Are Inflatable Garages and Carports Worth Your Money?
If you aren’t lucky enough to have ample car parking or storage space in your home, you aren’t alone. Unfortunately, building a garage can be a pretty expensive feat. So an inflatable garage or carport may be the perfect solution.
Inflatable garages and carports are a highly functional alternative to garages and storage space for extra machinery. But the biggest question is, are they worth it?
The worthiness of inflatable carports depends on what you’re using them for. Inflatable outdoor garages protect vehicles and machinery from outside elements, and they are more cost-effective than a permanent garage, easy to put up, and conveniently portable.
It also doesn’t require complex permitting procedures. Moreover, Inflatable garages are versatile for outdoor enthusiasts as they can keep your vehicles clean and double as a camping space for a relatively low price.
However, they do not offer that much protection against the elements such as heavy snow, strong winds, hail, and burglary. So let’s dive into more details about inflatable garages and carports, their pros and cons, and maintenance tips to help you confidently decide.
What is an inflatable carport?
Inflatable carports, also known as inflatable garages or pop-up garages, are temporary outdoor structures that you can set up quickly on almost any terrain to provide shelter for your vehicle. They protect your vehicle or bike from snow, rain, direct sun, dirt, and dust. Unfortunately, inflatable garages and carports are quite pricey, making people wonder if they are worth it.
Typically, carports are made of aluminum, steel, or tin for structural integrity. Other carports are made from a plastic tarp, while others have a waterproof fabric cover.
Comparatively, inflatable carports and garages are made of professional 210D 0.4 oxford cloth for structure and PVC for transparent features like windows. These materials make the structure waterproof, flame-resistant, anti-UV, and durable.
These inflatable carports also provide high-powered blowers for quick inflation and sufficient ventilation. Thankfully, they come in different sizes, and some are large and spacious enough to accommodate more than one car or mechanical work and can cost anywhere from $500- to $1,200+.
In addition, some inflatable carports have a cloth floor to keep debris and contaminants away.
How do inflatable carports and garages work?
The main purpose of an inflatable carport is to provide shelter and storage space for your vehicle or bulky equipment. Inflatable outdoor garages are easily portable and are multi-purpose storage solutions.
The setup procedure varies with the brand, but typically, you will use the provided air pump to inflate it. Once inflated, it can maintain the inflatable shape for many days without inflating it all the time. Below are inflatable garage features that will help you understand how they work.
Inflatable carports have durable material that, although contributing to their high cost, ensures the structure has maximum stability and safety compared to low-grade standard carports.
The 210D oxford fabric is moisture repellent, resistant to rips and tears, sturdy, breathable, and withstands the elements. This fabric also ensures the carport is lightweight and easy to inflate, deflate and transport.
The 0.4mm PVC is a transparent material that allows adequate sunlight into the structure for optimal lighting. It is also waterproof, weatherproof, fire-resistant, and anti-UV, protecting your vehicle’s paint from sun damage.
If you want an inflatable garage for mechanical work, the filtration system will come in handy to prevent the accumulation of toxic air in the workspace. The filtration system has high-powered blowers and filter cotton window that continuously blows clean air into the structure and takes out air pollutants.
The filtration system makes it ideal for mechanical work and light spray painting jobs.
Inflatable carports have a double-sided zipper for easy passage on both sides. The zipper also has fine lines and seams to prevent air leakage and keeps contaminants out of the structure. Additionally, the zippers are essential for air retention.
Can you use an inflatable garage long-term?
There are a few factors to consider if you want to put up your inflatable garage long-term, such as legalities on temporary structures, the durability of your inflatable garage, and weather conditions.
Before investing in an inflatable garage, it’s essential to know that states have different laws regarding temporary buildings. In most states in the US, it is legal to set up an inflatable carport on your property since it’s a temporary building. However, you need to consult with your local planning and zoning office to find the legislation for temporary buildings for your area.
So although the material that makes inflatable carports is highly durable and weatherproof, environmental conditions can damage the fabric over time and reduce its efficiency.
For example, prolonged exposure to temperature variation will cause the air inside the structure to contract and expand, causing the fabric to deflate and expand. Over time, this will cause the fabric to weaken, making the garage inefficient.
Read the product’s documentation, and if the manufacturer claims their inflatable carport can be used for long periods in the weather in your area, you can use yours for an undefined period.
How to take care of your inflatable garage and elongate its lifespan
Inflatable garages are highly durable, but they also require proper maintenance to improve their lifespan. Note that different brands may have different care techniques, so go through the manual to know any brand-specific maintenance tips. Still, the following are the general maintenance guidelines for inflatable garages.
- Use non-abrasive soap and water to clean the PVC to avoid eroding the material.
- Avoid contact between hot vehicle exhaust and the PVC parts.
- If you’re using your inflatable garage around sea or ocean air, it is best to wash it regularly.
- Avoid installing your inflatable carport in high winds, even with stable anchoring systems.
- Disassemble the carport in winds up to 15 MPH.
- Avoid installing the inflatable garage around pebbles, branches, and other sharp objects.
- Do not pack your inflatable garage wet. Mildew and mold will grow on the fabric, which can damage it.
- If your inflatable garage has a filter system, wash it every six months for good air quality.
Pros and cons of inflatable car garages and carports
Below are the pros and cons of inflatable garages and carports.
- Inflatable carports are easy to install and take down.
- They are portable and can easily fit in the trunk of a car.
- They occupy minimal space when deflated, making them easy to store.
- They protect vehicles and other machinery from sun exposure, strong winds, snow, frost, rain, and small hail.
- Inflatable carports are versatile, and you could use them for various purposes, such as while camping or having picnics.
- Most inflation garages have ventilation systems that ensure airflow and prevent high humidity from protecting your vehicle or equipment, especially the metallic parts.
- They are a cheaper alternative to building a permanent garage.
- Inflatable garages are easy to break into, so they are not secure from theft.
- They are vulnerable to pressure variations; thus, you will have to inflate them further every once in a while.
- In hot temperatures, the air inside the inflatable garage becomes extremely warm and expands.
- They cannot withstand strong winds.
- Hail and heavy snow can damage the fabric or weigh it down.
Do I need local authority approval to set up an inflatable car garage or carport?
Generally, temporary inflatable carports do not require a local authority permit since most jurisdictions don’t consider their permanent structures. However, states, cities, and towns have zoning laws that regulate the size and placement of all structures in the area, including inflatable or portable carports.
So it’s difficult to know if you need local authority approval for an inflatable garage. But to be on the safe side, you should contact your local authorities for advice to avoid violating regional zoning laws. Here are some general regional laws on setting up an inflatable carport.
The general rule in America is that an inflatable carport is a permanent structure only if it is immovable or has a secured foundation in a non-temporary fashion such as concrete. Zoning laws will define if an object is a permanent structure that can differ from state to state and sometimes city to city.
As a standard, detached accessory structures, including inflatable garages, must be a minimum of five feet from the rear or alley or property line. Your inflatable garage may require a permit. It’s important to contact the local authorities to know if a permit is required as building codes vary among states and cities. For instance:
- The city of Middletown, New York, doesn’t permit inflatable or portable garages and carports in residential neighborhoods
- The Municipal Code of Concord, New Hampshire, doesn’t allow inflatable carports on the driveway or front yard. You can only set them up in an enclosed backyard so long as they are at least five feet from the property line. Local authorities claim inflatable carports are not structurally sound, creating a potential safety hazard.
Inflatable or portable carports are considered temporary structures. Therefore, you will not need a permit to set up an inflatable garage, but you must abide by certain rules.
- Local authorities allow residents to erect inflatable carports at their homes for only three days, with a four-day extension allowed with city permission.
- The inflatable garage should be for domestic purposes only.
- The structure needs to be within your property.
- It also needs to have a maximum height of four meters.
- They must withstand winds of 90 mph.
A building permit is not required to put up temporary structures such as inflatable garages and carports. However, the placement of the structures must comply with the local zoning by-laws.
You need to contact the local Planning Division to inquire about zoning restrictions in your area. You will need a building permit in Toronto if your inflatable carport is an accessory to an existing house.
It’s important to note that inflatable garages cannot handle the elements of the Canadian climate.
It’s best to assume your inflatable garage tent will require a permit since most states require one. In contrast, most councils and states in Australia don’t require a permit if it is less than 10 square meters. Check with your local council on the regulations and restrictions of setting up an inflatable garage.
- In New South Wales, an inflated carport doesn’t need a permit if it meets the specific development standards in the policy.
- However, a portable garage in foreshore areas will need a permit.
- An inflatable carport doesn’t need a permit in Victoria as its material is not masonry.
Rules and regulations differ considerably between states and local councils, and they also change over time. So the above information should be treated as a guide only. Your responsibility is to check local regulations and seek council approvals necessary in the area.
It’s clear from the article above that inflatable carports and garages offer many advantages compared to permanent garage structures. To decide if an inflatable garage is worth buying, you must compare the cost and benefits.
As long as you use your inflatable correctly, you will get the most out of it. With minimal investment, it can protect its content from the elements while also being portable and easy to set up.