The new standard carries the designation BS ENISO 8936 - Awnings for leisure accommodation vehicles. It is designed to be simpler than previous editions, combining test and product requirements into one document. The aim is to provide manufacturers and consumers with a single reference point for the safety and performance of awnings.
The standard has been based on international discussions in which the UK has taken an active part and is identical to the international version. It specifies requirements, test methods and material performance characteristics for vehicle awnings.
An awning is defined as a closable tent intended to be fixed to a stationary vehicle or to stand free of the vehicle.
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Before you can begin to choose an awning you need to decide how and when you will use it.
If touring will be the main use the awning needs to be easy to put up and take down, without being too heavy. However if you want to leave it up on a seasonal pitch, or perhaps use it in winter, then something more substantial would be better suited.
Bear in mind though that if you need to carry the awning inside the caravan, it will eat into your personal payload. One way around this could be to put it in the car or in a roof box on your tow car.
The next consideration is how much space you will need. If you're going to be dining in the awning you'll need room for the table and chairs. These can take up quite a lot of space, particularly if there are four or more people. Another point here is that high-backed chairs seem to need a lot of room.
In these situations an extra wide awning can pay dividends. A typical depth for a full awning is 2.5m but choosing one with a depth of 3m makes it much easier to walk past seated people. Do bear in mind with a standard caravan this will likely require a larger pitch.
On the other hand, if you just want somewhere to keep your wet clothes and muddy boots, a small awning will suffice. It will also keep the weather away from your door and give you an extra degree of privacy when the door is open.
It's also worth considering how many people will be available to put up the awning. A large awning with poles really needs at least two people, particularly in windy conditions. An inflatable awning might be the solution here.