A campervan awning is a fantastic accessory for any vandweller, providing shade and protection from the elements; because sunburns aren’t a souvenir you want to bring home. Awnings increase space on the outside, essentially giving you another living space. Installing a campervan awning can be a relatively simple and straightforward process, requiring only basic tools and a little bit of know-how.
In our 2023 Roaming Home study, we found that 55% of van conversions had an awning of some kind installed.
I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for years; I'm the author of Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan,writer of The Van Conversion Newsletter, instructor of The Van Conversion Course over at Udemy. And full-time vanlifer for 4 years!
Now let's jump in and have a look at campervan awnings and how to install one!
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Broadly speaking there are two types of campervan awnings:
Drive Away campervan awnings
Permanent campervan awnings
Drive away campervan awning
Drive Away campervan awnings are temporary awnings. They are assembled when needed, and disassembled afterwards. They are either erected with an air pump or with poles.
Coleman and Vango (UK) are two well-known manufacturers of drive away campervan awnings.
The only downsides of drive away campervan awnings is the faff of putting it up, and finding somewhere to store it when you’re not using it.
Outdoor revolution (Handi) awning
Outdoor Revolution manufacture a particularly 'cheap and cheerful' drive away campervan awning. It is very well reviewed and one of the cheaper tent awnings on the market. Notably, it is a small van awning - it works very well with vans like the VW Transporter.
3000mm hydrostatic head
120D polyester fabric
Low version of the Handi fits vehicles that attach between 180cm and 210cm
If you want to step it up a notch, you could check out some of the drive away campervan awnings from OLPRO. They are more sizeable but come with a bigger price tag. The Loopo Breeze comes with inflatable canopy poles making it extremely easy to erect.
5000mm hydrostatic head
150D polyester fabric
Suitable for vans with a height of between 190cm-250cm
Wild Earth awning
If you already have a campervan awning rail installed, you might be interested in the awnings from Wild Earth. They are simple, cheap, and 'do what they say on the tin'. When you want to use the awning, you simply slide it into the campervan awning rail.
Permanent campervan awning
Your other option is to mount a permanent campervan awning.
The installation for both the Fiamma campervan awning and Dometic is pretty straightforward. Though you must make sure that you buy the correct mounting kit for your specific van - if you don’t use the right mounting kit, you may end up with a wonky awning.
How to install a permanent campervan awning
Side-mounted Fiamma campervan awning (Fiamma F45s)
Step #1: Determine the mounting location
The first step is to determine where you want to mount the awning on your van. Choose a location that is flat, level, and has enough clearance for the awning to extend fully. Make sure it does not interfere with the opening of the sliding door!
Step #2: Prepare the mounting brackets
The Fiamma F45s awning comes with mounting brackets that will attach to your specific van. Install these brackets to the van using the appropriate hardware, such as bolts and screws. I suggest adding some sikaflex (or mastic tape) as sealant.
Step #3: Attach the awning to the mounting brackets
With the mounting brackets in place, attach the awning to the brackets using the provided hardware. Make sure that the awning is level and secure.
Keeping out the rain
Side-mounted campervan awnings like the f45S leave a gap between the awning and the van. This might lead to rain dripping down your back! You can install a Fiamma Rain Guard kit to fix this - it is very easy to install.
Note: The Fiamma F65s is top mounted and doesn’t have this problem.
Top-mounted awning (Dometic PerfectRoof)
Step #1: Install the mounting brackets
First remove the rubber plugs running down the length of the roof.
Heat up the plugs with a heat gun, then pry them out with a flat head screwdriver.
Next add a small piece of mastic/butyl tape over each hole to help create a watertight seal.
Then drill and bolt the mounting brackets that came with the awning into those plugholes.
To give the mounting bracket extra strength you. could run some beads of Sabatack 750XL glue which has excellent shear strength resistance.
Step #2: Attach the awning
You can simply slide the awning into place on the mounting bracket.
Note: You may need to purchase an adapter kit depending on the model of your van.
I hope you found this guide to campervan awnings useful! You are well on your way to a beautiful self-build campervan!
Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion (I'll send you a free wiring diagram when you join).
If you're looking for some guidance with your van conversion, you might be interested in Roaming Home; The Comprehensive Guide for Converting Your Van Into a Campervan. In the 380-page book (or ebook), you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,