August 17th, 2020

Everything You Need to Know About Retractable Awning Motors

Come 2024, experts estimate that the value of the awnings market in North America will reach $3.64 billion. The United States accounts for the most significant portion of the market, at 80%. In terms of users, homeowners are the biggest audience of these outdoor coverings.

One of the primary reasons for the use of awnings is their heat-protective properties. Window awnings, for instance, can block up to 77% of solar heat gains.

What’s more, today’s retractable awning motors deliver the convenience that manual awnings can’t. They make the use of extended outdoor coverings simpler, easier, and almost labor-free. They can even help make your home smarter through automation! 

Ready to learn all about motorized retractable awnings, how they work, and why you should get them? Then let’s get this guide started!


Retractable awnings are awnings with movable arms that extend or retract the fabric. The arms themselves are metal, the number and length of which depend on the size of the covering itself. Sturdier awnings, however, usually come with at least two arms.

Retractable awnings often last longer than stationary kind. Stationary coverings, after all, are not movable, so the sun constantly beats down on them. Constantly-extended fabrics are also at the mercy of super-strong winds.

Retractable awnings can either be manual or motorized. Manually-retractable awnings are those that you use a crank with to “open” or “close” the fabric. While they’re more affordable, cranking them with your own hands can be energy-intensive.

Motorized retractable awnings come equipped with their own motors. These machines do all the hard work of extending or retracting the awning. You either just have to flip a switch or press a button on a remote control to operate the awning.


You have two choices when it comes to retractable awning motors: wired or wireless. Somfy, a $260-million-worth company, is one of the leading makers of both types of motors. It’s one of the most popular brands of sun control systems in the US, including California.

Both types of Somfy motors come in slim tube forms, making them compact to fit inside the barrel. The barrel acts as the rolling mechanism, which the fabric rolls onto. With this basic set-up, all that will be visible to you is the pretty canopy itself.


A hardwired awning motor is a wired system often installed in and on walls. They have low-voltage requirements (120 V AC), enough to power the motor. The motor connects to a toggle switch, which you then flip to extend or retract the awning.

When flipped to open, the switch will trigger the motor to wind the barrel. The barrel then extends the awning fabric, stretching it out over the metal arms. The arms don’t push the cover; they only follow the cover and then provide it ample support.

The Somfy LT motor is versatile and compatible with many styles of lateral awning arms. You can also use them to operate drop shade systems and patio awnings. If you’re planning to install roller shades on your windows, you can also motorize them with Somfy LT.


The “RTS” in the Somfy RTS motor stands for “Radio Technology Somfy.” It’s among the most popular Somfy products used by the company’s 270 million users all over the globe.

The RTS, as a radio technology, runs on a narrow bandwidth and frequency. The radio receiver itself is a built-in component of the awning motor. It then communicates with the remote control that comes with your awning system.

Because the receiver is inside the motor, there’s no need for hardwiring a toggle switch. If you want to extend or retract your awning or roller shades, you do so with just the remote control. It’s super convenient, plus, it allows for quick upgrades like adding nifty sensors.

In addition, the bandwidth of the awning remote won’t interfere with other frequencies. You don’t have to worry about it causing problems with other systems like your garage door opener.


Convenience and ease of use are the primary benefits of remote-controlled motorized awnings. Simply press a button, and the awning fabric will extend. Press the retract button, and the cover will roll back into the barrel.

It’s that simple and easy to use. However, there are many other benefits that a remote-controlled awning can bring. Let’s take a look at some of them below.


The RTS system makes it easy to boost your awning’s functions by being upgradeable. Meaning you can easily add other techy features like sun and wind sensors.

For instance, you can integrate the Soliris RTS Receiver into your motorized awning. This gadget features a combination of sun and wind sensors. It acts as a constant sun intensity and wind speed monitor.

The receiver automatically reacts to certain changes in the sun’s heat or wind speed. For example, if the sun becomes exceedingly strong, it will communicate with the motor. The motor will then respond by extending the fabric.

The wind sensor runs on the same premise, constantly monitoring changes to the wind. If the wind picks up and becomes super strong, the sensor will “tell” the motor to retract. Your motorized awning then automatically rolls the fabric to avoid damage.

All these take place without you even doing anything!


In the US, about 82% of all windows installed in the Northern climate zone have covers. This goes up to 88% in the Southern zone. In either area, the Department of Energy recommends the use of window treatments.

With that said, if you plan to install or upgrade your window covers, go for motorized systems. This way, you can link them all up and control them with a single panel. Control systems like the DecoFlex RTS can operate awnings, blinds, shades, and shutters.

This can then help you save time and money on having to maintain just a single control panel. Plus, it saves you the trouble of having to look for multiple missing or misplaced remotes.


With the use of timers, you can automate your awnings to open or retract at pre-set times of the day. For instance, the Somfy Chronis Timer can automatically extend awnings at 7:30 in the morning. Come at 8 in the evening; the timer retracts the awning without any further action from you.

The convenience itself that this gives you is a good enough reason to invest in one of these timers. However, it can also help you save on energy costs by helping keep the indoor climate optimal at all times.

How so?

First, consider how there’s an average of 22 windows per house, as estimated by the EPA. As such, it’s not unlikely to miss closing the shades on some of them before you head to work or school. If you use patio awnings, you may also forget to extend them on your way out.

Without covers on them, your windows will allow a lot of the sun’s heat to enter your home. This, in turn, can make your air conditioner run harder to keep things cool inside the house during summer. In the winter, your furnace may have to deal with a heavier workload to make your abode feel warm enough.

All this “extra” work, your HVAC, does translates to higher energy use. The more energy your heating or cooling system uses, the more expensive your energy bills. Even if you don’t forget to cover your windows all the time, the times you do will still rack up.

So, make it easier for yourself and your wallet. Consider automating your sunshade systems to enjoy worry-free sun, heat, and UV control.


Both manual and remote-controlled awning motors are capable of operating larger-sized fabrics. However, wired motors may not give you as much flexibility and portability. This can be an issue if your installation location doesn’t meet wiring requirements.

RTS motors give you a higher level of customizability in this case. They’re also super flexible that you can get them for awning fabrics that must be of a certain shape. You can also fit most of the 150 different styles of Sunbrella Fabrics with RTS motors.


There you have it, your guide on retractable awning motors and their many benefits. If you’re looking to automate things at home, consider remote-controlled awnings. With these, you can take your home one step closer to being smarter.

Still unsure whether to go with manual or remote-controlled awning motors? If so, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at Accent Awning Company! We’ll be more than happy to guide you and help you explore all your best awning options.

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