November 18th, 2019

What Are Retractable Window Awnings and How Do They Compare to Other Forms of Exterior Shade?

The summer and hot weather hit. You live in a warm-weather climate. AC, shade, and ice-cold lemonade are your best friends.

You love them all, though the AC can bump up your electricity in spades. In hot-humid climates like the U.S. Southeast,  AC makes up on average 27 percent of all energy costs in homes and 17 percent for dry-hot climates like the U.S. Southwest.

Enter retractable window awnings as a fantastic solution to help you save on AC and to give you that extra boost of shade when needed. Plus, they look amazing when you’re sitting in the garden sipping that lemonade at sunset when it’s finally cooled off a bit.

But what is an awning exactly, you ask? And how can it help keep your home cool in the hot summer months?

To help, we’ve put together some quick basics on window awnings. Keep reading to learn what awnings are, how retractable window awnings work to bring you that beloved shade, and how they compare to other home options for shade. 

Then, get started finding the right awnings for you so you can bring on the shade and your cool at-home oasis in style. 


Retractable window awnings are awnings that can open and close with a remote control. They’ve been around since the Roman Empire when they were used to cover stadium seats like at the Coliseum. Today, retractable window awnings are a favorite for both businesses and homes alike.

Retractable window awnings have a good range of motion. They go from being neatly tucked up above a window to a 165-degree angle out and over the window to provide shade, privacy, and decor.

Retractable awnings can stop at 45 degrees and 90 degrees as well so you can adjust them as the sun moves so you always have shade. In the morning, if you want full light, you can keep retractable awnings up and fully retracted. 

The controller has sun sensors and a timer. It can be set to automatically open and close awnings as needed, or it can be manually operated.

Retractable window awnings come in durable, easy-to-clean fabric in a wide variety of colors and design options.

Customers love the versatility of retractable window awnings for the cool shade, design, reduced AC use, and energy cost savings.


There are also other window and home shade options to consider. Let’s take a look at retractable window awnings compared to stationary awnings and drop shade systems to give you an idea of what you’re looking at for your home or business and to make sure you get exactly what you need. 


Stationary awnings are fixed awnings that don’t retract. Like retractable awnings, they provide cool shade, sun protection, some privacy depending on style, and charming decor. Unlike retractable window awnings, they’re set up at one angle and can’t be raised or lowered as the sun moves. They’re more simple and also more affordable.

Stationary awnings come in a variety of styles that you can choose from, some that aren’t offered in retractable awnings. You can get a little creative with window awning ideas here to bump up the curb appeal of your home and the nice view you have when sitting in your garden!

Some designs to consider for stationary awnings include an elegant New Orleans style, a classic Americana look, a European dome look, the playful Roman spear style, and more decorative fun options.

While style-wise stationary awnings offer more shapes, you can pick some great fabrics and have fun with hardware colors for retractable awnings too. Think striped awnings with their colorful charm or classic tweed!

Our stationary and retractable awnings both use the same high-quality Sunbrella fabric with 150 color options and more, and we’re here to work with you to pick the right fit for your home.


Stationary awnings, or canopies, can also be custom-made to provide shade for larger outdoor areas, like balconies, carports, yards, decks, patios, and barbecue islands. Custom retractable awnings can also be made to cover a few of these larger areas, like patios. These are a bit more pricey than stationary awning custom options but you can also go with pre-sized ready-made retractable patio awnings if you’re looking for a budget option.


Drop shades are shades that drop straight down vertically from a roof, porch, or other overhang or system attachment above a window. Often they come in a mesh-like fabric to allow light to enter while still keeping the inside of your home or other building cool. The mesh is actually an opaque acrylic or thermal screen. 

Like retractable window awnings, they protect what’s inside from the sun, provide cool shade by reducing temperatures by up to 20 degrees, help reduce AC use, and help keep down energy costs. Also, they look great! Architects love them because they can blend with the style of your home in a subtle sleek way. 

Since drop shades cover the entire window or porch area like a wall, they provide more sunblock than a typical awning. However, since retractable window awnings can go all the way down to a 165-degree angle, they still have the ability to keep most of the sun out. 

Also, you can opt for a vertical-drop valence on your retractable awning. The valence drops down from the front edge of the awning fabric and rolls down as needed to give you that extra block when the sun drops low, just like with the drop shade.


Now that you know what awnings are and how retractable window awnings can make your life so much cooler and affordable during those hot months, you’re ready to find the right awnings for your home.

To start, give us a call so that we can take a look at your home and let you know your options. Our goal is to help you put up top-quality awnings that will give you added shade to cool your home, save you on energy costs, and boost the look of your home. We’re here to answer any questions you may have.

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