Guide to RV Storage Facilities

Got an RV, but no place to park it? Then welcome to the world of RV storage facilities. A storage facility can provide a safe haven for your RV when you come back from vacation. Think of it as a place your traveling home can call home, when you can't park it at home.

Many storage facilities cater to RVers and boaters alike and offer features like a dump station, wash area, and electricity. These extras make it easy to store the RV, and get it ready for your next outing.

Essentially you have three storage options: renting indoor or outdoor storage space, or purchasing a self-storage condominium. Facilities run the gamut from basic fenced gravel parking lots, to upscale climate controlled storage buildings with on-site security and video surveillance.

To help you decide on the best RV storage solution, I'll discuss important features to consider, indoor storage, outdoor storage, self-storage condos, RV insurance, and prepping the RV for storage.

Ok, now that the RV fun is over (for now), let's get down to business!

Important Features

Here are some helpful hints for evaluating an RV storage facility. By considering the location, ease of access, security, and extra features you'll be able to make the right choice for your motorhome, travel trailer, or 5th wheel.

Location

The distance to the RV storage facility shouldn't be too far from home if you'll be accessing it often. If you're the spontaneous type, keeping it close makes taking the impromptu vacation much easier.

Also consider the part of town it's in - is theft and vandalism going to be a problem? Rental rates will vary depending on the location, and are often higher in more densely populated areas.

Access

Some storage facilities offer 24 hour access, others have set hours. Some have a manager on-site to provide assistance. You'll want to evaluate the storage unit itself and consider how easy it will be getting the RV in and out of storage.

Security

How secure is the site? Is the fencing high enough to keep the bad guys out? Does a security guard check in often? Is there a surveillance camera, good overhead lighting, and an alarm system?

Some facilities may even have a manager or security guard living on-site. Other facilities may only have a fence for security. More security will cost more money, so you'll have to decide if it's worth it.

Extras

RV storage facilities will often have special features just for RVers. These may increase the cost of storage, so if your pinching pennies, you may want to look for a facility without them. However, these extras can save time and get you on the road to adventure as soon as you leave the storage facility. And when you return, these services also make it easier to prep the RV for storage.

  • RV Dump
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • RV Wash
  • Trash Service
  • Battery Charging

Indoor Vs. Outdoor Storage

Indoor Storage

Indoor RV storage is more expensive than outdoor storage...but consider the time and money you can save on maintenance by storing the RV indoors.

Advantages include:

  • No expensive RV cover or tire covers needed
  • Less washing to do
  • Deterioration and damage due to sun, wind, rain, hail, and ice is not an issue
  • Keeps most insects, birds, and rodents away
  • More secure than outdoor storage
  • If the facility is climate controlled, no winterization is needed
  • Savings on RV insurance 

RV storage buildings can be anything from simple shelters to luxury climate controlled facilities with services like RV washing, battery charging, valet parking, waste tank dumping, oil changes, and generator maintenance. Some facilities even include a separate alarm system dedicated to your storage space.

Indoor storage rates vary widely and can be anywhere from $50 to $450 a month.

Outdoor Storage

Outdoor RV storage is less pricey, but the downside is your RV will be exposed to the elements. And that means more wear and more maintenance. For protection against UV rays, rain, hail, and wind blown dust and debris, it's wise to invest in an RV cover.

The RV cover should...

  • not be too heavy, or it will be difficult to put on
  • fit snugly, so there is no flapping - otherwise the cover can abrade your finish
  • be breathable, to prevent mold and mildew

For more tips, see my article on RV covers.

Places that offer outdoor RV storage include dedicated storage yards, RV parks and campgrounds, and RV dealerships. Prices range from $20 to $300 a month depending on the location and services offered. These services can include a dump station, electricity, or a wash area.

You'll find both paved and gravel lots. Gravel lots are more attractive to wildlife like rodents and insects. To better repel rodents, plug any holes on your RV's underside with steel wool or aluminum plates.

Self-Storage Condominiums

Why rent, when you can own? It might make sense to purchase a self-storage condominium if you'll be needing long-term RV storage. You could save money in the long run, and sell the condo later, perhaps for a profit.

Self-storage condos cost anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000. Once you own it, you only pay a maintenance fee, which can range from $50 to $400 yearly. The storage unit can be subleased when you're not using it.

RV condos can be quite roomy...think big garages with giant access doors. Many facilities have heating and air-conditioning, 24 hour access, a dump station, and a wash area. Some even tout individual door alarms, a clubhouse, and resort like amenities.

RV Storage Insurance

Before putting the RV in storage, check with your insurance company to verify the RV will still be insured while parked away from your residence. Many storage facilities offer their own insurance, so you can compare rates too.

You'll often save money on insurance while the RV is stored as you won't need liability, collision, medical, or uninsured motorist coverage...so ask about this too. It's important to keep the comprehensive insurance for protection against theft, vandalism, fire, flood and storm damage. Comprehensive is also required if you're making payments on the RV.

Prepping the RV for Storage

The line "use it or lose it" applies to many things, RVs included. Unfortunately storing the RV can do more harm than using it, if the right preparations aren't made ahead of time.

The first place to start is your RV owner's manual and your onboard equipment manuals. There's usually a section on storage, which you'll need to read up on.

Here are 10 essential storage prep steps that apply to most all RVs.

  1. Store it Clean: Wash the exterior. Clean and dry the awning to minimize mold and mildew. Clean the refrigerator and leave the door ajar.
  2. Waterproofing: Avoid water damage by checking the seal around each window and each component on the roof and along the walls. Check the roof seams and seal any surface cracks too.
  3. Holding Tanks: Dump, flush, and clean the black and grey water holding tanks. Aftermarket water hose attachments that can be inserted into the toilet make cleaning the black water tank easier. Also drain the fresh water tank and the water lines.
  4. Water Heater Tank: Drain and flush the water heater tank. This removes corrosive particles that can eat away the tank.
  5. Propane Tank: Turn it off (that should be a no-brainer!)
  6. Exterior Vents: Cover exterior furnace vents and water heater vents with tape. This keeps wasp nests and insects out. Do the same for generator exhaust pipes. Blue painter's tape works well as it's easy to remove later.
  7. Tires: Check the tire pressure and add air if needed. If possible, place the RV on jack stands to avoid flat spots in the tires - or periodically move the RV during storage. Use tire covers and place a vapor barrier, such as a heavy piece of plastic, under each tire.
  8. Batteries: Disconnect and remove all batteries. Store fully charged in a cool, dry, and well ventilated area. For wet cell batteries, check the electrolyte level and fill if needed, then be sure to fully charge the battery afterwards. Lead acid batteries should be charged once a month while in storage.
  9. Power Down: Turn off all 120 volt breakers. Unplug all 120 volt AC devices such as the refrigerator, microwave, and TV. Remove dry cell batteries from clocks, smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, flashlights, and other devices.
  10. Motorhomes: Change the engine oil and filter. Check the strength of the radiator coolant to be sure it won't freeze in the climate where it will be stored. Top off the fuel tank and add a fuel stabilizer, if recommended by the engine manufacturer.

If storing the RV for the winter, additional winterization steps will be required.

Sleep Tight

Once you've properly tucked in your RV for the night, you can dream about where you'll be taking her next. Picking a good baby sitter will give you peace of mind, and knowing your RV is safe, you'll will be ready for the road, when the road calls next. Sweet dreams!

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