Storage Sites vs. Storing a Seasonal Vehicle Yourself

After watching this commercial, does anything seem wrong to you? If you didn’t catch it, watch it again a second time and check out where and how the RVs are being stored. Yes – you probably saw it for a few seconds on screen. The RVs are being stored in an open parking lot, which is where they stay during the winter. Although Seaport Storage claims to store boats and RVs, the location of the vehicles is outdoors – left unprotected to the elements. In terms of a long lifespan for your seasonal vehicle, is such a place ideal for keeping it in shape?

As we’ve mentioned before here, seasonal vehicles left outdoors for several months at a time are exposed to the elements. The prolonged exposure causes UV damage to the surface of the vehicle, often in faded paint and cracked parks, and the water damage can lead to mildew and dry rot on the surface. The best solution for keeping one of these vehicles is to put it in storage, either with a portable storage shelter like those at Shelters of America or Portable Garage Depot or, if you own one already, a brick-and-mortar garage. Left outdoors for six months of the year, the vehicle won’t give you as much usage as it could.

This ties into the last post, in which residents of DeWitt, New York, will need to store their seasonal vehicles, and their respective, shelters in the backs of their homes. Keeping a boat or RV in a driveway became illegal as of January 1, 2010, although various neighborhoods around the city without large enough backyards have petitioned the local government. Nevertheless, if you plan to use such a storage facility like Seaport Storage or a similar company, check first to see if they’ll let you use a portable shelter.

Property Laws for Boat and RV Storage

Using a portable storage shelter to protect your RV or boats during the winter months is a practical and economical idea but, like carports and portable garages, these shelters may experience some restrictions on where they can be placed. In recent news, DeWitt, New York enacted a law regarding these vehicles being placed in driveways and front yards. For those who own these vehicles, the only viable option to meet these laws is to keep the vehicle stored in the backyard. Like most similar laws, this one in DeWitt became effective January 1, 2010, to keep property values in the city up, as RVs and boats are considered eyesores.

Some neighbors have petitioned the city to make an exception for their area, but, at this moment, such a law is up in the air, according to the article linked above. Those who don’t store their vehicle in an inconspicuous place face a fine of $200. At the moment, RVs, boats, and similar seasonal vehicles like snowmobiles can be left in front of the property for ten days, before the owner is fined for breaking the law. However, not all homes, especially those in a city, are equipped with large enough backyards for an RV or boat and a shelter, and what should someone do in this case?

In some cases, the logical step would be to put the vehicle in storage or, especially for boats, to store it near a water source away from home. Not everyone has this luxury, however, and storing such a vehicle on their property is far more economical than finding a storage facility that won’t keep an RV outdoors. At the moment, those in DeWitt are waiting for updates on this law for their neighborhoods but, even if you don’t live in DeWitt, your city, town, or neighborhood could have such restrictions. Like going to purchase a carport, check your local laws in regards to owning such a vehicle and the shelter needed to protect it.

What to do When Using Seasonal Vehicle Structures

RV ShelterWinter is now approaching and many who go boating, fishing, or camping in the warmer months have put their seasonal vehicles in storage. With a few options for storing seasonal vehicles on the market, the best portable options are to use a boat or RV shelter. Much like portable garages but designed with appropriate dimensions, these seasonal vehicle shelters can cover such a boat or RV for several months. As a vehicle shouldn’t be left outside and boat wrapping methods may lock moisture inside, which can lead to mold forming, a structure that shelters but allows air to circulate offers the best protection.

When setting up a boat or RV shelter, these can be placed anywhere on your property. The shelter, unlike a carport or portable garage for everyday vehicles, should have all-around protection. More specifically, this means that the shelter not only needs to have a polyethylene canopy roof but also side and back walls. A zipper or roll-up door should be in front. If the vehicle didn’t come with side walls, a back, or front door, these can be bought separately and attached to the galvanized steel frame. After the shelter has been set up and anchored into the ground, the vehicle can go inside and stay for several months.

But, at this point, the care for the seasonal vehicle isn’t done. When storing a seasonal vehicle, it needs to be checked periodically. As these shelters should have zipper or roll-up front doors, you can unzip or roll up the door and go inside the shelter to check for any small animals that could have gotten inside and to check for any mold or mildew that formed on the surface. While the latter doesn’t happen often because air is allowed to circulate somewhat, small animals like squirrels or mice might have found their way into a boat and will need to be removed.

Vents for Portable Shelters

While portable storage buildings allow for some air circulation, a shelter may need additional ventilation, especially if it’s storing a seasonal vehicle like a boat or RV. One option to allow more air circulation is to install a vent into the polyethylene canopy at the back of the structure. This way, both heat and condensation can exit the structure easily and cleaner air can circulate around inside. Stores like Shelters of America and Portable Garage Depot sell such vent kits that allow you to allow a plastic vent to the back of a canopy structure. Once you have such a kit, you can cut a hole in the polyethylene canopy and follow the installation instructions for adding a vent.

In general, a vent kit comes with two durable injection molded vents. These plastic vents are designed with UV protection and weather resistant resins. This way, the vent won’t be damaged when outside for an extended period of time. Each vent comes with pre-drilled holes so that it can be attached to the canopy easily with basic hardware. As mentioned before, a hole large enough for the vent will need to be cut into the polyethylene material. Additionally, two vents can be used at once, depending on your or the shelter’s needs, or one can be used as a replacement.

Why would a canopy need a vent? Although canopies are designed to be waterproof and mildew and rot resistant, some water still may find its way inside the shelter. Without enough ventilation, the shelter could cause dry rot or mildew to build up on a vehicle while in storage for several months. Although canopy shelters like portable garages and sheds allow for some circulation, additional ventilation may be needed for a shelter. Adding one or two vents to a portable garage will allow additional circulation to lessen the chance or dry rot or mildew building up on a vehicle.

Why Use a Seasonal Vehicle Shelter?

Seasonal vehicles, as explained by their name, can only be used for certain parts of the year. Whether you go camping with an RV or smaller camper or prefer to go boating, any of these vehicles need to be put in storage. For some who own a brick and mortar garage, this is a no-brainer, as a boat or camper will fit in the garage. But what do you do if you don’t own a garage? One option is to put up a portable storage building for your shelter. Such dealers as Portable Garage Depot and Shelters of America make portable storage sheds specifically designed for these buildings, including RVs with a longer body and additional height.

Some might argue that leaving your vehicle outside exposes it to the elements. Of course, this is actually leaving your vehicle outdoors and not fully protected by a shelter. Any portable shelter for a seasonal vehicle consists of a galvanized steel frame and a polyethylene canopy. The canopy, which covers the roof and all sides, is made from heavy-duty polyethylene and is treated to be UV resistant, waterproof, and rot and mildew resistant. But, as some air is allowed to circulate under the canopy, moisture doesn’t get trapped under the shelter, as it does with shrink-wrapping a boat, and the vehicle won’t have dry rot, mildew, or mold build up on its surface.

These structures, essentially, can be stored anywhere on your property and can last through rain, wind, and snow. Some structures, however, are better for more extreme weather conditions like snow. If your area experiences large snowfalls, a rounded roof shelter is better for long-term protection of your boat, RV, or other seasonal vehicle, as the snow or water will roll off the roof instead of building up on top. With full protection on all sides, weather, including UV rays and water, generally stays away from the vehicle. But, as animals can come in, checking on the vehicle occasionally is a good idea.

Setting up an RV Shelter

If you’re someone who goes camping regularly, you would like your RV or camper to last several years. Owning an RV requires significant maintenance, especially as it is a seasonal vehicle and will be in storage for several months during the year. One way to store an RV is by using a large portable garage, particularly a rounded roof style portable building. This type of portable building is longer than average and is usually designed as being taller and narrower than peaked roof portable garages. For a better idea of how RV storage with a rounded roof portable garage works, watch the Shelters of America video below:

Two options are available for at-home RV storage if you don’t own a brick-and-mortar garage: an RV tarp or a portable garage. While custom fitted RV canopies are available, a portable garage shaped for your RV, much like the rounded roof portable buildings seen in the video above, gives the vehicle more breathing room and, when the RV is in use, the shelter can function as a carport or as additional storage during the summer months.

When picking out one of these shelters for an RV, the one thing to consider is how large the structure should be. First, all of the dimensions of the vehicle should be taken into account, and this includes the height, width, and length of the vehicle. Any appendages to the vehicle, such as roof ventilation should be added to the overall dimensions. As an RV will be in storage for several months, the building should be slightly larger than the vehicle, or large enough that the vehicle and a person can fit inside. Although the building itself is designed to protect the RV from UV and water exposure, the vehicle should still be checked for dry rot, mildew, and if any small animals crawled inside.

Larger-Sized Shelters

One of the benefits of using a portable garage as opposed to a brick and mortar structure is the versatility. If you ever need to expand your storage space for additional vehicles or other items, a brick and mortar structure is, essentially, permanent and significant modifications may need to get made. With a portable garage or carport, kits can be purchased to expand the dimensions of the shelter to accommodate more vehicles. Typically, peaked roof portable garage shelters are able to be expanded more, and this includes in both width and length. While many of these shelters are designed to protect one vehicle, be it a single car or an RV, these can be expanded to cover more two or more vehicles.

With portable garage kits, one of these shelters can be expanded by adding additional components to the frame and adding a new roof. However, various other models are available to already accommodate two or more cars. These designs can house two cars in a peaked-roof shelter, while others can be large enough to hold four cars. For outdoor events needing parking, some of these shelters can cover up to six cars. But, if you plan on covering a car and a seasonal vehicle like an RV in the same structure, having a larger portable shelter should be designed with the height of the RV in mind.

Aside from the width and length of one of these portable shelters to accommodate multiple cars, a large-sized portable shelter is capable of accommodating multiple seasonal vehicles, including boats and RVs. For the latter, certain taller portable shelters are designed for these vehicles, including both rounded and peaked roof structure designs. In terms of expanding a shelter to accommodate more vehicles, a peaked roof shelter is more ideal in this case, but, specifically for RVs, the length can be expanded to house one vehicle in front of the other in a tunnel-like structure.

Protecting your RV or Camper

What do you do when you need to protect a seasonal vehicle for several months? For those who’ve purchased an RV or camper, the vehicle is a considerable investment. That means, during the winter, the RV needs to be in storage instead of exposed to the elements, or else the vehicle won’t last as long. If left outside without storage, an RV is exposed to the sun and rain. When exposed to UV rays over a prolonged period, the surface colors fades and plastic parts, both inside and on the outside, can crack. Water accumulating on the vehicle from rain can result in mildew forming on the outside. While tarping an RV is one option, the securest way to protect your vehicle is with an RV shelter or canopy.

An RV canopy is composed like any ordinary portable shelter, with a galvanized steel frame and a heavy-duty polyethylene canopy. In the case of an RV shelter, the structure is long and tall to fit at least one RV. When protecting any of these vehicles, the steel structure can last long term, while the canopy is treated to withstand the elements. More specifically, one of these heavy-duty polyethylene canopies is waterproof, UV resistant, mildew, and rot resistant and, in some cases, fire resistant. As the vehicle needs some circulation to prevent dry rot and mildew from forming, an RV shelter allows some air to circulate around the vehicle while in storage.

When looking for sizing for the shelter, take into account the full vehicle. For example, if an air vent is on top of the RV, this will need to be added to the dimensions, so that the RV can fit properly into the shelter. In addition, the RV will need to be checked on occasion while in storage, as small animals may have gotten under the canopy. Rounded roof portable shelters are ideal for RV storage, as they protect the RV fully. The front door to this structure is either a zipper or roll-up door and, when examining the RV, you simply need to walk into the shelter and inspect you any damage.