Tag Archive for: Girard awnings

Girard Awnings Remote Control

Simple function. Bad user interface design.

I am referring to the Girard Awning Remote Control. Specifically the remote known as part number 98GC1029. This is what it looks like:


Let me back up for a minute. Why was I suddenly so keenly interested in this particular remote?

Because it would not open both awnings. Only the awning up front.

The reason was simple enough. I could visually see only one red LED on the remote when pressing the “OUT” button. As this remote is a 5-channel remote, it does have the ability to send a signal out to all the channels or just one of the five.

Judging by the single red LED, the remote was sending the signal out to only one awning. Consequently, only that one awning would deploy. I must have pressed something on the remote to switch it to a single channel mode.

How to get the remote to send a signal out to all of our awnings? That was the question. Looking at the remote, it is not obvious what key you might need to press to select a channel. The up arrow with the helpful label “IN” retracts an awning on the designated channel or channels. The down arrow, labelled “OUT” will deploy the awning on the designated channel or channels. And the unlabelled icon that looks like a lightbulb about to explode will turn the awning lights on or off.

That last icon, the circle with an arrowhead, I wonder what it does?

Yes indeed. It changes the channels!

Pressing it will select a channel. You can visually confirm the channel by looking at the red LED on the remote. There are no numbers beside the LEDs and nothing to tell you why you should care about the lights. The function of the lights are not obvious unless you are a Girard engineer. In practice, you might not know your remote is the problem if you don’t happen to look at the lights when pressing the “OUT” button.

Keep pressing the circle with the arrowhead button until you reach a point where pressing it lights up all five of the LEDs on the remote. At that point, all of the awnings will respond to the remote control.

This remote has been around for at least ten years or more. What would it take, I wonder, to produce a remote with a clear function labelled “SELECT AWNING”. Or a remote with a legend on the back. And possibly a section on the website with a handy little tutorial on how to use the unintelligible icons and LED lights on Girard remotes.

Girard Awning Install

See any differences between the front awning on the left and the front awning on the right?

The one on the left has an awning that was not inserted properly into the guide rail which is why the awning edge is not taut. You can see how taut the edge line is on the right awning.

The lights on the left awning, aside from being a totally different colour and spacing, end almost a foot before the edge. On the right, the lights are uniform, evenly and tightly spaced and end at the edge.

The lights on the left awning are twisted in the lighting rail which is why you can see some lights that are bright and others that appear dim. The lights on the right are consistent as they are not twisted in the lighting rail.

This photo gives you a better sense as to the lighting issue.

There is no way that these lights on the left match the factory lights. They are not even close. One side has a blue colourcast and the lights are loosely spaced and the other side has a white colourcast and the lights are tightly spaced. The lights on the left are twisted in the track which means they point in different directions which gives an unpleasant lighting spread across the coach.

Oh, and the LED strand is too short for the awning on the left. Which is ironic as Girard shipped a replacement awning that was too long and had to be cut back.

To sum up.

Girard awnings can randomly deploy and when they do a random deployment may cause significant damage to your awning. In our case, the dealer experienced the random deployment as they brought our coach into service. The front awning received severe damage and it had to be replaced.

Girard shipped us replacement parts that did not fit and had to be cut to size and they provided replacement lighting that was incompatible with our coach.

It took over six weeks to resolve the issue. We spent almost four weeks stranded at the dealer waiting to find out how this issue was going to be resolved. When Girard, Newmar and the dealer finally agreed on how the issue would be resolved, it took over two weeks to get the parts shipped to the dealer.

We found out about the lighting issue about two hours before we had to leave for our trip south. At that point, I was not going to wait any longer. The dealer did all that they could do and it was not their fault that Girard shipped the incorrect lighting strand.

At least we have awnings that we can use and we can get the lighting resolved later.

The awnings could still randomly deploy. I make sure to unplug them from the 110v outlets before travelling with the coach.

Girard Awnings Again

Our little saga with the Girard awnings continues.

I’ll share with you one issue that we had to resolve and it led me to conclude that the random deployment issue may not be a grounding or wiring issue. Working on this issue highlighted an interesting finding. The Girard awnings are controlled by RF, specifically 433.92 MHz. This is a very common band used widely and subject to interference. You can read all about this regulated band at the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations.

Could the random deployment issue be due to RF interference?

On then, to one of our issues with our Girard awnings — I’ll save issue two for tomorrow.

Pictured above is the only way we have to control our awnings right now. I had never used this remote before the random deployment of the Girard awning.

There is a second controller located in one of our cabinets. That is the one we always used only now it doesn’t work. The only way we are able to control the awnings is with the small handheld remote.

At first I thought that the wall switch was hard-wired to the motor control module in the basement of our coach and that the dealer had not reconnected the wiring to the wall switch.

Not the case. We have a 5-channel wall switch, model 98GC661B. It operates on RF and it needs to be paired with the motor control modules. We have two motor control modules, one for each awning. And they are both the same model: GC274B.

I guess the dealer forgot to pair the wall switch to the motor control modules.

Girard was kind enough to help me understand that for our motor control module each step in the following process must be executed within 10 seconds of the previous one or the module will revert to factory settings.

It makes the process a two-person job. One inside the coach at the wall switch with a walkie-talkie or some other form of communication device and the other at the bay with the motor control modules.

First things first.

Ensure that the motor control modules are plugged into the 110v outlets and that there is power to the modules. For some strange reason, red lights indicate that the unit is powered and operational.

Remove the lids of the motor control modules pressing the lid release tabs on the top and bottom.

Press the program button on the motor control module. The green LED should start blinking.

Press the stop button on the motor control module. It is the centre button on the top of the unit. The green LED should now be solid.

Ask your helper to selected the desired channel on the wall switch. This is done by pressing the “CH” key until the desired single channel is highlighted. The wall switch LED is not all that easy to read and it is important to find a single channel as there will be an all-channel option at some point when pressing the “CH” button repeatedly.

Ask your helper to press the “IN” button on the wall switch. The green LED on the motor control module should turn off.

At this point, pairing should be complete. Press the OUT, STOP and IN buttons alternately on the wall switch to confirm pairing.

Repeat the process for the second motor control module and use a different single channel as that will allow for independent control of the two awnings. The wall switch does allow an all-channel mode to group the two awnings.

What else is amiss with our awnings?

More on our ongoing saga with Girard awnings tomorrow.

Girard Awning Stuck?

Your Girard awnings won’t extend? They won’t retract? Are they stuck hanging outside your coach?

That happened to us a few days ago. And the solution for our coach was not something that you will find in a manual.

I was doing some outside work on our 2016 Newmar Dutch Star 4002. It is equipped with the Girard Nova Awnings.

Everything looked fine.

I went inside the coach and pressed the “IN” button to retract the awnings.

The awnings began to retract and, about halfway through the process, they stopped. They were stuck.

The awnings were partially deployed. They would not go in. They would not go out.

What could be wrong?

I did the usual: read through the manual, jumped on the Girard website, searched Google. And, after a few hours of floundering, I gave up and called the service manager at our dealer.

He knew exactly what to do.

Inside one of our bays are two Girard control devices. Our service manager called them “turtles”.

They look like this:

These two are working normally because the two indicator lights at the upper left are on. Not sure why the Girard engineers chose red LEDs as the normal condition light indicator. Wouldn’t a green LED indicator make more sense?

When our awnings became stuck, both those lights were off.

If you follow where they are plugged in, you will find something interesting marked on the outlet:

Well, look at that! They are plugged into a GFCI protected circuit.

Important to note: they are not plugged into a GFCI outlet. The plug is tied to a GFCI outlet. There is no reset button at this plug. We had to go hunting for the GFCI  outlets elsewhere in the coach.

Our service manager asked us to reset two GFCI outlets. One in our kitchen galley and one in our small washroom mid-coach.

He suspected that there was some kind of voltage issue that caused the GFCI circuits to trip. One of the awnings was tied to the GFCI outlet in the kitchen, the other was tied to the GFCI outlet in the small washroom.

Finding said GFCI outlets is a bit of a trick.

In our case, the GFCI outlet in the kitchen was directly underneath one of the top row of cabinets.

You can make out the two buttons in the middle of the GFCI outlet. It takes a bit more work to press reset than I expected. There is quite a bit of travel and you have to really press down.

The reset button for our outlets is in the top position. The other button is a test button. If you press that one, the outlet may not reset.

In the small bathroom, the GFCI outlet was located inside our medicine cabinet.

We tested both of those outlets to make sure they were working before heading back down to the bay which holds the two Girard “turtles”. The indicator lights on the Girard controllers were back on.

Pressing the “IN” button retracted the Girard awnings. Success.

Filed under “Not in the manual” and “The things they don’t tell you about maintaining your coach”.