How to Select a Portable Garage for Winter Storage
Between heavy snowfalls and ice accumulating on windows, cars and other vehicles go through a fair amount of abuse once the temperature drops. Beyond inconveniencing the driver and a surface dotted with ice pick marks, vehicles potentially experience a high level of damage during winter when not placed in storage: fading and cracks from UV rays, water pooling on top or inside, and mildew and dry rot forming. The result, come spring, is a boat, RV, motorcycle, car, or equipment more likely to breakdown and require extensive repairs.
With strength, effectiveness, and cost meeting together at a single point, a portable garage seems like an ideal choice for winter storage. Yet with powder-coated, enclosed, valance-style, and heavy-duty galvanized steel structures composing your options, how do you select a shelter that not only protects your investment but lasts through the season's harsh conditions?
Regular Usage or Long-Term Storage?
When it comes to winter storage, homeowners and commercial vehicle owners have two possible needs: To keep snow off but to still easily access a vehicle, or to keep it protected from damaging UV rays and moisture for several months at a time. For portable garages, these two factors determine the shelter's style.
Valance and enclosed portable garages with rollup doors provide the features for quick access. An easily-accessible interior allows the vehicle to be moved in and out, while the shelter's design keeps the snow, ice, and UV rays away. Although a driveway may still need to be cleared, the vehicle itself is good to go without any scraping.
On the other hand, seasonal vehicles and equipment, from boats and RVs to tractors only necessary for spring, require full coverage from UV rays and water as they remain in the same spot for months. Enclosed shelters, often available in sizes for specific vehicles, feature UV- and moisture-blocking polyethylene on all sides; once the boat, RV, or farm equipment is inside, the material, along with the sturdy steel frame, prevents the elements from rusting metal, fading and cracking plastic parts, and attracting mildew and rot.
What's the Weather Like?
Depending upon your region, "winter" conjures varying images of weather. In Northeastern states, snowfalls ranging from powdery wisps covering the ground to blizzards resulting in several feet of packed snow covering everything in sight characterize the conditions from November through March. Even then, a Nor'easter may pass through in October, resulting in ice giving cars, sidewalks, and trees a slippery, glossy sheen and bringing down power lines.
The farther south you go, "winter" signifies a drop in temperature, with higher than average rainfalls. Snow, on the other hand, may fall – but is frequently a surprise for drivers and homeowners.
Base a portable garage on your region's standard winter conditions. This means that, if snow is predictable, opt for a stronger shelter with a rounded, rather than peaked, frame. The tunnel-like design allows precipitation to roll down the sides; instead of accumulating on top and weighing down the shelter, snow and rain fall to the ground.
Go for Strength
How do you know if one portable garage is better-suited to withstanding winter conditions than another? While certain qualities, such as galvanized steel, tend to be a barometer of durability, the two aspects to look for are snow load, in pounds per square foot (PSF), and wind resistance, in miles per hour (MPH). The stronger and more resistant a building is, the higher these numbers will be.
For instance, truss buildings offer a 40 PSF snow load and 90 MPH wind resistance. Square tube shelters, meanwhile, withstand 43 PSF snow loads and 80 MPH winds.
Inadequate anchoring is one of the worst mistakes homeowners make when using a portable garage in winter. While a kit may promise a high degree of wind resistance and strength against snow loads, a shelter only fully delivers when anchored.
Nevertheless, anchors aren't universal, and as you order a kit and assess your property before winter, make sure your set provides the maximum, or at least sufficient, effectiveness. For instance, auger anchors provide optimal stability in rocky soil, sand, and grassy areas, while a duckbill style is better-suited for softer ground. If the shelter is being anchored onto concrete or asphalt, footplates with predrilled holes allow the portable garage to be attached to the surface.
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