want to cool an area down, like a concrete poolside or overheated deck, shade is just seconds away. Likewise when rain disturbs your outdoor plans--there's no reason to run inside. If you want to tan in the direct sun, or take advantage of some heat on a cold fall day, the awning can be rolled up just as quickly. When stored, retractable awnings take up about six inches of horizontal space on the side of a building. Installed at a downward angle, they need to be attached at least seven and a half feet off the ground.

All right, we've covered "What are they?" Now let's deal quickly with the benefits that awnings give home and business owners. What can retractable awnings do for you?

Obviously, they give you a way to control the elements, and this is more than an aesthetic pleasure, since it preserves furniture from bleaching and lowers utility bills. By controlling sunlight you'll find yourself getting more use out of the amenities and spaces you already own: poolside, deck, balcony, patio; grill, gazebo, outdoor bar, hot tub. But there's more.

Awnings act as an extension of your home, adding square footage to your home or commercial building. They allow you to expand the look and feel of your interior into the outdoors, serving as an architectural addition, but without the typical costs. No contractor or expensive installation is required. In the residential setting, this results in outdoor space for entertaining, relaxing, and eating. In the business setting, it means additional room to seat patrons, serve customers, or hold meetings. In both cases, the "outdoor rooms" end up adding value to the business or home.

On top of this, awnings result in direct energy savings. Installed strategically, they make the inside of a building up to 15 degrees cooler, cutting direct sunlight and shading windows. This reduces glare by 94 percent and can cut utility bills by over 30 percent. So in the long run, awnings pay for themselves.

That concludes our Awnings Intro. Now you have a better idea of what retractable awnings are, and why they are attracting a growing consumer base. Are you interested? There's more to learn!
About the Author
AJ Vanderhorst writes about the numerous benefits of retractable awnings . A world of bright aesthetics and cool, flexible, outdoor living awaits your discovery. Explore contemporary awnings at Retractable Awnings .
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