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Taking it easy: Motors and Controls

Retractable awnings are a graceful form of environmental control. Natural, transitory shade and passive cooling create more comfortable spaces, both inside and out.

  • The ability to retract gives retractable awnings two strategic advantages:

  • Increased lifetime because of decreased exposure to UV damage and strong weather

  • Superior energy efficiency because heat gain is possible in winter, but heat is passively controlled in summer

However, retractable awnings have to be used properly for them to be truly effective – and this means they have to be extended and retracted at the right time. Motorization is the basis of effective retractable awning usage. In fact, according to the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association (PAMA) of which Retractableawnings.com is a long standing member, motorizing retractable awnings increases awning usage by 400%.

Motors also give retractable awnings an incredible amount of flexibility and utility. With motors, retractable awnings can use timer or app to open on schedule, sensors to open or close according to weather conditions, and a variety of controls to open and close them at a touch. Awning motors are a simple, elegant introduction to performance.

RetractableAwnings.com offers motors from both preeminent European motorization companies:

  • Somfy

  • Simu (owned by Somfy since 1990)

All RetractableAwnings.com motors offer the best performance:

  • Fitted in the roller tube, so they're out of sight

  • Self-lubricating

  • CE and Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved

  • Torque-sensing, so the motor continues rotating to keep the fabric rolled tight and taut (torque sensing motor only)

The ideal motor is fitted to each retractable awning sold, based on the torque and size of the motor and the height, width, fabric weight, and frame style of the awning.


Most retractable awning motors are wireless. The motor, sensors, and timers communicate with each other and a central receiver over radio frequency. Both of RetractableAwnings.com's wireless motor lines – from Simu and Somfy – can send RF signals over 200 meters of open ground and through 20 meters between reinforced concrete walls. This means that wireless motors and sensors can be placed almost anywhere in a home or commercial building, and the awning will operate flawlessly.

Using wireless motors and control systems allow awnings to be installed and relocated with ease. It's even easy to add sensors and timers into the system, without any extra wiring or electrical work.

All RetractableAwnings.com motors use a rolling code with 16 million possible combinations, offering maximum security.

Somfy RTS

Somfy has engineered its own style of radio communication, Radio Technology Somfy (RTS). This system is the most popular retractable awning motor in the world, with over 4 million systems installed. Somfy RTS motors have a narrow bandwidth, so they won't interfere with other RF systems, like garages or rolling shutters.

Somfy RTS motors and controls come with a 5-year warranty.

Simu Hz.02

EU sets standards that wireless equipment has to meet. Simu Hz motors exceed these directives which makes them durable and tolerant in extreme conditions:

  • Lightning

  • Power lines and electrical interference

  • Air ionization

  • Power failures and discharges

Simu motors and controls come with a 5-year warranty.


Wired motors are a more traditional method of motorizing awnings and the original style. Wired motors have more limited installation options and have to be planned in advance. Retractableawnings.com no longer offers wired motors as they are outdated in terms of technology.

Somfy LT

The Somfy LT has low-voltage wiring. It's a versatile motor that can be used in a number of different styles of lateral arm awnings, drop screens, and patio covers.


If there is a power outage for some reason, then a retractable awning can be stuck open when it should be closed. RetractableAwnings.com has a range of motors which have an integrated manual override crank that can be used to open or close the awning manually:

  • Somfy CMO

  • Simu DMI5 Hz.01 and DMI6 Hz.01

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