A rooftop cargo box is an excellent accessory for your vehicle, but what do you do with it when you’re not using it? Cargo boxes are big and bulky, and storing one neatly can be quite a challenge. Having a big, empty cargo box sitting on the floor or a work surface in your garage is definitely a waste of space, and you don’t want to set it outdoors where it could be worn down by the elements or even stolen. Luckily, there are quite a few clever ways to store your cargo box safely and out of the way in your garage. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
Use Ceiling Lifters To Store Your Cargo Box
There are quite a few ready-made ceiling lift kits for cargo boxes. If you want to go this route, just check the website of the manufacturer of your cargo box and you’ll surely find a solution.
Otherwise, you can design and install your own DIY pulley system, very much like the sort you would use to hang a bicycle from your garage ceiling or rafters.
Incidentally, like a bicycle, a cargo box can also be hung from the wall using a ready made wall mount kit or simple J-hooks, which you can purchase at any home improvement center.
It’s worth noting that both ready made systems and DIY systems can be used to store a wide variety of items and equipment, such as canoes and kayaks, as well as cargo boxes. A good ceiling lift system essentially gives you approximately 15 square feet of extra storage space on the ceiling of your garage.
Begin With Accurate Measurements and Weights
No matter which type of cargo box storage system you choose, you’ll need to gather some information first. Make sure you know the height of your garage ceiling, as well as the height of your vehicle.
Ideally, you’ll want to be able to suspend your cargo box right over your vehicle for easy loading. You don’t want to hit the box with your vehicle when you park!
Low-Clearance Over-the-Garage Door Cargo Box Ceiling Storage
You should also be well aware of the weight of your cargo box. Ready made systems have weight bearing capacities ranging from 250 pounds to 1000 pounds. Make certain you choose or design a system that will accommodate the weight of the items you wish to suspend from your garage ceiling or rafters.
You’ll also want to make certain you have some good, sturdy joists or beams to anchor your lift system. Make sure those joists or beams are stong enough and in good enough condition to accommodate the weight of your cargo box.
If you have exposed rafters, this is a cinch. If you have an enclosed ceiling, you’ll need to use a stud finder to make absolutely certain you are anchoring your system into solid wood.
If you are not able to find joists in the right positions to accommodate the lift system, you can secure some sturdy boards in the right position to accommodate the system. This will give you a solid wood surface to drill into.
Installing a lift system for your cargo box is fairly easy. You’ll need to drill the right number of holes in the ceiling beams to accommodate the anchoring hardware, install hooks and pulleys and thread the cord or straps through.
Note that some ready made storage systems just consist of the lifting mechanism and cord or strap to hold the cargo box. Some others (e.g. Racor) include a bottom metal tray that both supports the cargo box and provides a little space to store odds and ends associated with your cargo box.
You’ll find that the Racor system is just as simple to install as any other brand, and costs just about the same amount, so if the idea of having a little added storage space appeals to you, look into this system.
TIP: No matter what kind of ceiling lift system you choose to install, you are always better off getting someone to help you. You’ll be spending a lot of time on a ladder, so having a helper to hand you things, pick up things that you drop and generally spot you in case of a fall is a smart idea.
Get A Smart Ceiling Lift System
To lift and lower your cargo box, you may just choose to pull hand-over-hand or install a crank, or you could get smart about it. As with just about everything else these days, it’s possible to get a ceiling lift system that you can operate with your Smartphone, as well as keeping tabs on the amount of weight the lift is supporting. There’s an app for that.
The Universal Lifter Motorized Garage Storage Hoist is such an item. This is an ideal solution for a very small, light weight cargo box, and it’s good for use with other items cluttering up your garage. This handy automatic lift is quick and easy to install, and there are step-by-step videos available to help you through installation.
The Garage Smart Motorized Lifter and the Garage Platform Lifter are two more examples of light duty ceiling lift systems that can be controlled using your Smartphone.
If you have a very big cargo box, you may want to look into the Bigbear Iron Heavy Duty Garage Storage lifter. It has the greatest load bearing capacity of any ready made ceiling lift system on the market. This system can suspend up to a thousand pounds safely. It also has adjustable length and height features.
Another heavy duty option is the Aelirou Heavy Duty Garage Storage Ceiling Rack. Like the Bigbear, it has a thousand pound weight bearing capacity, and length and height adjustment features.
It also delivers a bit more versatility because it is made up of a pair of overhead racks that can be reinforced with a sturdy plywood deck if needed to store items other than your cargo box (e.g. smaller boxes of loose items).
Garage Storage Protects Your Cargo Box And Extends Its Usefulness
You’d think that a sturdy, rugged cargo box, designed to ride miles and miles, in all kinds of weather on the roof of your car would be able to stand up to the elements outdoors. For short periods of time, it might be alright to set the box on its base in a sheltered area. Long term storage is a different matter.
Keep in mind that when the box is exposed to elements while secured to your car roof, those elements and the position of the box change.
If your cargo box sits outdoors, in one place for a long time, it will accrue wear and tear from constant, repeated sun exposure, battering from the prevailing winds, heat and cold extremes and pressure caused by its own weight.
That’s why it is always wise to store your cargo box in a cool, dry place that provides shelter from sun, as well as protection from extreme temperatures. Excessive heat, over an extended period of time could cause the box to warp. Excessive cold can cause brittleness and cracking.
Providing good, secure support will help prevent pressure damage caused by weight bearing. Additionally, when you secure your cargo box to the wall or ceiling, you won’t run the risk of having it fall, possibly causing damage to itself and its surroundings.