Retractable awnings are designed to protect you and your family from the harsh rays of the Sun. But they provide many additional benefits to their owners. A high quality retractable awning will also keep you dry in a light rain, reduce heat gain in your house, reduce annoying glare, stop interior fabric fading and make your deck or patio a cool, comfortable place to relax. Retractable awnings come in all sizes and varying levels of quality. In general, if you make an investment in a quality retractable awning, you will have made an investment that will last for years to come. Like gas grills you can spend a very little on a product that will last for a year or two or you can make an investment that will provide years of reliable and beautiful protection from the elements. Please continue reading as we describe the features you should look for in a quality addition to you home.
The torsion bar acts as the shock absorber for the retractable awning. When the awning moves, the system transmits the energy of the movement to the torsion bar. Many refer to the torsion bar as the key stabilizer of the retractable awning, yet use inferior thin wall steel or aluminum. At Eclipse we use both steel and aluminum torsion bars, depending on the application. When possible we recommend a steel torsion bar for maximum strength. But alas, not all steel torsion bar is created equal. We use 2-millimeter thick walls in our torsion bar. Don’t settle for less in your investment. In highly corrosive applications we increase the wall thickness to 3mm and use an aluminum torsion bar for added protection against corrosion.
The retractable (lateral) arms transmit tension from the internal springs to the front bar in order to keep the fabric tight. This arm system allows for an awning that requires no poles or upright supports. In a comparison of arms many focus on the system used to connect the spring to the front part of the arm. Many US manufacturers are using exposed single or double cables and or chains. At Eclipse, we have employed Advanced Belt Technology® or ABT®. The ABT® system is made up of nine stainless steel cables totally sealed in a poly carbon UV resistant PVC coating. This state of the art tensioning system creates more stability at the front bar resulting in a high performance awning. The ABT® system also guarantees a long life for your arm. While cables have been tested to 5000 cycles (a cycle is one time in and out) and chains have been tested to 8,000 cycles, the ABT® system has been tested to an amazing 60,000 cycles. What this means to you is simply the best looking and best performing retractable awning available.
An arm assembly (or shoulder) is used to connect the arm to the torsion bar. Many companies use a less expensive extruded piece bolted together; while others use a three or four piece cast aluminum arm assembly. The Eclipse™ has a two-piece cast aluminum shoulder with a “sure lock pitch-adjustment”. The sure lock pitch-adjustment assures your pitch will stay in place, saving the hassle and expense of frequent pitch adjustments.
The front bar is where the fabric is connected to the frame at the front portion of the awning. The valance also connects to the front bar and hangs freely in a decorative manner. As in the previously mentioned components, strength is key in the front bar extrusion. Our front bar has a very large perimeter for added strength. Engineers often refer to this as the “I factor”, similar in concept to an I- beam. Think of roof or floor construction where 2×12 boards are used (not 4×4) because of the strength the 12-inch perimeter lends. This added strength keeps your front bar from bending and combines with a strong roller tube for a great looking and great performing awning.
The fabric rolls around the roller tube when the awning is retracted and unrolls off the roller tube when the awning is extended. The roller tube flexes and returns to form as the awning moves in the breeze. A straight roller tube combined with a straight front bar means a great looking awning, as they maintain the square cut of the fabric. The Eclipse™ features a 78mm steel roller tube for strength and stability.
The fabric provides the cool (and beautiful) cover for your retractable awning. Today the high quality retractable awnings use solution dyed acrylic fabrics. These marine grade fabrics have the color embedded in every fiber. This ensures that they won’t fade significantly over time. Acrylic fabrics are available in hundreds of decorator patterns and easily match outdoor furniture. Eclipse features Dickson® and Sunbrella® fabrics, which carry a 5-year warranty against fading, rotting, mold and mildew. In addition to their beauty, acrylic fabrics put the block in sun block. Acrylics block up to 98% of the harmful UV rays of the sun, allow you to use your deck or patio, keep your house cool, save you $$ on air-conditioning, reduce glare, stop interior fading and did we mention use your deck or patio. Acrylic fabrics are used on the upper end retractable awnings for their strength, stability, beauty and extensive selection. Don’t settle for less than acrylic fabric for your investment.
Installation Brackets are the connection between the awning and the house. Good solid installations brackets can be made from either extruded or die cast aluminum either will work just fine. The key to a solid installation application is the distance between the two lag bolts, which attach the bracket to the wall. Our installation brackets maximize the distance between the lag bolts while maintaining a compact design.
The hood protects the awning from the elements when it is retracted and also gives the unit a clean and finished look. While not absolutely necessary, the hood is recommended whenever the unit is not installed under some form of protection, like an overhang. We use an aluminum hood for strength and durability.
Motorization (like awnings) is cool. Cranking your awning in and out gets old over time. Our experience tells us that people use and enjoy their awnings more when they opt for motorized units. Simply touch a button and your awning reacts to your every command. Eclipse features Somfy® motors and controls. Somfy® has a wide array of remote and automated controls including sun and wind sensors.
The Eclipse Crossed Arm™ is a specially designed awning, which enables a larger projection than the width of the awning. No Kidding! So if space is tight you can still get cool, comfortable shade with Eclipse. Ask your Retractable Awning Specialist if the Crossed Arm System is right for you.
Great American Awning’s installers are retractable awning specialists, they provide solar solutions for a living, and they know what they are doing. Many a handy man has tried to tackle the retractable awning only to become frustrated and call for help. Don’t make this mistake; have your investment installed by a retractable awning specialist.