Good or bad idea for awning? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-11-2015, 11:22 PM   #1
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Good or bad idea for awning?

I'm looking at the option of adding a Rhino Rack 8ft Sunseeker awning to our camper, mounting it to the existing rail from our solar setup. The awning weighs 25 lbs. my only concern is whether the weight would be too much on the roof. Not sure if the weight would distribute evenly. Looks like the awning uses a similar mounting setup so this would be great if the weight didn't become an issue. Maybe I add cross rails to the current rails to further support the system. I'm currently not noticing any sag from the solar setup on the roof. Any advice or ideas would be great! Here's a link to the awning and a camper photo and drawing of the current rail setup. Sunseeker 2.5m Awning - #32105 | Rhino-Rack

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Old 08-11-2015, 11:35 PM   #2
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Can't really tell what that mounting rail is.......aluminum??
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:39 PM   #3
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Yep, aluminum rails. Click image for larger version

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Old 08-11-2015, 11:45 PM   #4
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Looks like a Unistrut design rail. What's the anchor under the glass - a wood strip? Or is bolts with fender washers, and what spacing on the fasteners?
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:52 PM   #5
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I only have 3 bolts going through each rail so 4 feet or so between each? Fender washers are used under the fiberglass. I figure I'd have to increase the size of those if I added anything to these rails. They're not much bigger than the hex heads on the bolts. 3/8" bolts is what I think we used.


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Old 08-12-2015, 12:09 AM   #6
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If you could work in an internal wood reinforcing rail for the awning under the existing aluminum rail so that the glass would be sandwiched to spread the stress, you could probably tag off the existing aluminum rail for the awning anchor, or add a 2nd rail alongside bolted to the existing rail if there are issues with having enough wrench room; depends on the width of your internal rail as that would have to handle any torque from storm winds.

Although the weight of the awning itself is little when distributed over a 6 to 8 ft length, the design has to consider the stress with wind/storm issues trying to make a sail out of your awning - which can be substantial if your awning surface area is 8x8 ft - 64 square ft of sail can generate a lot of force with wind trying to lift it straight up.

Yup, I'm a retired mechanical engineer.............
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Old 08-12-2015, 09:09 AM   #7
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Thanks! I'd hope to be able to run off the existing rail so I'd go with something bigger under the fiberglass to distribute the stress as you said. I'd question if the solar panels and faring would also help counter the weight of the awning as well. It's a pretty rigid install.


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Old 08-12-2015, 11:19 AM   #8
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Had a sudden storm bend the steel (not aluminum) flat metal feet of my Pop Up awning. The stakes at each leg held but the 3/16 inch steel feet with the stakes through them bent, the steel legs did not but the steel cross members where all snapped.

Not attached to the camper and wind direction was not toward camper so no damage. You are going to be attaching additional wind load to both your roof and your track. Aluminum and fiberglass do not strike me as stronger than steel but the legs did provide leverage on that foot. Already taking some wind load from the solar this will add to it.

I would expect any failure to be catastrophic rather than incremental. A bolt or bracket gives out leading to a cascade of load on fewer attachment points. If the wind was to get under those panels after a tarp pulled a bolt.....

I would think about how to set up my awning so it fails before the railing would fail. Provide a "weak link" someplace that protects the rail and roof.
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Old 08-12-2015, 12:06 PM   #9
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Andy, since you don't have a rock guard, why not install a hinged solar cell over the front window?
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Old 08-12-2015, 01:22 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Tilston View Post
Andy, since you don't have a rock guard, why not install a hinged solar cell over the front window?
Really ? - Is this a good use for a solar cell ? I hadn't considered this previously . . . Hmmmm ?
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Old 08-12-2015, 11:53 PM   #11
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Good call RogerDat. And as far as adding more solar panels, we're good to go as is. We camped for 7 nights in Crested Butte this summer with plenty of power off this system.


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