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Old 06-07-2009, 07:40 PM   #1
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Converted manual awning to electric

I asked a couple weeks ago about this, but go no replies. So I took the plunge anyway. I converted my 20 foot Carefree awning to electric, using Carefree's Eclipse arms.

It was a handful for two people, but it came out really well. One of the biggest problems was figuring out how to find what Carefree called "substantial support" behind my fiberglass exterior wall to mount the arms. You can always look for a row of rivets, either vertically or horizonally, and be fairly certain they're fastened into the frame. Outside of that, it's guesswork. But I found a great solution. I took a regular home studfinder (from Lowes) and used it on the outside to pinpoint exaclty where the support members started and ended. Worked perfectly.

The two factory holes in the top of the Eclipse arms must be fastened to support members in the wall by 1/4 lag screws. Others holes can use what we always called umbrella rivets and what they call moly rivets (not moly bolt). The two predrilled holes in the electric arms were not aligned over my "substantial supports", so I had to drill a couple new holes there. It's relatively close to where the orginal holes were, so the strength should be fine. I must say, it was a day's work for me, but I really like the end result.

Since no one on the board seems to have done this yet, I wanted to let everyone know it's doable at home if you're mechanically inclined and have a bit of experience using a pop rivet gun, drills, and hole saws (for mounting the electronic controls on a cabinet face. Probably the hardest part on my coach was running the electric from the battery compartment at the bottom of the coach, through the wall and installing a plugin connector near the top. That took a lot of time. Luckily mine came out into an inside cabinet, which was perfect.

I think I will use my awning a lot more now, since deploying it is much easier.
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Old 06-07-2009, 10:35 PM   #2
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Can you still tilt the awning to handle severe rain storms? If so, sounds great. Too bad you couldn't sell a conversion kit. Nice work!

Jack
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:17 AM   #3
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I did the same thing but had a Carefree tech do the install - 4 hours. I bought the package at Quartzite and he came out to Erenburg to do the install. I also installed a standard sun screen and found out that it will roll up with the awning. It has traveled over 2,000 miles without a problem. It is a great place to store it and it comes down as the awning opens up.
Yes you can tip one side for rain run off. One of the best improvements to our coach. Now we use the awning all the time and I don't hear "honey, we should put down the awning" - meaning me. Now the wife can hit the button and down it goes.
Have fun with it.
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:56 AM   #4
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Thanks Jack & JCM. The Eclipse does have tilt capability as well as the ability to lower the angle to make it steep. I also have a sun screen, but didn't know you could roll it up with the awning. That's a nice feature.
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Old 06-08-2009, 05:44 PM   #5
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we also did the conversion and are very happy! one other thing thats really great about it is you can extend the awning, tilt one side for rain, retract it in that position and when it comes time to extend again it comes out in the same tilted position.(pretty neat)
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Old 06-10-2009, 11:22 AM   #6
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Darryl, this sounds like a great project.

Do you have photos?? How about material costs?
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Old 06-10-2009, 12:17 PM   #7
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Here is a little trick that I came up with to avoid trying to put the suncreen through the slot when it was above the roller. I didn't like standing on a step ladder to feed it through the slot on top of the motor housing. Now we can stand on the ground and do it. MAKE SURE that you file the edges smooth so that you don't rip the sun screen.
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Old 06-10-2009, 04:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLYTYER View Post
Darryl, this sounds like a great project.

Do you have photos?? How about material costs?

It was a nice project, which took some planning. I spent the previous week end figuring out where and how to best run the electric to the switches, located inside on a cabinet wall. Since each coach is different, you must figure out the best location for the switch. It can't be too far from where the electrical service cord comes through the wall (from the awning), or you'll need to add an extension to the factory length cord.

You also need to figure out the best way to get the electrical supply from a source to the cabinet. I had no power located anywhere up near the cabinet where the switch was being mounted. Because of windows, and other obstructions, I eventually had to run mine from the battery box (immediately underneath the motor end of the awning in a bay) through the floor (drilled a hole) and up the inside wall. I installed one of the pvc wire chase runs (from Lowes) to cover it. Because of where I ran it, it is not noticable at all unless you're looking for it. Came out very nice. I was not able to run mine through the wall, but others might. Brought it from the floor, into an attractive pvc wire chase and into the bottom of the cabinet (use small hole saw here) and fasterned to two terminals (bought at West Marine) mounted inside the cabinet. The switches are connected to the electrical terminals and then go out a one inch hole inside the cabinet to the outside (hole saw again) external connector that the awning plugs into. All this is hidden inside the cabinet, so it is not seen (on the inside).

At the moment I do not have any pics, but will take some this weekend. Because my front manual awning arm was so close to a window, I actually had to slide my awning towards the front of the coach 4 inches. The electric arms are wider than the manual ones, necessitating the move. It was not hard on my coach bacause my awning rail at the roof line is much longer than the awning, so I didn't have to add any extra rail.

Cost? Well I bought new Eclipse awning arms off Ebay for $600. This is about half price. There are alot of parts coming out of Indiana right now since there are so many factory closings. Wire, wire chase, terminals and misc probably cost an additional $50.

Carefree actually has two different models of electric arms available (Traveler and Eclipse). The one you needs depends on the distance you have above the entrance door to the roof line. The Traveller is less expensive than the Eclipse, but requires more room above the door than the Eclipse. I needed the Eclipse.
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Old 10-30-2009, 12:42 PM   #9
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Hi Daryl,
Good to read about your converting your awning. I am thinking about doing this also. My awnig is heavy weight vinyl fabric. Will I need to purchase new fabric?
Thanks.
Larry
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Old 10-30-2009, 01:59 PM   #10
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry in NC View Post
Hi Daryl,
Good to read about your converting your awning. I am thinking about doing this also. My awnig is heavy weight vinyl fabric. Will I need to purchase new fabric?
Thanks.
Larry
Larry, you will not have to change your fabric. The fabric is not a factor in this job. A lot of the new awnings I've seen have the heavy vinyl on them.

Be sure to get some help! This is a two person job unless you have a very nice awning support system in place.
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:32 PM   #11
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cool
i may have to ditch my A&E electric
i hate it
its to high up
no tilt adjustment
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Old 10-30-2009, 03:37 PM   #12
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cool
i may have to ditch my A&E electric
i hate it
its to high up
no tilt adjustment
I don't know that you can do anything about either of those two issues, as it appears your awning is over a slide out room. That's the penalty for having all that room!
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Old 10-30-2009, 04:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerboatr View Post
cool
i may have to ditch my A&E electric
i hate it
its to high up
no tilt adjustment
I agree with you on the A&E awning. I have the same awning, and the only thing its good for is to shade the slide out on really sunny/hot days. To make matters worse the motor has quit working (two years old). I wonder if there is any way to remove the motor and put a crank mechanism on it. I understand from other messages that the motors have chronic failure problems and replacements run in the $350 plus range.
A local parts man suggested a standard awning replacement but noted that you would have to put the awning out before extending the slide and also there would be a problem finding a place to mount the arms.
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Old 04-21-2013, 05:12 PM   #14
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I know this a really old thread but if Daryl reads this I would appreciate an answer. I am also wanting to convert my awning. My question is, do you take the rewind spring out of the awning drum or do you leave it active?
Thanks
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