Are you the proud owner of a brand-new Retractable Awning installed by Atlantic Awning?  Maybe you are considering purchasing one? Here is some helpful information . . .

Let’s start with the type of retractable that we are talking about here. There are actually retractable window awnings, retractable roof awnings, and your basic retractable lateral arm awnings that are frequently used on decks and patios. We are talking about the last one here.

Retractable Lateral Arm Awnings are so named because the spring-loaded arms extend and retract laterally – or somewhat parallel to the ground. Somewhere in the early ’90s, these awnings became so prevalent in the awning industry that they started to be called simply: “retractable” or “retractable awnings” even though there are many different types of awnings that have the ability to be retracted by any means. For simplicity’s sake, we will be calling lateral arm retractable awnings “retractable” throughout the rest of this article.

When properly cared for, retractable awnings can give years and years and years of shaded outdoor enjoyment. Check out the new Commercial Retractable Awnings and Residencial Retractable Awnings.


MODES OF OPERATION – Manual vs Motorized

Many people choose to have a manually operated retractable, while others go for a motor. Why is that? And what are the pros and cons of each?

Motors:  No fuss, no muss, just press a button and your awning goes out. Press another button your awning comes in. Years ago, having a motorized retractable meant that the customer would also have to hire an electrician to hardwire the motor to a switch – usually interior. That would happen after the installation, and then our installers would have to come back to set the inner and outer limits of the unit after the electrician was done powering it up (limits to be discussed later on).

While the hardwired option is still available, we have found that having an RTS motor (one that can be operated by a remote) is so much better. With an RTS motor, all you have to do it plug it in, and within minutes our installers can get the remote and the motor “talking” so that they can set the limits and be done without having to schedule another trip. One and done.

Also – only with an RTS motor can you also get a wind sensor for your awning. It is actually a motion sensor. If it senses that your front bar is moving too much (because of the wind) it will automatically pull your awning in to protect it from damage.

Atlantic Awning always sells Manual Override motors on our retractable for the customer’s protection. If a motorized retractable is in the out position, and the power should go out for some reason, the awning can still be retracted via a hand crank with a manual override motor. It is extremely important to protect the awning from damage in case there is a storm, and you need to get your awning in.  A hand crank is provided with every manual override motor.

Manual Gears: Having a manual gear retractable is a great way to go too!  These days, cranking up your awning is a breeze. We make sure that we get you a crank handle that is a good length for you and a specific height of your awning for ease of use. We usually recommend a motor once the awning is 20 feet wide depending on the projection because it can get a bit tedious with a hand crank for something of that size. The gear ratios are set for whatever size the awning is for optimal ease of operation. Gear Ratio = how many times the crank handle needs to turn for one full rotation of the roller tube.

Note: Retractable awnings can be let in or out, and cranked in or out at any increment you desire. Our installers set the inner and outer limits on motorized retractable so that it always stops at those predetermined limits to protect the awning and the motor. So – the awning can be stopped and started anywhere between those limits. A manual gear retractable can be rolled in and out to anywhere desired, but it should not be rolled out past where the fabric starts to get loose. If that happens, bring it back in until the fabric is taut.



A retractable awning hood is an extruded aluminum covering that usually matches the frame and goes over the top of a retractable to protect it from the elements. Many retractable get installed under overhangs and do not require protective hoods.



Our installers set at least a 5-degree pitch on retractable, but often up to a 15-degree pitch or more is used. The greater the pitch, the better the wind resistance and the more sun coverage. The specific measurements and architectural features of a building help us to determine exactly how high to put the awning and what to set the pitch at. Usually, the bottom of the front bar is 7ft from the ground, deck, or patio. When Atlantic Awning installs a retractable awning, our installers will set the pitch on the awning before they leave based on their professional expertise, and the customer’s input. Sometimes people may have a view they do not want to be obstructed, so they have the pitch set higher. Sometimes people want a little more privacy, so they have it set lower, and so on. More information about retractable Awnings maintenance.