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Comparing the Features of Fixed and Retractable Awnings

One word sums up the main distinction between fixed and retractable awnings: mobility. As their names suggest, retractable awnings can be opened, closed, or halted at any point in between, in contrast to fixed awnings, which are fixed in place.

Retractable awnings provide a lot of flexibility because of this capacity to move an awning, and this flexibility has a big impact on performance.

An Improved Energy Efficiency

Both fixed and retractable awnings give great savings on air conditioning expenditures. Awnings obscure sunlight, resulting in a 77% overall reduction in heat gain and a temperature reduction of 8 to 20 degrees (F). This can lead to annual energy savings of several hundred dollars, depending on the window orientation and the length of the summer.

Winter is the flip side of energy savings, though, and this is when retractable awnings clearly excel. While preventing indoor heat gain is beneficial in the summer, you want the opposite in the winter. Heating expenditures were decreased by allowing sunlight and ambience to heat in. That is not possible with fixed awnings, but retractable awnings can be pulled back during the winter to let in the most light and heat possible. In colder regions, this may be important.

A Longer Lifespan with the Fabrics

One of the most vulnerable aspects of an awning is its fabric. The fabric is the most exposed and sensitive aspect of the awning, whether it is solution-dyed acrylic, PVC, mesh, or even cotton canvas. Awning frames can be painted or powder-coated for further protection against corrosion and UV damage and are relatively resistant to daily deterioration. Fabrics, however, are prone to tearing in strong winds, stretching as a result of standing water, fraying from rubbing against awning ribs, and fading and cracking from constant sun exposure and UV rays.

Some of this risk can be reduced by choosing high-quality fabrics, including solution-dyed acrylics and fade-resistant PVC-based materials. But rolling up the fabric is the easiest and most efficient way to protect it. When not in use, retractable awnings fold up the cloth to protect it from UV rays, wind, rain, and other weather elements. The fabric roller is covered by an optional cowl, eliminating debris and water buildup that can worsen the cloth’s condition. This adds years to the fabric’s lifespan and boosts the awning’s attractiveness.

An Improved Light Management

Light management is certainly a key consideration when using awnings, but it doesn’t mean that all light must be completely blocked at all times. There are numerous things that might change the quality of the light, which is constantly changing with the weather:

  • An angle of the sun
  • Available interior lighting
  • Cloud cover
  • Fog
  • Haze

Retractable awnings can be configured to offer just the right amount of light and shade, enhancing both comfort and energy economy. Using ambient lighting instead of electric lighting can minimise energy usage for large buildings. It can also greatly impact staff or visitors’ moods and health in bigger venues because natural light is associated with lower stress and happier moods.

On the other hand, fixed awnings only block light at a certain angle, which may result in the unnecessary light reduction or a lack of ability to block light and glare when the sun’s position varies throughout the year.

A Longer Lifespan with the Frame

Although the awning frames are generally more durable than the fabric, they are nevertheless brittle. Many awning forms, such as lateral arms, canopy, and drop screens, do not have poles or supports; thus, when they are fully extended, they are flush with the building and unnoticeable.

Since many of the frames are rated for winds of 20 mph or more, even a modest breeze won’t prevent you from spending a relaxing afternoon on the patio. A fixed awning is left out in the elements if the winds kick up or the weather gets worse, leaving the fabric and structure exposed to wind damage or the weight of precipitation.

However, retractable awnings can be covered and sheltered for a short while or for several days. If you are not present to close the awning yourself, sensors such as anemometers and precipitation detectors can enable it to retract and be protected.


Indeed, fixed and retractable awnings offer different advantages and disadvantages depending on the property owner’s needs. Fixed awnings provide a more permanent option, while retractable awnings are a great choice for areas where occasional shade is needed. Fixed awnings are less expensive and require less maintenance while offering protection from the elements.

Retractable awnings offer more flexibility, as they can be adjusted for changing weather conditions and are also more aesthetically pleasing. Both types of awnings can provide great protection from the elements, with retractable awnings being the ideal choice for areas where shade is needed only occasionally. Ultimately, the choice between fixed and retractable awnings will depend on the property owner’s choice.
If you are looking for one of the best awning companies on the Sunshine Coast, look no further than our amazing selections here at Excelfit. We are a Sunshine Coast-based design and construction firm, designing and constructing fully engineered Awnings, Carports, Pergolas, Glass and Screen Enclosures, Sheds and Garages. Call us today and let us discuss all your awning needs.

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