It used to be that if you did not have a garage, your vehicles had to sit on the road out in the elements throughout the year.
However, there are now portable shelters that can double as auto shelters. In addition, even if you do have a garage, you can use a portable canopy to keep vehicles protected.
There are a lot of models out there to choose from, and there are some things you need to consider before you buy.
As you have seen, there are several different styles of car canopy tents to choose from. There are a few things that you can take into consideration when trying to decide from among them.
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It is pretty obvious that you need to make sure that you buy a tent that is big enough for your vehicle to fit under. You also want to make sure that there is enough room on either side to be able to open doors, at least enough to move in and out of the vehicle comfortably (without having to squeeze).
What many people do not think about, however, is unintentionally buying a tent that is TOO big for their vehicle. If you have a smaller sedan, but buy a portable car canopy that can fit an SUV, you are leaving an awful lot of room for the elements to get to your vehicle. Wind and snow will be able to blow right in.
Is the garage canopy going to be in front of an actual garage? You will want to consider one that is open or has adjustable flaps so you can enter from any side (depending on the layout of your driveway). Is it going to be off to the side of the house or in the backyard?
You could probably find a car canopy for any one of those locations. But remember, you are looking for something portable, so you are probably planning on moving it. Think about the spaces around your house where you may want to put the canopy.
Again, this is not just about the amount of space for width and length that you will need, but the height as well. Be sure that you take roof lines, gutters, and downspouts into consideration.
As mentioned in the previous section, your location might determine the features in your preferred car canopy. However, if you are fortunate enough to have multiple spaces where you could install your temporary garage, you then need to figure out if you want one that is enclosed on three sides, with the option of closing the fourth, or one that is just a canopy (covering the top only).
Do you want one with a flatter top or one that has more of a peak? This could be important if you plan on using it throughout the year and you happen to live in an area that gets a lot of snow or rain. A flat top will just hold water, and the weight of snow could make it collapse. A peaked top will allow for runoff.
If you plan on using it throughout the year, you may want to consider one that has flaps that roll up and down as needed. This may be beneficial for protection against wind when necessary, but also to increase air flow in warmer months.
Anchoring the Shelter
This actually goes hand in hand with “Location.” You should have a clear idea of what kind of ground you are going to be putting the portable garage shelter on, especially if you are going to be moving it. If it will only be on cement or gravel, you will need to get weights to ensure that it remains firmly on the ground.
If you have softer ground under the gravel, or will be putting it on a lawn, you may want to consider a type that has stakes (not unlike tents) that will anchor the legs to the ground. If you will be putting it on both types, make sure that the legs are versatile so that you can secure it a number of ways.
Regardless of how you are going to secure your shelter, make sure that you have enough anchors to fully secure it. General practice is to have at least one anchor for each rib of the shelter. This will provide stability and balance, keeping the shelter firmly planted at multiple points.
No matter where you live, this should be an important factor in your decision making. We already mentioned snow and rain (in terms of the shape of the structure), but you should also consider the type of material the portable car cover is made out of, as well as any extra features (such as antifungal agents).
If you live in an area that gets heavy snow and/or wind, look for a tent made of materials that are designed specifically withstanding the elements. Some even come with wind and snow load ratings. If you are putting your shelter where it gets direct sunlight (i.e., no tree shade) check to see if the material is UV rated. It will protect your car (and you, when you work on the car) from the sun’s rays.
If you are in a coastal area, prolonged exposure to salt air could rust or further corrode the metal legs of a canopy, so you may want to consider one that is specially coated (usually vinyl coating) to better withstand salt exposure. A cover with anti-fungal treatment should be a priority in areas that have high humidity.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is the difference between a canopy, a tent, or a portable garage?
Answer: Honestly, not a whole lot; they are all ways of referring to the same thing. That is why you may have noticed that we have used those words pretty interchangeably throughout the review.
Generally speaking, however, a canopy usually only has a top, while a tent will probably have sides. Both can be used as portable garages or carports.
Question: Can I use my portable canopy for multiple cars?
Answer: Yes. Whether it is for storing vehicles to protect them from the elements or for use as an actual outdoor garage, you can store as many as you can safely fit under the canopy. Be sure to use the guides above to gauge how big of a canopy you may need, however, so you do not run out of space.
Question: Are there other uses for a portable garage?
Answer: Absolutely! You can use it for many things other than just a garage. It could be a deck or patio cover, or used as shade over a kid’s play area. Some of the bigger ones have enough spaces for workbenches or other larger supplies. You could park your vehicles in your actual garage and use the portable garage as your workspace, clearing areas inside for freer movement.