Add On High-Wind Auto-Retract KIt for Power Awnings??? - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 05-22-2013, 12:20 AM   #1
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Add On High-Wind Auto-Retract KIt for Power Awnings???

Loving my 2 cub-side power awnings on the new rig... but wonder about leaving them up & open when I go riding off on my motorcycle for the day.

A perfect example occurred today:

I left the campground this morning to clear skies. When I stopped for lunch around 2PM, I checked the weather radar app on my iPhone to find a few pretty good sized red thunderstorm cells moving directly towards the campground... and I"m a good 50 miles away.

Thankfully I arrived back to my rig to find no damage... but was told by others that the winds kicked up pretty good at times, and the storms were accompanied by pretty good sized hail.

So I dodged a bullet this time... but...

As such... does anyone know of any add-on kits for these things... or do I have to buy completely new awning systems if I want that feature?

Thanks...
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Old 06-24-2013, 07:38 PM   #2
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I have the electric awnings on my rig as well. I have always found it prudent to push the button and retract them before I leave for even an hour. I also roll them up before I go to bed at night. No sense in challenging mother nature when they are so easy to roll out or roll in. Besides that the auto roll up feature is one of those things that can always fail in doing what they are supposed to do. Just my opinion.
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Old 06-24-2013, 09:43 PM   #3
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Yep, I agree with the above. I can see where the automatic retractors might be a real pain. A little wind here and there or a little gust might send the awnings rolled up against the rig. Then again, they might not sense the correct amount of wind and you might return from your scooter ride to find your awnings flung over the top of the rig.

Roll 'em up when you're not there, roll 'em up at night unless you want to do it later when the wind picks up suddenly.

I'm all for automatic stuff but sometimes it's best to do it by hand, just to be sure you know.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:35 AM   #4
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Hey folks... I just wanted to come back and update this thread. I meant to do this a few weeks ago, but simply forgot about it.

As it turns out, Carefree does indeed make an add-on kit that will retract your power awning if it gets too windy. It's called a Direct Response Upgrade Kit. I bought mine at Amazon.com for about $80 each (one for each awning).

Amazon.com: Carefree (SR0093) 12V Direct Response Upgrade Kit: Automotive

First, the good news...

They work GREAT!! The main unit is a small box that installs next to the motor head at the end of the awning. I'm assuming that it's just a simple mercury switch that, when shaken enough so that the liquid mercury ball trips the circuit, the awnings automatically retract fully closed.

Since I've had them installed, they've been tested successfully here in my driveway, where I usually have my RV connected to shore power with the awnings extended. On at least 3 occasions now (last night being the latest), we've had storms blow through the area with gusty winds... and the awnings have auto-retracted every time.

Now for the not-so-good part: having them installed is EXPENSIVE.

(Long story follows. If you don't wanna read, just skip to the end)

When I first became aware of these, I read the description on the Amazon site... then I looked them up on the Carefree website to find out all that I could about them... as it had been my intention to install them myself. Finally, I called Carefree directly and spoke with someone about them. I came away from all of that with the impression that installing them would be time-consuming, but fairly simple... consisting of 3 steps:

1) Installing the small 'black box' next to the motor head, and connecting the power wires in series with the current wiring setup (plug & play)...

2) Removing the single-switch EXTEND/RETRACT button from the wall/panel...

3) Installing the new, wider double-switch ON/OFF, EXTEND/RETRACT button (which would entail cutting the wall slightly larger to fit... and then connecting the old wires to the new switch)

So I order them and wait a week or so. When they're delivered, I open the box and empty the contents. Along with the new switch and 'black box'... there's also an 8-to-10 foot decent size thick cable included, and I immediately realize this isn't going to be the easy project I'd anticipated.

Reading the included instructions confirmed my analysis. Not only did this cable had to be snaked up & down the length of the arms from the black box at the motor head back to the rig... but it had to connect to the new switch from inside.

My next realization was that this was going to be too large of a project for myself alone... so I scheduled an appointment with the service guys at Camping World to have it done, along with some other things I wanted them to do. No problem they said... bring it down on Monday, and I did. I gave them the 2 boxes, discussed what I wanted, etc... and told them to call me if there were any problems.

Fast forward a few days, and the phone rings. The guy says... 'You were right not to try to install those awning shakers yourself. They are a PITA!! In fact, you ain't gonna believe this, but it took our guys 5 hours to install the one on the main awning... and I'm just calling to ask if you want us to continue to the 2nd one?"

FIVE HOURS of labor, I asked ??!!??

He then said... "you didn't hear me. I said it took our GUYS... plural... 2 guys... five hours, which equals 10 hours of labor... and that's a conservative number. They had to remove the spool from the arms, remove part of the arm from the rig, then line everything back up, etc. All time consuming stuff that required more than 4 hands at times."

He continued by saying... "now since we had no idea it was going to be that much trouble, we're not going to charge you for 10 hours of labor. If we had, I'd have called to ask before we did it to make sure you were ok with it. But we didn't find out until we were already into it, and by that time we had to see it through. And while I anticipate that installing the other one on the smaller rear awning will be a little easier, I'm going to give you an estimate of 4 hours labor before we begin... and I wanna know if you want us to continue."

I gave them to go-ahead, and everything works as advertised. In the end, they charged me 6 hours of shop labor for the both of them... which, though more than I had ever anticipated this costing me, I thought was decent & fair of them.

So long story short... they work, and they work great. But while the kit is fairly cheap, installing it won't be.
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Old 11-28-2013, 12:51 PM   #5
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can you take some pics of the black box and the new switch????
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nana & Poppy View Post
can you take some pics of the black box and the new switch????
If you click on the Amazon link I posted, you can see what's in the box. The picture is kinda small, but you get an idea.

I'm just getting up & around this morning... but will go out and snap a couple of pictures later, and then post them up here.
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:56 PM   #7
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Ok, here's the new switch that was installed in the garage (same place as old switch):




And here's the new switch for the main awning. Instead of it being a small rocker on the panel as before, they had to move it to the cavity under neath the panel by the TV coax outlets:




As for the little 'black boxes'... I couldn't get a picture of those, but they are installed somewhere underneath the housings by the motor head:

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Old 11-28-2013, 04:25 PM   #8
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Thanks Tom, you know the saying - a picture is worth a thousand words!
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Old 11-28-2013, 07:26 PM   #9
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Nice feature...still not fully sold on the electric awning never mind this great option. I like to keep things simple..to me the less electronic gizmos the better. Heard a horror story when the electric awning motor crapped out . They had a difficult time removing the motor and figuring out to manually close the awning and when it didn't it close 100%.
When we had our our manual awning it was quite simple to open and close and when we left the trailer for a period of time...we would just close it.

Just my 2 cents worth.

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Old 11-28-2013, 08:11 PM   #10
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Coops - that is exactly how Leo feels.....manual vs. electric.....me I like the electric since I can pull it in when the wind starts to blow and he is snoring so loud he can't hear it!
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