Using Carports for Storage

Portable storage buildings have been one option for storage. Whether a carport or a portable garage, one of these medium-sized shelters – one slightly larger than one car – can protect a vehicle and store other various objects. Some use these shelters much like a shed to store tools or to work in, or else the shelter can store any random items that would likely be placed in a brick-and-mortar garage if the home had one. But, as zoning laws for carports have been a common topic on this blog, some zoning or property rules don’t allow carports to be used as storage. While such a law applies more to open carports than fully-enclosed portable garages, what can be stored in a carport can be an issue depending upon where you live.

In the case of the article linked above, the condo association allowed carports but they were to be used for cars only. While only vehicles were allowed in these structures, bikes and outdoor toys like basketball hoops were not. This caused the residents of the condo in Granby, Connecticut to move to neighboring town Simsbury, but the fact remains that towns, landlords, and condo associations can restrict where you can place, how large, and what is inside a carport.

Owning a carport, at least gathered from information about carport zoning laws or property laws, may come with some restrictions. So you’re not surprised after purchasing a carport through a website like Shelters of America or Portable Garage Depot, inquiring about any zoning laws if you own a home or any property rules if you own a condo or rent is advised not only for your convenience but also for picking out the best structure.

Safety with Carports

Carports, although they effectively protect a vehicle, don’t offer the same safety as a brick-and-mortar garage. This isn’t to say that the structure will easily collapse on the vehicle, but, instead, that the openness of a carport allows thieves and burglars to break into the car easily. Although various zoning laws require carports to be in the back of someone’s property – theoretically out of sight – someone looking to steal will cut through a property to the back. After all, many home break-ins start from the back or side of a house – not the front. Although carports have different degrees of coverage ranging from a basic metal or polyethylene roof to full, all-around coverage, a car is safe from rain and snow but not burglars.

One newspaper in Australia, the Manning River Times suggests that valuables shouldn’t be left in a car when it’s covered by a carport, as well as any other outdoor structures used for covering a car or other vehicle. While leaving a cell phone or iPod charging overnight might seem safer when the car is in the back of your home as opposed to the street, a car is susceptible to break-ins any time it’s exposed.

The obvious solution to this issue is to not leave any valuables in a car. While stealing a car from a carport could prove to be difficult, especially if the carport is located at the back of your home, breaking into a car doesn’t involve driving away with the vehicle. Even if the item is small, like a cell phone, iPod, or GPS, the electronic device should still be brought inside. If the device simply has to be left in a car parked in a carport, it should be obscured from view. This way, someone looking inside your car wouldn’t have a clear incentive to break inside and steal anything.

Electric Cars Used with Solar Carports on LI

Carports used for solar power have been in the news recently, especially in North America. The last post covered the largest solar carport, which is located at a New Jersey college, but most news items regarding these types of carports haven’t covered a combination we saw in England several months ago: solar carports used with electric cars. But a news item recently covers this combination at a school in Long Island experimenting with both solar carports and using electric cars with them. The school, the New York Institute of Technology, has designed the carports and has been using Toyota Prius cars with them.

The college, located in Old Westbury, created solar carports, according to the article, that can produce 33 kilowatt hours of electricity per day. With one carport per parking spot, charging an electric car in one of these spaces gives enough power for a 20 mile commute. The actual design of these particular carports, as implied by the article, involves one carport per space, not the large carport shelters seen in the last post at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. Nevertheless, while students are in class, they can park and plug their cars into one of these spaces under a solar carport and charge up the car. While some students may drive more than 20 miles per day, they can charge the Prius cars at home using a large extension cords. As some students at the school are involved in a drive-share program, they’re encouraged to take the Prius cars from school to home and back again.

This solar carport is the first of its kind on Long Island. According to the article, it was funded by the LIPA and federal Department of Energy as an experiment but also an effort to attempt to replace traditional energy with solar and, with the electric cars, to reduce emissions on the island.

Solar Carport at NJ College

Where’s the largest carport located? Richard Stockton College of New Jersey apparently has the largest carport – metal or polyethylene, it’s not specified in the article — but the structure isn’t used only as a carport. Instead, like many similar green structures, this large carport is being used for solar power. As metal carports seem to be designed appropriately, angle and strength, to suppose photovoltaic panels, this structure keeps on being used in the United States and Great Britain in projects to incorporate more solar power. With its size, this carport uses 851.8 kilowatts of power and will save, in time, 1.2 megawatts of power.

Many companies and schools are finding ways to go green. This option often involves creating a solar powered carport to give power to a building. In the UK, company Romag, as we read earlier, created a similar model for general solar power for a power grid and to power electric cars. In New Jersey, this particular carport involved the first allocation of federal economic stimulus funding to the state. As the carport was funded by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the stimulus money seemed like a reasonable way to find a green energy project.

Carports, particularly metal carports, appear to be ideal for this task of incorporating solar power into areas that would automatically rely on a less environmentally-friendly form, be it nuclear, electric, or coal fuel. But this structure works two-fold: While the Richard Stockton College is able to use solar energy and reduce its carbon footprint, students at the school also get a parking space in the shade. Does this indicate that carports may be covering all parking lots in the future? Perhaps or maybe not, but all of that depends on how far businesses, schools, and communities, as well as individuals, go with experimenting with solar energy.

Carport Zoning Laws, Part Two

Many people have carports, as they’re a far more economical way for covering your car than creating a brick-and-mortar garage from scratch. But, as we’ve seen before, many towns consider carports part of a home or, in other cases, another building on a property. Although the galvanized steel and polyethylene building can be put up or taken down at any point during the year, many towns require your carport or other portable shelter to meet certain zoning laws. As we saw previously in a post about carport zoning laws in Idaho Falls, portable garages and carports are sometimes considered permanent structures and, if you’re considering purchasing one, you should consult your local zoning laws and building codes before looking at shelters.

A similar issue has come about in Rowlett, Texas, except it concerns changing zoning laws in regards to carports. Essentially, how a carport is built defines what type of structure it is. If you have an older carport attached to your home, it generally considered part of the house and is subject to any similar building codes. A structure not attached to a home, such as the many carports at Portable Garage Depot and Shelters of America, is considered an accessory structure. For this building, a carport is restricted by size and is considered less structurally sound. In addition, such carports need to be less than 500 square feet, as the town requires buildings of this size to have a sprinkler system.

What do you do in such an instance? If your current carport, assuming you live in Rowlett, does not meet these standards, the structure will need to be modified. For those looking for a new carport, most single or two-car carports fit into the requirements, as long as you don’t attach one to your home. But, since carports and sheds fall into the same category, a larger carport may need to be purchased if you’re looking for space to store vehicles and other items. In this case, a structure less than 20 feet by 25 feet should suffice.

Solar Carports: Incorporating Solar Panels on Carports

Over the past year, various news items in the United States and Europe have covered the use of carports for setting up solar energy sources. Some, like a recent news story about using solar carports in the school system for San Luis Obispo, CA involve attaching photovoltaic panels, or solar panels, to carports in school parking lots to generate solar energy for the school. But, in Britain, this similar solar carport design is more of a charging device for electric cars. This type of design would also have solar panels attached to carport structures. When an electric car parks under these structures, the car charges to have enough energy.

Regardless of whether the solar power is used for charging electric cars or for simply powering a school, the key here is the design of the carport. Although a polyethylene, or portable, carport is out of the question, using the design for metal carports is more practical. While metal or concrete carports have been in use for these solar carports, the roof of the structure needs to be large and strong enough to support multiple solar panels. While most carports have a peaked roof, a metal structure can still be used for these solar carports, as long as the roof is flat and angled.

But why carports, exactly? Why not simply attach the carports at an angle to the roof of a building? As seen in this article, the carports, solar panels or not, are being used as carports should: for shade and to protect the vehicles from sun and rain. Adding solar panels to a carport is simply a double functioning structure. On one hand, many carports in a parking lot can shade and protect several cars, and the surface area from the roofs of the carports can be used for supporting solar panels. The car-charging design used by some carports charges the cars in addition to the basic function of a carport.

Zoning Laws for Carports

Installing a carport is significantly more convenient and economical than constructing a brick-and-mortar garage from scratch. Both structures, however, may need local approval, as seen in a recent news item about a man fighting for his carport. For him, as well as others, the carport on his property doesn’t comply with local zoning regulations. This includes the dimensions of the building, as well as having one on his property. But when does a carport, portable garage, or temporary shed constitute as a permanent structure in the same vein as a deck or porch? According to the article, this is generally when the structure is cemented into the ground. If you plan to pull the structure from the ground and not keep it in place permanently, the carport or portable garage doesn’t need a building permit.

For those that want a carport or portable garage on their property, this poses somewhat of a dilemma, but that can be quickly resolved by contacting any local office in charge on zoning regulations. As these temporary structures may count as permanent, contact your local office about getting a building permit anyway for one of these structures. If you do need a building permit, ask:

• Does a carport count as a permanent structure only if you have to put it in the ground? Is it not a permanent structure if you don’t cement it or set it in concrete and take it down for part of the year? As RV and boat canopies may only be up for part of the year, asking this is important, as putting up an RV canopy might end up being a permanent structure needing approval in your area.
• What dimensions are allowed? Where on my property can I put this building? As
carports and other portable storage buildings come in a number of sizes, zoning laws may have limits on how large a portable garage, carport, or RV shelter can be, as well as where you can place it on your property.

As purchasing a portable shelter can be a small investment, asking these questions before you purchase a portable storage building might help you from picking a product that can’t be put up on your property.

Purchasing a Metal Carport

If you don’t have a garage attached to your home, one option is to add a carport to protect your car. Or, in some cases, if you’re a business owner and are looking for a place for employees to park their cars in the shade, having a large carport is also beneficial. In either case, portable carports come in two varieties: polyethylene canopy and metal. Both carports are sturdy structures that will protect your investments – cars, in this case – but what if you’re looking for a structure that can protect long term? In that case, a metal carport may be the best investment for protecting your vehicles.

A metal carport starts with the same galvanized steel frame that all portable structures have. The roof of one of these carports, however, is also metal – galvanized steel – but coated in silicon for a long-lasting surface. In fact, metal carport roofs with a silicon coating have a warranty of twenty years. The real purpose of having a sturdy roof over your vehicle is to protect it and, in the case of a metal carport, this means being able to keep out UV rays and rain. A metal roof does this naturally without any additional treatments, so a car parked under one of these won’t be exposed to UV rays or become wet.

If you’re considering purchasing a metal carport, these structures will last for several years – even decades – and come in a number of sizes. While the design is generally a peaked roof structure, some metal carports are longer than others and may be better suited for protecting an RV. Some metal carports are longer and, instead, may be able to protect multiple cars or other vehicles. To meet your needs, metal carports come in a number of sizes and can be set into the ground, asphalt, and concrete surfaces.

What is a Carport?

In the portable shelter industry, a carport is essentially the same thing as a portable garage: a galvanized steel structure with a heavy-duty polyethylene canopy roof. However, the term “carport” often refers to any structure that protects a car. In some cases, a carport is built directly into a building as a metal or mortar structure that shelters cars from the elements temporarily. In the case of portable shelters, carports come in polyethylene and metal roof varieties, but both designs to the same type of job. In addition, unlike a carport built into your house or building, one of these portable designs can be placed anywhere on your property that your car can access.

The structure of all carports is composed of a galvanized steel frame and a roof that keeps out the rain and the sun. The structure, additionally, allows air to circulate around the vehicle. In the case of polyethylene canopy carports, the canopy is heavy-duty polyethylene and treated to be waterproof, UV resistant, rot resistant, and mildew resistant. In many cases, the canopy is also fire resistant. A metal canopy has all of these same properties with a steel roof. The air circulation beneath the roof prevents mildew and dry rot from forming on the vehicle.

In terms of purchasing a portable carport, both polyethylene and metal carports will do the job. If you’re looking for a long-term temporary structure, a metal carport will generally last ten to fifteen years before needing a replacement. Polyethylene canopy carports, on the other hand, will need a canopy replacement at some point but, if you’re considering expanding your carport at a later date to accommodate more vehicles or storage, a polyethylene canopy carport allows more structure flexibility. By taking your storage needs into consideration, one of these structures will be able to protect all of your investments.