Air awnings - advice please

Thomo61 replied on 15/09/2021 14:24

Posted on 15/09/2021 14:24

Dear all 

In your opinions which is the best Air Awning Manufacturer and why?  And what size would you get for [say] a 6.4m internal length caravan [width and debth please] 

Plus any tips on what to look for and what to avoid.

Cheers

Mark

KeefySher replied on 15/09/2021 14:34

Posted on 15/09/2021 14:34

We have a Bradcot Aspire Air 390 that we've used for 6 seasons now. Excellent bit of kit. 

When we looked at the NEC show when ordering caravan and awning, Bradcot were the only awning manufacturer to take interest in our questions, even leant us a tape measure to go measure the display caravan on another stand.

Think its 2.5m deep, but adequate for our use, although we tend to use it more out of summer as we use a Dorema sun canopy with an inflatable windbreak to form a sheltered area that is cool and wind free to sit out under.

EmilysDad replied on 15/09/2021 14:49

Posted on 15/09/2021 14:49

re size, just be aware about the possibility that a particular size might not clear a window &/or door. Some air awnings have just one inflation point eg Kampa, while others have multiple inflation points for individual poles & beams. We're certainly happy with our Kampa Air Ace 400 (it can be a bit big/deep for club pitches)

JVB66 replied on 15/09/2021 18:24

Posted on 15/09/2021 18:24

Just one point that is not oft mentioned, they are quite heavy to lift and thread through awning rail ,as unless in more than one piece are much heavier than a canvas seperate ,and poles 

richardandros replied on 16/09/2021 05:40

Posted on 16/09/2021 05:40

We have two air awnings - a Kampa 390 Grande which is a full 3m deep and a Sunncamp Air 390. Our van (Knaus Starclass 695) is about the same length as yours and both awnings go from the door to aft of the rear window but you will have to check the measurements on yours.

In terms of quality - both are good, bearing in mind the cost - about £1000 for the Kampa and £350 for the SC. This is our third Kampa awning and we have never had a problem with it other than a minor issue with the very first one which was immediately rectified by the manufacturer. The Kampa is much more versatile in terms of combinations of door openings etc and it can have all the panels removed / folded back to make a sun canopy.

The Kampa is a big heavy lump to get on the awning rail - even with the side panels removed but we are both in our 70's and manage it OK.  It is also a big piece of kit to dry at home if it has to be packed away wet which is why we bought the Sunncamp.  It is made of much lighter material and can be dried easily at home in such circumstances which is why we bought it and tend to use it in autumn / winter. It is also less than 2.5m deep so fits better on a Club H/S pitch than the Kampa - and we only tend to use those pitches in winter anyway - being on more spacious CLs and CS's in summer.

The Kampa has a single inflation point whereas the SC has one for the main beam and three separate ones for the roof beams which are secured in place by velcro tabs after inflation. With an electric pump, though, it's not a big issue.

Both have withstood torrential rain and winds of up to 50mph without a problem although the SC does tend to 'flex' more than the Kampa which is really stable.  Of course, with an air awning, there is no danger of damage to the van as with a poled awning.

Cornersteady replied on 16/09/2021 09:14

Posted on 16/09/2021 09:14

For many many years all through our caravanning with our family, we used a Bradcott full awning with light alloy poles, not the same awning of course as we changed caravans and it wouldn't fit, but the same brand and the quality was very good and it never let us down in any way.

Now there is just two of us we use a Sunncamp air porch awning which is great, even if I had to go back to a larger awning it wouldn't be a pole one but an air one.   

mbee1 replied on 16/09/2021 13:08

Posted on 16/09/2021 13:08

We've had two Kampa awnings.  The first was a pole awning and was great.  As we got older we bought the equivalent air awning and can't fault it.  Yes they are heavier but much easier to handle if you take the panels out.  I invested in the Kampa accessory to help you pull it through the rail and also bought the electric pump. 

All I'm waiting for now is someone to invent the pegless awning!

harry1000 replied on 16/09/2021 15:27

Posted on 16/09/2021 15:27

Our light Starcamp 260x260  porch pole awning was beginning to leak last year, still leaked in the heavy wet this year, despite my attempt to reproof it at the start of this season and it was frustrating to slide the fibre poles into place in their sleeves. It also had a tendency to pool water between caravan roof and the first roof pole - so I thought to look around for a replacement - maybe an air, in readiness for next season.

I managed to track down a little used Bradcott 260x260 Aspire Air, complete with electric pump and lots of extras, at a good price and bought it. I couldn't wait for next year to test what we had bought, so I set it up on my lawn out back with my Bailey Pageant Monarch. The 260 just fits nicely between battery box and far side of door.

I struggled on my own and I have a few health issues, so it took me a while and several rests. It is very heavy to get around the awning, especially on your own (she was at work). I then connected the electric pump to the one valve I had spotted and turned it on, not realising there were three valve and the other two were still open, so it didn't inflate until I had found and closed them (note - I never read instructions :-)

It then blew itself up fully in a couple of minutes. It seems to be very robustly built and I think Bradcott suggest it is suitable for year round use. The air 'poles' were much bigger diameter than I anticipated, in fact the centre 'pole' prevents the caravans door being opened more than 90 degrees, until you push the bladder 'pole' up out of the way. I wonder why they designed them with the poles inside, rather than outside the awning? I could have got around that, by moving the awning further forward, but that would have involved the awning being across the middle of the F/N/S window. 

For a porch style, you do need to measure them to see where the awning will land on the caravan, its windows, doors and access panels. Some have them crossing windows, but I don't like that. 

Next problem, was the caravan and awning were on a very slight side to side slope - awning slightly uphill of the caravan. Which caused there to be a widening gap between roof and bottom of awning, where it should meet the caravan's wall - this despite caravan and awning being at the same angle, but I had not pegged it out. I found dropping the pressure in the bladders from 35 to around 10 helped a lot with closing that gap.

I have had a similar issue with the Starcamp on our most used CL site  with a side to side slope and found the best compromise was a bit of guy line from the bottom nearest peg to the caravan wall, then pegged at the far side of the caravan. I find it almost impossible to bang a peg in under the caravan. I will try the same technique next year, on our most used sloping site, but will add a guy line across the side doors, to help pull the zip bottoms together, to take the strain off the zips. 

I understand the dreaded gap above, is a constant issue with porch style awnings and air porch awning are even worse in this respect. I have never understood why the designers never included an adjustable triangular section by the awning to caravan wall, to accommodate differences in angle between awning and caravan.

I have already modified the Bradcott, to make it easier to set up - I added a stitched on loop of rope, to either end of the awning rail strip, to make an attachment point for a rope to tug it along the rail. One feeding it into the rail, the other just pulling gently on the rope.

Air awnings have a reputation of being all weather, something which concerned me when leaving up a lightweight awning in predicted windy conditions. I suspect the Bradcott will prove a little faster/easier to set up than my Starcamp.

Out of curiosity I weighed my Starcamp complete with poles, versus the Bradcott complete with it's rear poles - neither with pegs. Starcamp lightweight was 13Kg, the Bradcott 20Kg.  

 

richardandros replied on 16/09/2021 15:55

Posted on 16/09/2021 15:55

"I have had a similar issue with the Starcamp on our most used CL site with a side to side slope and found the best compromise was a bit of guy line from the bottom nearest peg to the caravan wall, then pegged at the far side of the caravan. I find it almost impossible to bang a peg in under the caravan. I will try the same technique next year, on our most used sloping site, but will add a guy line across the side doors, to help pull the zip bottoms together, to take the strain off the zips."

I don't quite follow what your problem is, Harry.  Doesn't your awning have 'ladders' on the pegging out points - like these, for example? I've always found that they provide sufficient adjustment when coping with a sloping pitch - in either direction.  Plus they allow you to peg under the caravan to keep the awning side tight up to the van. OK - so they don't give you the same level of adjustment as with a poled awning but I've never had a real problem with either of our air awnings. I also use them 'diagonally' to make sure the door zips aren't put under undue strain.

KeithL replied on 16/09/2021 17:34

Posted on 16/09/2021 17:34

I've a Kampa Rally Pro which is a very good awning.

Many people have already talked about the weight to pull through the awning rail so enough said on that one.

Only thing I'd point our is to make sure you can inflate it all through a single inflation point. I believe some makes have to be inflated in stages through separate points which is just a faff. One guy on a site I was on a few years ago told me his awning had to be inflated one pole at a time, I'd have just have thrown it in a skip if it was mine.

harry1000 replied on 16/09/2021 19:40

Posted on 16/09/2021 15:55 by richardandros

"I have had a similar issue with the Starcamp on our most used CL site with a side to side slope and found the best compromise was a bit of guy line from the bottom nearest peg to the caravan wall, then pegged at the far side of the caravan. I find it almost impossible to bang a peg in under the caravan. I will try the same technique next year, on our most used sloping site, but will add a guy line across the side doors, to help pull the zip bottoms together, to take the strain off the zips."

I don't quite follow what your problem is, Harry.  Doesn't your awning have 'ladders' on the pegging out points - like these, for example? I've always found that they provide sufficient adjustment when coping with a sloping pitch - in either direction.  Plus they allow you to peg under the caravan to keep the awning side tight up to the van. OK - so they don't give you the same level of adjustment as with a poled awning but I've never had a real problem with either of our air awnings. I also use them 'diagonally' to make sure the door zips aren't put under undue strain.

Posted on 16/09/2021 19:40

If you consider the caravan is truly level and vertical, whereas the awning i perpendicular to the ground, then unless the ground is level, there is bound to be an angle between the two. Yes the ladders do allow for some height adjustment, but poles and air 'poles' do not, they are a fixed length, rather they flex and pull the bottom edge of the awning tightly away from the side of the van.

A number of people report the same issue as a problem with porch awnings on a site which is not level side to side/