Before you buy a Sunsetter, please consider purchasing from a local company that can manufacture, install, and service a high-quality, reasonably-priced retractable awning.  Here are three reasons why buying from Sunsetter may be a bad idea.

1. Local, Local, Local… Local Design your awning, Local Installation of your awning, Local Service of your awning for years to come.  Sunsetter is not local.

  • Having a local expert that has surveyed thousands of homes to help measure your space, make suggestions, and order your awning is critical to making your retractable awning project a success.
  • Are you going to install a Sunsetter Awning yourself, hire a handyman, or go through a Sunsetter Dealer?  Wouldn’t it be far better to have an installation crew that has installed thousands of awnings in the Chicagoland Area perform your installation?
  • After the initial installation, who is going to perform routine maintenance and wash your awning?  What if something goes wrong? Does the warranty state that you need to remove the part and ship it back to its point of origin at your cost to get the product warranted? Do you or your contractor/ dealer have the awning expertise to service your awning?

2. Buzzwords make for great marketing not necessarily great products… Sunsetter attempts to take ordinary features and make them sound high quality.

  • Air-Craft Quality Aluminum- WOW! That sounds awesome! If it can be put on an aircraft, why won’t it be better on an awning? The truth is, what part of the awning is aircraft quality aluminum? What does aircraft quality aluminum even mean? What specification on an “aircraft” does it meet? Maybe it meets the standard for the beverage cart or maybe it meets the standard for wing construction?
  • Baked on Enamel Finish- WOW! That sounds pretty cool too, but here is where I am confused. Why not state that the finish meets auto standards? There are well established standards for powder coated finishes. Also note that it states that the frame is ONLY available in a “cream” finish. I guess that’s the “marketing” way of saying you don’t get to choose your frame color. As an aside, “cream” is the least popular frame color in the Chicago market.
  • Double Cable System for Strength- WOW! If one cable is good, then two cables must be twice as good! This statement is completely mis-leading on several different levels. First of all, it says “for strength.” The cable has NOTHING to do with the strength of the awning. The cable only attaches the springs inside the arm to the arm. It does not even address the tension of the arm(which is important because it determines how tight your fabric will be). The size and number of springs inside the arms affect tension.  Second, the “strength” of the arm depends on how the components of the arm are manufactured. The longer pieces on all arms are extruded. Think play dough. You squeeze it through a mold. The connecting pieces are either “die cast” or “forged.” Think horse shoes-forged versus muffins- die cast. Sunsetter is completely silent on this topic. Lastly, what is completely skipped over is what material the cable is made of. In fact, it is made of galvanized cable that cost pennies per foot and it is covered in a soft plastic. By the way, expect that soft plastic to come off in a few years. Also expect it to NOT be covered under warranty. My guess is that “Double Cable System for Strength” is going to market test better.

3. Do you really want to buy an Awning in a box? … Sunsetter Awnings and other imitators have put together a simple proposition: we will make you a retractable awning and ship it directly to your home. For certain homeowners, this is the level of product and service they are looking for. We call this “A Retractable Awning in a Box.”

  • Sizes: Many companies that specialize in this approach only offer widths of one-foot increments and limited projections from the home. Some companies do not offer large projections, such as 13’4″ or 16’ from the home. If you want an awning over 20’ wide, good luck. Shipping companies charge outrageous rates for freight over 20’ long.
  • Colors: Some consumers are not aware that retractable awning frames are available in different colors or can even be powder coated. Additionally, I bet most consumers do not know that high quality, 100% solution dyed acrylic fabrics are available in over 600 colors and patterns. Why limit yourself to a few stock patterns and a white frame if that doesn’t work on your house?
  • Options: By its very nature, an in-the-box product is standard. Options are often limited and not well explained.
  • Shipping & Delivery:  If you purchase your awning from Sunsetter, the product typically is delivered to you in a box off a Semi Truck.  This may be an issue for your neighbors or association.

Finally, we are not stating that Sunsetter is either a high quality or low quality retractable awning for your deck or patio. The point of this blog is to make you- the consumer- go a little deeper to analyze before purchasing a product that should last on your home for 10-20 years.  We believe that you deserve a better product, better installation, and better service after the initial installation.

Blog was written by Rodney Allott, President of Thatcher Retractable Awnings, Pergolas, and Patio and Past Board Member & Vice President of the Mid-West Fabric Products Association. Thatcher Retractables is located at 650 Willowbrook Center Parkway Suite 200 Willowbrook, IL 60527  (western suburbs surrounding the City of Chicago.) Come see our factory showroom or visit us on the web at or call us (630) 5-AWNING for more information.