RVing is a way of life for many people. But no matter how much you love your recreational vehicle, you’ll probably need to find a place to store it during the off-season.
Unless you’re planning on passing the winter months in a campground in a warm state like Florida or Arizona, you’ll need to put your RV into storage to protect it during the winter. Some of the best self-storage companies can accommodate RVs, but there are some alternatives you might want to explore.
By understanding your storage options and some RV storage best practices, you can keep your camper in good condition while it’s not in use.
RV storage options
There are a variety of RV storage solutions you could use to store your RV during the winter (or other times when you won’t be using it for a while). Your budget, available space, and what is allowed by your local HOA will largely determine which storage options are available to you.
Your driveway or backyard
Some people are able to store their RV in their driveway or the backyard. However, this option is generally limited to households with extra-wide driveways or larger backyards. Trying to park your RV in a standard driveway could block access to your garage!
Driveway or backyard parking won’t cost you anything extra, and you’ll have the convenience of your RV being readily available. However, many HOAs don’t allow RV parking. In addition, parking your RV outside will leave it exposed to the elements. Inadequate security could also leave your RV vulnerable to vandalism or theft.
Constructing an RV garage provides a conveniently located enclosed space to store your RV. RV garages are common on custom homes, or a separate RV garage could be constructed in your backyard. Indoor storage greatly reduces the risk of theft, vandalism, or weather-related damage.
However, similar to driveway or backyard storage, building an RV garage isn’t realistic for every homeowner. Constructing a new RV garage can be very expensive. In addition, your property may not have enough space to fit an additional garage. And once again, HOA and zoning requirements could prohibit you from being able to build an RV garage.
Outdoor storage facility
Many self-storage facilities and RV parks offer a variety of outdoor RV storage options, ranging from outdoor parking spaces to covered parking areas. These facilities are designed to fit motorhomes of all sizes, and at a lower cost than an indoor storage facility. Self-storage facilities also feature additional security measures you won’t have at home, such as video surveillance and gate access codes.
However, outdoor RV storage will still leave your vehicle exposed to the elements. An outdoor parking space doesn’t provide any kind of weather protection. And while covered parking will provide some shade, it won’t necessarily guard against extreme temperatures and humidity.
Indoor storage facility
Indoor RV storage provides the ultimate protection for your vehicle, particularly for long-term and winter storage. Some facilities even have climate-controlled storage. Indoor facilities offer the best possible security, while also reducing the risk of rodents and insects getting inside the RV.
The main drawback of indoor storage is the cost, which can be much higher than other storage options. In addition, indoor vehicle storage options at some facilities may not provide sufficient space to fit larger RVs. However, some major storage companies — including Simply Self Storage and Extra Space Storage — have a wide variety of storage options that can accommodate larger vehicles like RVs.
8 tips for RV storage
Before you put your RV into storage for the winter, there are some essential RV maintenance tasks you’ll need to take care of. The following RV storage tips will help ensure that your RV is still in good shape when you’re ready to go RVing again.
1. Remove food
Taking preventative measures to keep critters out should be a top priority during RV storage — and that starts by removing all food from your RV. Food items in your pantry and fridge don’t just have the potential to attract rodents and insects. Decaying food could also result in unpleasant odors and mold growth.
Go through your entire RV and remove all food before putting your RV in storage. Be sure to check all of your cabinets so you don’t miss anything!
2. Protect your tires
Extended storage can leave your tires in rough shape. If storing your RV outside, exposure to UV rays can cause significant deterioration of your tires, and even increase the risk of a flat or blowout. Use tire covers to prevent sun exposure.
If possible, consider placing your RV on levering blocks while it is in storage. This will reduce how much weight the tires need to support, which can help extend their lifespan and prevent storage-related damage.
3. Drain (and add) fluids
Leaving water inside your RV’s water tanks during the winter could cause the water to freeze, which could lead to cracked or burst pipes. Because of this, you must completely drain your water system, including all water in your water heater and other plumbing system components. You’ll add fresh water when you take your RV out of storage in the spring.
At the same time, you’ll also need to add some fluids to your RV. Add antifreeze to your radiator, waste tanks, and piping to keep any remaining water from freezing. Add fuel stabilizer to your fuel tank and then run the engine so it can circulate through the system.
Finally, get an oil change, as dirty oil could degrade the oil tank while your RV is in storage.
4. Cover your RV
Covering your RV to protect it from the elements is one of the most important things you can do to prevent both exterior and interior problems. The best solution is to use enclosed storage, such as your own RV garage or an indoor storage facility. Such facilities offer comprehensive protection against inclement weather, as well as an extra barrier against rodents and other pests.
If indoor storage isn’t an option, protect your vehicle with an RV cover. A cover will provide an extra layer of protection against snow, UV rays, and other hazards to protect the RV’s vinyl, fiberglass, and other exterior materials.
5. Prevent moisture buildup
If storing your RV in a humid area, you will need to take additional steps to prevent moisture buildup, which could contribute to mold and mildew growth. Installing roof vents will promote additional airflow to prevent excess moisture buildup inside your RV.
Periodically running a dehumidifier or hanging moisture-absorbing gel packs inside the RV can also keep humidity levels down.
6. Disconnect the battery
RV batteries can still drain when your RV is in storage. Microwave clocks, stereo systems, and other components will continue to draw power from the battery, and the cold weather can also accelerate the power drain. Your battery could be completely dead by the time you try to start your RV in the spring!
Because of this, it is recommended that you remove or disconnect the battery before putting it in storage. Use a battery charger to ensure it is fully charged before you reconnect it in the spring.
7. Clean the interior and exterior
Thoroughly cleaning the interior and exterior of your RV will keep it looking great and protected from the elements. Inside, defrost the fridge and freezer and spray them with a diluted bleach solution. Wipe down all other surfaces (including the inside of cabinets) to remove crumbs, dust, and more.
Washing and waxing your RV’s exterior will provide an extra layer of protection against the elements — an absolute must if you’ll be storing it outside. Make sure the RV is fully dry before putting it under a cover or in enclosed storage.
8. Seal off areas where animals could get inside
Even when you remove food and water, animals may still try to get inside the RV in search of shelter and warmth. Start by sealing off potential entry points. Cover firewalls and seal up any access holes around tubes or hoses. Make sure exterior vents are covered, and use steel wool to block any access points on the underside of the RV.
You can also keep rodents away with moth balls or cotton balls soaked in essential oils, while Borax will drive away insects. Come springtime, you’ll need to remove all of these items, but your RV should be pest-free.
RV storage costs
RV storage costs are often in line with the cost of renting a larger storage unit, with average prices ranging from $120 to nearly $170 per month. Of course, as with storage units, the cost you’ll pay for RV storage can vary significantly.
RV storage cost factors
There are several factors that can influence how much an RV storage facility charges you:
- The size of your RV: Class A motorhomes, Class B, and Class C RVs all require different storage unit or parking spot sizes. The larger your RV, the more you’ll need to pay.
- The type of storage: There’s a big difference between uncovered outdoor storage and an enclosed climate-controlled facility. Generally, the more protection a storage location provides against the elements, the more expensive it will be.
- Location: RV storage prices can vary by location. For example, some cities generally have fewer RV storage facilities available. Others experience higher demand for RV storage throughout the year. Pricing will typically vary based on availability for your area.
- Seasonal demand: There tends to be greater demand for RV storage during the winter — and as a result, prices will usually be higher at this time of year.
Finding the best RV storage
Finding the best RV storage lot for your needs will provide much-needed peace of mind as you put it away for the winter.
The following are some key considerations that can help you find a facility that meets your storage needs:
- Security: RVs contain many valuables, which is why choosing a facility with strong security is an absolute must. Features such as video surveillance, gated access, and onsite security or management will help keep your RV safe.
- Access hours: Depending on your storage setup, you might need to access your RV periodically while it is in storage (such as to run a dehumidifier or to check its condition). Make sure your facility has access hours that work for your schedule.
- Location: Getting to your RV storage facility shouldn’t be a hassle. Consider how far the facility is from home or work for when you need to access it.
- The right type of storage for your needs: Always confirm that the storage facility has a space that is large enough for your RV. You should also confirm the type of storage they offer (open, covered, or enclosed) to get the level of protection you want.
The best RV storage companies
Based on our research, the following are some of the best RV storage companies with wide availability across the country.
Public Storage has nearly 3,000 locations in 41 states and Washington, D.C. Many locations offer open and covered parking spots for larger RVs, while smaller RVs can be stored in select ground-level storage units.
Extra Space Storage
Extra Space Storage offers indoor, covered, and outdoor RV and car storage (including for pop-up and fifth-wheel trailers) at many of its locations in 43 states and Washington, D.C. Extra Space Storage is well-known for its strong security standards, including 24-hour video surveillance, onsite managers, and coded access entry gates.
89% of users select this mover
U-Haul offers more than just nationwide moving services, with RV and boat storage making them a great option for RVers. U-Haul has open, covered, and enclosed RV storage with wide aisles for easy maneuverability. Some locations also offer dump stations and electrical outlets to further streamline the process of storing your RV.
FAQs about how to store an RV
Is it OK to store your RV outside?
While you can store your RV outside, this generally isn’t recommended for long-term storage. Exposure to the elements can cause sun damage, mold, leaks, and other problems. If you need to store your RV outside, use an RV cover and tire covers to provide an extra layer of protection.
How do I store my RV in the summer?
The biggest risks for storing an RV in the summer are high temperatures and humidity. If you can’t store your RV in a climate-controlled environment, open windows and rooftop vents and use fans to improve airflow. Periodically running a dehumidifier or using moisture-absorbing gel packs can also prevent moisture buildup.
What is the best way to store an RV?
RV owners should try to store their motorhomes and travel trailers in a climate-controlled indoor facility whenever possible. Indoor storage offers better security and protection from pests, while also limiting exposure to UV rays, snow, rain, and other environmental hazards.
What is the cost of renting an RV storage space?
RV storage costs vary based on the size of your RV, whether you choose indoor or outdoor storage, your location, and storage availability. On average, expect to pay between $120 and $170 per month for RV storage.
What are the benefits of storing an RV?
Short-term storage at an RV storage facility provides a convenient, secure location for those times when you won’t be taking your RV out on the road. This can be especially helpful when you don’t have sufficient space on your own property for RV storage. Many facilities offer month-to-month contracts, providing the flexibility you need for planning future trips.
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