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motorized wall mounted full cassette retractable awning wind sensor

How much wind can an awning withstand? Can retractable awnings be wind resistant awnings? Let’s take a look!

In this article you’ll discover:

-how much wind speed is dangerous for awnings;

-what wind speed a retractable awning can withstand;

-the pros and cons of a wind resistant awning.

You’ll also find out about wind sensors that will help protect your awning investment and help prevent damage to your house or business.

Awnings are designed to provide shade and possibly keep you dry during a light rain. Many awnings are manufactured and tested to withstand a steady wind of 20 mph, not gusts; or a wind Class 2 (Beaufort 5) rating*. Unrated awnings failed to withstand a 12 mph steady breeze, and awnings rated wind Class 1 withstood a sustained breeze of 12mph. How much wind an awning can take depends on how it is built, what it’s made of, how large it is, and the wind force and direction.

A retractable fabric awning that is self-supporting responds to winds differently than a fixed or permanent fabric awning that is supported (also known as a canopy). A self-supported awning extends from a structure using spring loaded aluminum or steel arms. The springs in the arms help keep it extended and elevated. The pressure from a 23 mph wind would be like having a 300-pound person sitting on your awning. Nothing might happen, but it could damage your awning support arms.Retractable awnings that are rated for wind Class 2, if they are properly secured to a structure, should be fine in a steady wind speed of 19 to 24 mph. If the front of the awning starts to bounce a lot, a dangerous for retractable awnings wind speed has been reached, and you should roll it up before the arms are damaged and install a wind or motion sensor as soon as possible so that the rollup or retraction occurs automatically. A good rule of thumb: If you’re reading a magazine and the wind is flipping the pages for you, retract your awning.

beaufort wind load scale chart

motorized soffit mounted full cassette retractable awning wind sensor

Wind Resistant Awnings

There are 4 wind rated classes of awnings. Unrated or Class 0 either wasn’t tested or failed to withstand a sustained wind of 12 mph. Class 1 is rated to 12 mph (Beaufort 3), Class 2 (Beaufort 5) to 24 mph, and Class 3 (Beaufort 6) to 31 mph of sustained winds. When fully retracted (closed), some retractable awnings will survive 100 mph winds.

Best awnings for windy areas are retractable ones that have the fabric attached at the front bar and the structure wall, soffit/eave or roof. This permits the wind to escape out the sides and releases wind pressure on the arms. Motorized retractable awnings often use a wind sensor or motion sensor that automatically retracts the awning to prevent damage to the arms if the wind speed gets too high.

There are retractable products like retractable roof pergolas that have been rated higher and will withstand wind speeds of 55-63 mph (Beaufort 10) when open and 150+ mph when closed. Retractable awnings and retractable roof pergolas for windy areas like part of Miami-Dade County have to meet Florida Building Codes, and some really will withstand winds of 55-63 mph when partially or fully extended. Although the awning may withstand a greater wind force, flying debris can still cause damage. Additionally, the higher the awning wind rating, the greater the cost.

Fabric covered fixed frame a/k/a permanent awnings must meet Miami-Dade County building code requirements and withstand 75 mph winds. However, the fabric must be removed if winds are higher than Beaufort 11. That means removing the fabric when it’s windy (prior to hurricane force winds), and then re-attaching it after the storm has passed. This of course is one great reason to purchase a retractable awning rather than a fixed/permanent awning.

rotating retractable louver roof

Wind Sensors

A simple way to protect motorized fabric awnings is to install a wind or motion sensor. The wind sensor monitors the wind speed while the motion sensor monitors the motion of the front bar and both will retract the awning if either senses dangerous winds. Add sun and rain sensors, and your awning becomes a self-operating shade provider even when you’re not home, helping you save money by protecting the outdoor and indoor furniture fabric, rugs and carpet from fading and interior spaces from heating up. Also ensuring your awning isn’t damaged by high winds.


Buying a wind resistant awning will give you an awning that withstands moderate winds. However, the better choice may be to purchase one that is good for a windy day and pay extra for a wind or motion sensor just in case either is needed. If it’s too windy to relax under your awning, it probably should be closed. Before you purchase, check out the reviews and specifications on our website and make sure it has a minimum of a moderate wind rating.