As many do, we have a canopy attached to the side of our 5th wheel RV. These canopies vary in size from about 10′-25′ in length depending on the model of RV. Since our RV measures in at 32′ from tip to tail, the original owners opted for the whopping 25′ x 8′ canopy. This canopy has been great. It provides a large outdoor area under-which we can sit, play, or protect items from sun, dew, or rain. However, having a canopy this large has some inherent problems as well, as we found out. Back in August 2016 we made a day trip from RI to New York City and neglected to change the pitch of our canopy prior to our departure to ensure proper rain drainage off of one end. This turned the canopy into a large rain-catching bowl effectively. A few hundred pounds of water later, and the roller tube of the canopy snapped in half. We learned from our mistake, purchased a replacement canopy, and moved on.
Fast forward to November 2017. We left for the day again, this time noting that the canopy was a bit lower on one end than the other to allow rain to drain off. It had rained a few times in this canopy position and we did not experience any problems. However, it did not simply rain that day…it monsooned! When we returned later that evening we were greeted with ankle-deep water in our campsite and, you guessed it, a bent canopy roller. Not again! Obviously something needed to change because we are not prepared to replace our canopy on an annual basis.
There are two types of canopy hardware available. The hardware we had up to this point was the standard metal hardware that stays where you put it. This is the only hardware available for the 25′ canopy due to the weight of 200 sq. ft. of canopy material. On shorter canopies one can elect for a different type of hardware that incorporates pneumatic shocks and a truss-like design which allows the canopy to flex automatically if too much water builds up on it, dumping the water from the top of the canopy. This is done automatically, and the canopy returns to its original position without damage. This! This is apparently what we need. But, as stated above, it is not an option on the larger canopies due to weight restrictions. Therefore, we decided to split our canopy. Instead of a single 25′ canopy, we have elected to have a 13′ canopy and a 12′ canopy side by side. This would allow us to have the new-style hardware and help protect us from further canopy damage.
I found a deal online at one of the RV suppliers and ordered two canopies. I had already had one canopy delivered to Rhode Island, so I expected a simple delivery of the canopies. How wrong I was. The freight company arrived to deliver the new canopies, except they only had the hardware kits…they had apparently LOST the actual canopies. I rejected the delivery and called the shipper, PPL Motorhomes. A second shipment was generated, and when the same shipping company arrived with all four pieces on the invoice I was dismayed to find both canopies were damaged. I again called the shipper and they generated a third shipment to correct the issue. The catch at this point was that I knew I would soon be leaving for Navy training duty, and I would shortly be running out of time to get the canopies installed. Luckily the third time was the charm and I received and installed two functional & undamaged canopies. I can’t say enough about PPL Motorhomes and the lengths they went to to ensure I got what I originally ordered.
Along with the new hardware kits we opted for power canopies instead of manual. This has been amazing. The convenience and simplicity are well worth the added cost. The kids have even extended and retracted the canopies unassisted.