Caravan porch awnings are pretty popular with our guests here at Horton Common. In many cases, they provide a good middle ground between the inconvenience of not having an awning at all vs the time and effort of putting up a full-sized caravan awning. With a porch awning, you have somewhere to leave muddy shoes and potentially for a muddy dog to sleep. Furthermore, when its not a calm and sunny day a porch awning provides some protection from the elements. Hence, when you open the caravan door you are not letting in rain and you are protected from the wind. So with this post, I wanted to discuss some factors to consider to help you choose the best caravan porch awning to meet your needs and budget.
I’ve written quite a few posts now around the topic of caravan awnings which I will reference throughout this post. For instance, whether its a caravan porch awning or a full-sized awning you will have to decide on air vs poles. Both have their pros and cons. Furthermore, in the summer months when the weather is calm, hence less chance of wind and rain a roll-out caravan awning may be a better option than a porch awning. While a porch awning is quicker/easier to put up than a full-sized awning, a roll-out awning is quicker still. If you are still unsure if a porch awning is your best option I have a summary post on the best caravan awnings. That post covers small and large awnings as well as air vs pole awnings etc.
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Introduction to Caravan Porch Awnings
We actually get quite a few locals who live within just a few miles of Horton Common visiting us. In many cases, they will have just bought a new caravan and they want to play about with it. To find out how stuff works before they drive miles away from home. On more than one occasion I’ve had local guests turn up with a second-hand caravan that came with a full-sized awning. Putting up a full-sized awning can take quite a bit of effort and time, especially if you have never done it before. Therefore, more than once when I’ve come to see a guest who has put up a full-sized awning for the first time I’ve heard them say ‘never again!’.
For most caravanners, a huge awning such as this aptly named Westfield Jupiter is far larger than they really need or would want to put up: Image – Amazon.co.uk
I then normally end up having a quick chat with them about their requirements and how they use their caravan. In many cases, a more suitable option would be a smaller porch sized awning for their caravan. Typically, if you are staying on a caravan site for just a couple of days/weekend a porch awning is the better option. Then again, if you are touring as a couple and not a family a porch awning may be your better option in all circumstances, for a stay of a couple of days or weeks. Its a similar situation with motorhome awnings.
How to Pitch a Caravan Porch Awning
Before I start to discuss my specific thoughts on the best types of porch awning I wanted to reference a video I found from the Camping and Caravanning Club on putting up porch awnings. They discuss a couple of factors to consider such as where the doors, windows and vents are located on your caravan. Furthermore, they reference both air/inflatable caravan porch awnings as well as pole porch awnings:
Something I do think is worth quickly referencing as the caravan in the video above reminded me is the performance of caravan three-way fridges and awnings. So if you notice in the video above the fridge vents are next to the door. Hence, once the awning is erected those fridge vents are within the awning. Well, in the hot summer months this can potentially be a bit of a problem, with reduced fridge performance. As the fridge vents are within the awning, they will receive less ventilation from the wind. As discussed in my caravan fridge vents post you may need to consider adding vent fans. Obviously this potential issue with the fridge vents is not just applicable to porch awnings, but all caravan awnings, apart from roll-out sun canopies.
Inflatable Air vs Pole Caravan Porch Awnings
I as I have discussed in one of my earlier posts on air awnings, they have grown considerably in popularity over recent years. They are perceived to be easier to put up than pole awnings and in some cases that’s true. However, as discussed in other posts I’ve written, what you need to be aware of with air awnings is they are generally more difficult to get in the awning rail compared to pole awnings. With a pole awning, you are just lifting the awning fabric into the rail. With an air awning, you are lifting the awning fabric along with the attached air poles. Therefore, I’ll often comment that I think air awnings are simpler as you are not having to deal with separate poles, but not necessarily easier due to their weight.
A typical example of a Kampa Inflatable Caravan Porch Awning (Rally Air Pro 260): Image – Amazon.co.uk
However, with regards to the potential weight issue of air awnings, I believe its less applicable to porch awnings. As porch awnings are smaller than a full-sized awning the total weight of the air awning you are having to pull through the awning rail is obviously less. An air awning cover with attached air poles will still be heavier than a pole awning fabric of equivalent size, but the difference in weight will not be as significant.
Caravan Porch Air Awnings and Head Height
The image above is of a Kampa air awning, its a brand I frequently see used at Horton Common. However, they are generally one of the most expensive options of the air awning. Furthermore, with any air awning, leaks are a possibility, and you need to be prepared to fix them. There are cheaper porch air awning alternatives to Kampa such as that in the image below. However, you need to note the difference in the design of the awning and the available head height.
A Sunncamp caravan air porch awning 260cm wide: Image – Amazon.co.uk
So if you compare the image above of the Kamp air porch awning and the Sunncamp air porch awning you will notice the different design. Both of these awnings have a width of 260cm. However, the Kampa is significantly more expensive than the Sunncamp. If you look though, the Kampa porch awning has three air support beams which go high up on the side of the caravan. The Sunncamp, by comparison, has just one curved air beam at the front of the awning for support. Hence, you have fair more head height in the Kampa awning as a result. Furthermore, due to the design of the Kamp air porch awning, you can unzip the end wall and add an annexe such as the example below.
An example of a Kampa air awning annexe suitable as a sleeping area. However, they also have a taller annexe alternative: Image – Amazon.co.uk
Now the Sunncamp awning example above may be suitable for your needs if you don’t need that much space. My main point is don’t just the compare the cheaper and more expensive air awnings purely on their length and width. The difference in head height between the different air awning designs can make a big impact on how you can use that space within the awning.
Don’t Discount Pole Porch Awnings
Now, personally I do like air awnings. Here at Horton Common, we have higher than average wind speeds and I think as a general rule air awnings cope better at higher wind speeds. Air awnings move with the wind instead of trying to just stand up to it. Though I do believe both air and pole awnings need decent storm straps and pegs. However, you are still currently having to pay a significant premium for an air awning. For instance, the Kampa Rally Air Pro 260 referenced above is over £700. Whereas a Kampa Rally 260 with aluminium poles is under £300.
This aluminium pole version of the Kampa Rally 260 is less than half the price of the inflatable air version: Image – Amazon.co.uk
With a large awning, you can have lots of poles to deal with and it can potentially take quite a bit longer to put up than an air awning. However, with a porch awning, there are significantly fewer poles. Therefore, the difference in time and effort to put up an air porch awning vs a pole porch awning may not be that different. You really have to consider if that relatively small difference in effort and time of air vs pole porch awning is worth potentially double the cost.
Conclusions on Caravan Porch Awnings
So from my own observations over the years since I have been running Horton Common I do think in many cases porch awnings are a more suitable and cost-effective option. In terms of whether I think air vs poles is the best porch awning option, it depends on the specific product and your own budget. Sure, if you can afford an air awning version you will commonly find it a bit quicker to put up and easier to take down. However, I believe the difference in time and effort between pole vs air awnings is less significant with porch awnings. Therefore, if you are on a budget its likely you could put that several hundred pounds of saving to a better use. For instance, you could purchase the best awning groundsheet or wheel arch cover.
Thanks for reading the above, I hope you found my comments useful to help you pick the best caravan porch awning to suit your needs and budget. I also hope in the near future you consider coming to visit us here at Horton Common caravan site. 🙂