If you own a recreational vehicle (RV), you must take steps to ensure its safety and upkeep during the winter months when it’s not likely to be used. Protecting your RV from the weather is one of the foremost concerns, as is keeping vandals and thieves away.
Luckily, you can follow practices check out the below tips for the best RV storage options for the winter months.
The Different Types of Winter RV Storage Options
As a recreational vehicle owner, you might only use your RV during the warmer months. Therefore, your RV might not be used for a good six or seven months out of the year.
With the following winter RV storage options, you can keep the vehicle stored properly during the months it’s not in use:
- Home driveway or street-parking – An RV can be parked year-round in your driveway or on your street, though this can take up space and potentially irritate neighbors or violate a zoning ordinance in your city, township or borough.
- Wrap-around cover – The outside of an RV can be covered up during winter to protect against snow and rain, though this doesn’t protect it from all other outdoor environment threats.
- Outdoor storage – The cheapest way to store your RV offsite is to rent a parking space at an outdoor facility. Security can vary, and the vehicle will be exposed throughout the winter.
- Covered storage – Some outdoor storages provide roofs or awnings for all vehicles on the lot, which provides better coverage, but it still leaves your RV somewhat exposed during cold months.
- Indoor storage – The most secure offsite option is an indoor storage site, which can be pricey. It won’t leave your RV exposed to weather or the elements, and it isn’t available in all areas.
- Carport – You can keep your RV covered on your property by setting up a carport, the roof of which will keep the vehicle protected from snow and rainfall.
- Home garage – You can store your RV in your home garage if there’s enough space. Smaller RVs can fit into spacious two-car garages, but larger RVs are generally too big for this option.
- Steel building – The best winter RV storage option is to buy an external steel garage, which can be specifically sized to house and protect the vehicle during winter months.
Each option has its pros and cons. To determine the best RV storage options for your recreational vehicle, you’ll need to determine your needs as an RV owner.
Should you decide to store the RV on your own property, you’ll also have to assess how much space it will consume. Even if you opt to have the RV stored someplace else, you’ll need to determine how much money you’re willing to invest each year for RV storage.
Should I Park My RV in My Driveway?
If you don’t want to invest in RV storage, yet you can’t fit the vehicle into your garage, the driveway might be your preferred option. Then again, an RV could also be too large for the driveway. Here’s a look at some of the pros and cons of driveway storage:
- Safe – A driveway is a relatively safe place to park an RV, considering that it keeps the vehicle on your property and hopefully under the protective eyes of your neighborhood. Therefore, theft or vandalism are unlikely.
- Accessible – When you keep your RV parked on your property, you can take it out for a trip anytime, day or night. Some of the most fun trips are done spontaneously, but it’s not always possible if your RV is stored someplace else.
- Free – As with your garage, it’s free to park an RV in your driveway.
- Takes up space – An RV can take up considerable space in a driveway. If your driveway leads to a single-car garage, the RV might take up the entire driveway and prevent you from using the driveway for other vehicles.
- Infestation – Since the RV will be parked out in the open, insects or other animals could more easily make their way inside.
- Weather and the elements – With no roof to protect it, the RV could be hit by whatever falls from the sky during winter months, from the heaviest rain to the thickest snow to heavy tree branches. Over time, this can damage the surface and cause cracks in the paint, which could make the RV vulnerable to rust.
- Neighborhood zoning – People in nearby houses might not be thrilled by the site of a large RV in your driveway or on the street in front of your home. It might be your property, but it still might be against the rules of your neighborhood to park an RV in your driveway.
The driveway option is most practical on larger residential properties – preferably those where nearby houses are substantially spread apart – with ample parking space for two or more vehicles.
Will a Wrap-Around Cover Protect My RV?
One relatively inexpensive way to keep an RV covered during winter is to wrap it with a cover. The ultimate benefits of this option could all depend on where you keep the RV stored – on your property or at an outdoor storage lot. Some of the pros and cons include:
- Covered – An RV-sized vehicle wrap will keep the tops and sides of the RV protected from the rain and snow.
- Inexpensive – A wrap-around vehicle cover is relatively inexpensive. Pricing varies depending on the size of the RV.
- Infestation – A wrap-around vehicle cover is not bug-proof. Insects can still make their way into the RV and nest during cold months.
- Weather and the elements – A good quality cover will shield the top and sides of an RV, but the underside will still be exposed, which could be problematic if the snow gets thick or if it gets significantly wet from heavy rain.
- Vulnerable – When parked out in the open, a covered RV could still be stolen or vandalized.
If you do want to cover your RV when it’s not in use, make sure the cover is made of breathable material. Don’t use a tarp, which blocks ventilation and can lead to mold growth in wet weather.
Will My RV Be Safe at an Outdoor Storage Lot?
If you don’t have room on your property to store the RV during winter – or if you simply wish to conserve space and store your RV elsewhere – an outdoor storage lot could be an ideal option. Preferably, you’d want to find a lot located near your home. Pros and cons for outdoor storage lots include:
- Monitored – When parked inside a gated, outdoor lot, the RV will be under the watchful eye of the staff, which is a deterrent for vandals and thieves.
- Inexpensive – Of all the off-site storage options, an outdoor lot can be the least expensive.
- Not exactly guaranteed – Outdoor lots can vary in terms of security. Some are monitored 24/7, and others are not. Some lots have insurance policies and will take accountability for lost or damaged RVs, whereas others offer no such protections.
- Infestation – As with all other outdoor storage options, an RV could be vulnerable to animals and insects.
- Weather and the elements – If left uncovered, the RV will be exposed to the weather.
When it comes to outdoor storage lots, you get what you pay for. If the fee is very inexpensive, you might not get much protection for your vehicle. Choose your outdoor storage lot wisely. Research the lot and their policies before you entrust them with your RV.
Are Covered Storage Lots Safe for RVs?
At some storage lots, they offer additional protection with roofs or awnings. While the sides of the RV could still be exposed to the outside atmosphere at a covered storage, the vehicle itself is protected from the impact of rain and snow. Some pros and cons for a covered outdoor lot include:
- Monitored – At a covered facility, RVs are monitored by security staff. With the added protection of the cover itself, recreational vehicles are often safer on these lots.
- Reasonably covered – With the roof or awning overhead, the RV is protected from heavy downpours, harsh hail and heavy snow in the winter months.
- Relatively inexpensive – Space at a covered storage lot can cost a little more than a space at an open lot, but they still tend to be very affordable.
- Not exactly guaranteed – As with an open lot, an RV won’t necessarily be insured against damage or even theft when stored in an open space.
- Infestation – Once again, bugs can easily crawl into the tiny holes and slots of a recreational vehicle.
- Weather and the elements – An RV is still vulnerable to various aspects of strong weather as an open lot, such as wind, freezing temperatures and humidity.
A covered storage lot could be a safe and affordable place to leave your vehicle, but it’s best to read the policies of a given lot before you drop off the RV.
Should I Store My RV at an Indoor Facility?
The safest off-site storage option for your RV when it’s not in use is an indoor facility. This way, the RV is locked in a secure building where it is protected 100% from the elements. However, there are still pros and cons to this option, such as:
- Secure – With the RV locked in an enclosed, guarded space, the chances of your RV ever being lost or stolen are much less. Outdoor storage lots can vary in terms of security, while indoor facilities are usually equipped with surveillance cameras and are only accessible to those with keys.
- Covered – At an indoor facility, your RV will be protected from rain, snow, hail and wind. Bird landings and droppings won’t be an issue, nor will infestations if the facility has regular onsite extermination examinations.
- Pricing – An indoor facility tends to be the costliest of RV rental storage options, so it’s really a matter of your budget for storing the vehicle throughout the months when it’s not in use.
- Accessibility issues – When you have an RV stored at an offsite facility, you might not be able to access the vehicle anytime you want. While some facilities do allow 24 access, others are only open during business hours.
- Rare option – Indoor RV storage facilities can be hard to find. There may or may not be one in your area, or the nearest one may be a long distance from your home.
- Warranties can vary – Not all indoor facilities take responsibility for any damage that occurs to an RV while stored on-site. If a fellow renter bumps into your vehicle, or if the roof storage collapses, the expenses could fall entirely on you. Before renting out space, check a facility’s coverage policies.
An indoor facility, if available, is indeed the safest and most secure offsite RV storage option, but it can also be costly and render your RV inaccessible when you may want it.
Should I Store My RV in a Carport?
If you’d rather keep your RV on your property throughout the winter months, one of the better options is to set up a carport. Granted, you’ll need to make an initial investment in the structure and have room for it on your property, but a carport will keep your RV covered during non-use and leave space free in your garage and driveway. Pros and cons include:
- Covered – A carport will protect your RV from rain, snow, hail, bird droppings and falling objects. With the structure’s sloped roof, rain and snow will fall to the side of the carport and not puddle up or accumulate underneath the vehicle.
- Accessible – With the RV stored in a carport on your property, the RV can be accessed anytime, day or night, for impromptu trips.
- Safe – If the carport is situated within a fenced portion of your property, the RV is unlikely to be stolen or vandalized.
- Infestation – A carport is open-ended at the sides. Therefore, it’s still accessible to insects and other animals.
- Wind and the elements – Strong winds could impact the RV, especially when mixed with side-blown rain, snow or hail.
If you have the space on your property and don’t have a garage, the carport is a much better RV storage option than your home garage or driveway, or any indoor/outdoor offsite storage place.
Should I Store My RV in My Home Garage?
- Safe – Inside your enclosed garage, an RV will be safer from theft or damage.
- Covered – A garage will keep an RV covered from heavy downpours, snow, hail, etc. Rust and water damage are of no concern when your garage serves as RV storage.
- Accessible – Since the garage is on your property, your RV is available anytime you need it. This can be especially convenient if you want to embark on an impromptu trip or if you use the RV in colder months. When the RV is stored at an off-site lot or storage facility, you might have to arrange a day or time to access the vehicle.
- Free – Since you already own the garage or pay for it as part of your mortgage, keeping your RV stored in the garage comes at no additional cost.
- Takes up space – An RV can take up a lot space inside a residential garage – space that could otherwise be reserved for your boat, lawn mower, tractor or tool cabinets. You might not have enough room in the garage for the size of your RV.
- Infestation – Pests or other small critters might make their way into your garage if they’re seeking warmth or food, just as they would if the RV was stored outside. If they do get in, they’re also liable to call the RV home.
- Temperature – Your garage will offer more protection that outside storage’s exposure to temperature, but the garage isn’t 100% protected from temperature swings. A garage can get cold in the winter months, as well as humid during summer. If your garage isn’t temperature-controlled, your RV will gradually be exposed to temperature wear – especially if you live in an extreme climate.
Conventional residential garages are built to accommodate a variety of vehicles – cars, vans, trucks, motorcycles and boats. RVs can be added to this list.
What Are the Benefits of Steel Buildings for RVs?
If you have a large RV and truly care about its safety throughout the months when it’s not in use, the best way to keep it stored is inside an enclosed steel structure. A steel building can be constructed on your property to house the RV during winter months and leave your garage and driveway free.
Inside the steel building, the RV won’t have the vulnerabilities it would in an open-air setting and it won’t take up space in a carport or attached garage. Simply put, a steel building is the best of all RV winter storage options. Here are some pros and cons:
- Covered – When stored inside a steel building, your RV is covered all around – top, bottom, front, back and sides. No rain, wind, hail, snow, trees or bird droppings can land on or side-swipe the RV. With periodic extermination, you can even render the steel building – as well as the RV within – bug proof.
- Protected – A steel building is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to break into. Therefore, the possibility of theft or vandalism is unlikely when you store your RV in a steel building.
- Accessible – To keep your RV stored in a steel building on your property, you can pull out the vehicle at any time for a spontaneous getaway.
- Space concerns – A steel building can take up considerable space on your property. Granted, a steel building can be custom-made to the size requirements of your RV, but you’ll need to have land to house the structure.
- Price – A steel building is a considerable investment, and it can be costlier than most offsite storage rentals. On the upside, the investment is one-time, while rental storage is an on-going expense with far fewer benefits.
If you truly value the safety and quality of your RV, then you owe it to yourself and the RV to keep it stored during winter in a steel building.
Buy a Steel Building From MBMI Metal Buildings
Of all the winter RV storage options, none are better at protecting your RV from the weather than a steel building.
At MBMI Metal Buildings, we’ve been providing metal buildings, steel garages and RV storage units for more than 40 years. To learn more about the kinds of structures we offer, read about our metal building types and contact us for a free quote.