I decided that it was time to convert our manual Dometic awning to a power awning. After having an electric awning on our last travel trailer, I found the manual awning to be a major pain and longed for the joy of simply pushing a switch to open or close the awning! Since our awning fabric is almost like new, I decided to upgrade the awning by having the Solera battery powered awning arms installed. I had the work done by RCD sales in Sunbury, OH and they were very professional in all aspects of the job. I had contacted quite a few RV dealers and the service manager at RCD was the only one to respond to my emails and phone calls.
I picked up the MH yesterday and felt I would give an initial impression and review.
When I was researching this product, I couldn't find many reviews, so I hope this review will be helpful to folks that may be thinking about converting their manual awnings.
After getting home with the rig, I operated the awning a couple of times and it works well. Once opened, the arms are within reach so you can pull down one or both sides to change or adjust the angle of the awning. The joint in the arm mechanism that controls the amount of tension needed to retain the adjustment is adjustable and I may be making a slight adjustment to one arm. The replacement arms installed beautifully, and the only tell-tale signs of the manual arms are the lower metal brackets for attaching the manual arms. I've read where other owners have removed these brackets and replaced the with reflectors which is something I may do.
One advantage of these replacement arms is that no wiring was required (tapping into the coach's wiring system, adding switch, etc.) which reduced the amount of labor time. The trade-off is that the power switch is located at the bottom of the right awning arm which means you may get wet if you have to retract the awning when it has started to rain, but that wasn't a deal breaker for me. And, I've thought about the possibility of relocating the switch inside the motorhome as it doesn't seem that it would be that difficult.
Lippert claims that on one charge of the 18 volt battery, you can operate the awning 20-25 times. The charging cable has a fairly long cord and will easily reach a nearby 120 volt outlet in a basement compartment. In an emergency, the awning can be retracted with a socket and a drill, and a ladder (at least for my rig).
You have to be aware of the fact that due to the nature of the switch and operating system, the awning can retract with the awning tube below the fabric rather than on top. Once you know that, you can easily correct it as you begin retracting the awning.
Based on just my first impressions, the weight of the Lippert arms combined with the weight of the awning fabric (17' awning) will make this awning fairly stable in moderate breezes/wind. The awning is definitely more stable than the electric awning on my travel trailer. Lippert states in the manual that the awning should not be tied down as damage could occur to the arms. I'll see how it does when we make our winter trek (hopefully) or when the camping season resumes next spring and I'll update this review.
Based on my research, I saved at least $1,000 compared to having the awning replaced. The kit is designed to be a DIY project and if one can do the installation, the Lippert kit is definitely one way to save a lot of money, especially if you don't need to replace your awning fabric.
If you have a question, simply reply or send me a PM. Obviously, I need to use this awning in the coming year before I can say too much about durability, operating cycles between chargings, stability in wind, etc.
Thanks for reading this review!