First came the slide out, dramatically increasing inside living space of the modern RV. It did not take long for RV awning manufacturers such as Dometic's A&E and Carefree of Colorado to recognize and seize upon an opportunity and the slide out cover was born.
Attaching to the outside of the slide room and on an awning rail mounted on the RV just above the slide room while utilizing a awning roller tube always under tension the slide topper awning automatically rolls up as the slide room is retracted. The sales pitch for slide topper covers are many and I would like to cover these from my perspective, that of an RV technician.
Slide covers provide an obvious benefit of keeping all sorts of debris such as tree limbs, twigs, and leaves off the slide roof because most of us do not crawl up on our roofs to inspect our slides every time we are ready to move our RV. The upper slide seal is particularly vulnerable to foreign debris so its paramount the top of the slide is clean as it is retracted. It is difficult enough to keep outdoor elements out of your RV in the slide areas so these areas need to be protected as best as possible.
Another benefit is keeping direct sunlight off the top of the slide. Some RV manufacturers utilize a “tape seal" on the outside seam of the roof that will dry and crack with repeated exposure to direct sunlight. In addition, anytime you can provide an atmosphere of shade to anything you have just prolonged the life of the object, slides included.
Slide covers provide real benefits and certainly are worth the investment. I am amused however by some of the other sales pitches, which I think, should be taken with a grain of salt.
A sales pitch easily sold is the one where they profess slide toppers help keep water off the slide and helps prevent leaks around the slide room. Perhaps. . . if you have rain falling neatly at a perfect 90 degree angle to the ground, but I am still waiting to observe such a phenomenon. After most rains there will be water on the slide roof and after a rainstorm you can bet on it. In the case of snow, I would rather see snow on the awning rather than the room.
Here is a good one! Slide covers keep your slide room cool and comfortable. Maybe. . . but I doubt it. I could be wrong but I do not see the slide cover making an appreciable difference in inside temperatures.
In conclusion, slide covers are certainly worth the investment, which is why you see them on most RV's today. On lower end units manufacturers will tend to leave them off primarily to make the RV that much more affordable but sooner or later many consumers will have them installed. Naturally, with slide covers you have one more item to be maintained so I must address the issue of durability of the awning material. There are many different grades and types of material used but acrylic and vinyl are the most prevalent.
Truthfully, awning covers take a beating from both the sun and the wind and the complaints are numerous concerning OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturers) material. Be aware that heavier fabric and tighter webbing is better when replacing awning material.
Ray a RV technician has a web site on information regarding the technical aspect of rving. He has articles to help you on batteries, electrical, holding tanks, purchasing used rv's, motor home chassis and much more.