A Ceiling Hoist, yea or nay?


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A Ceiling Hoist for your Rooftop Tent, useful or not?

A Ceiling Hoist you say?

Wouldn’t it be awesome to drive your car into the garage after a nice couple of days away from it all and just lift the rooftop tent from your car and have it out of the way until the next trip?

Well, this is not a dream out of a science fiction movie but it is actually possible.

A rooftop tent hoist system offers an easy and practical solution for storing your rooftop tent when it’s not in use.

Depending on the load capacity of the roof above where the ceiling hoist is mounted, you can even store a fully loaded rooftop tent. Then, you’ll be ready to hit the road once you reattach your rooftop tent to your car.

If you do not have a ceiling hoist in your garage, taking your rooftop tent off your car and storing it can be quite a hassle. More often than not, it requires a lot of elbow grease and unwieldy manhandling.

Hoists not only keep your rooftop tent out of the way, but they also facilitate the dismounting process, as the rooftop tent goes directly from your car roof to your garage ceiling.

A high-quality rooftop tent can set you back a pretty penny, so it makes no sense to store it offhandedly on the floor. Not only will it take up unnecessary space, but it will also leave your rooftop tent vulnerable to dirt and scratches at best and mold, scarring, and pests at worst.

A high well-engineered quality ceiling hoist, if maintained properly, can last you a lifetime. It will give you peace of mind that your rooftop tent is secure and easy to access.

Conversely, a shoddy hoist can lead to frustration or even injury, as well as damage to your rooftop tent, car, or garage.

There are a lot of ceiling hoists out there to choose from. Deciding which one is right for you can be a daunting task. Luckily for you, we have put on our researcher hats and combed the internet for tips and tricks on rooftop tent hoists.

When approaching the task of finding the best rooftop tent hoist tips and tricks, we put ourselves in the mindset of the user. We are confident that every ceiling hoist tip and trick here is carefully researched.

Finding a Rooftop tent Hoist System that Works for You!

The rooftop tents of today are a far cry from the primitive, non-aerodynamic, clunky rooftop tents of yesteryear. They are true engineering marvels, made from the sturdiest and lightest materials out there.

A great rooftop tent can set you back a pretty penny. It would stand to reason, then, that you should take care of your investment.

Rooftop tents come in a huge variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. The one thing they all have in common is that they need to be stored somewhere when they are not in use. A hoist system is a smart way to go.

A hoist has two major functions. 

First, it facilitates the dismounting of your roof box without needing to use brute force.

Second, it stores your roof box safely out of the way.

Garage hoist systems are almost as varied in price and quality as the rooftop tents themselves.

The one you ultimately go for will depend on quite a few factors. These factors range from your budget and the size of your garage to the weight of your garage box and your physical strength.

Here is a checklist of questions you should answer before you start browsing the internet for a car roof box hoist.

What is the height of your garage?

If you already have a car roof box, chances are the height of your garage accommodates your car with the box installed on it. So a rooftop tent will not be a problem in your case.

Bear in mind, however, that this alone does not guarantee that you will have enough clearance once the hoist is installed.

If you have a tall vehicle, a large roof box, and a low ceiling, you might end up with an uncomfortably snug fit in your garage.

When calculating the clearance under a hoisted roof box, a rule of thumb is to factor in at least a foot of space to accommodate for the hoist and sag.

What is my garage ceiling made of?

All rooftop tent hoists are designed to be used in garages, but the layout and structure of your garage ceiling can limit your options. Your rooftop tent will be hung with a hoist that comes with 2 brackets. So the rooftop tent’s weight will be distributed over these brackets, in other words, each bracket will carry approximately half the total load of the load hanging underneath.

Each of the mounting points will have to carry approximately a quarter of the total load. So if your total load is 220 pounds and 20 pounds for the roof rack where the roof tent is mounted on, then each mounting point has to be able to withstand a load of (220 + 20) / 4 = 60 pounds each. This is if you mount in a concrete ceiling, a wooden beam will have to carry twice that or120 pounds.

If you’re not sure about how much load your ceiling can bear, ask an expert just to be sure.

There are workarounds to these types of problems, but they involve extra expenditure and structural upgrades of your garage. Hoists are held up by screws and anchors, and the type of screws and anchors depends on what you will be drilling into. A wooden beam and a concrete slab, for example, require quite different approaches when installing your hoist.

How much effort do you want to put into hoisting your roof box?

All rooftop tent hoists work on the same simple principle. They consist of ropes or straps and one or more pulleys. How the pulley system is activated determines the amount of physical effort needed to hoist the box from your car roof to your ceiling.

By hand, rooftop tent hoists can be operated by either ropes or cranks. Hoists that require you to pull on a rope require the most physical strength, which could be a factor if your rooftop tent is heavy or you want to hoist a rooftop tent full of heavy stuff like bedding etc.

Winch-operated hoists have cranks much like those on retractable awnings. They are somewhat easier to operate.

Electric hoists require no physical strength on your part in order to operate. An electric motor does the heavy lifting (without the use of a step-stool or hitch step bumper); you just have to press a button. All of this convenience comes at a cost, as electric hoists are far more expensive than manually operated ones.

How much does your Rooftop tent weigh?

Not all hoists are equal. All of them have a limit when it comes to the amount of weight they can safely take on.

When choosing a rooftop tent hoist, it is necessary to have a manufacturer weight for the rooftop tent to know how much you will really need to hoist. Don’t forget to add the weight of the roof rack where the rooftop tent is mounted on. An inexpensive lightweight hoist can do the job just fine if you are plan on using it for storing a small, empty rooftop tent; but you will need something beefier if you want to store your 4-person fully loaded rooftop tent.

Mounting gear on your rooftop tent? don’t forget to add that to the total load you want to hoist.

How thick is your Rooftop tent?

Rooftop tent’s thickness range from no thicker than a hefty suitcase to very thick ones that include a separate roof rack for ski or fishing gear there are hoist systems to accommodate all thicknesses of rooftop tents but the main thing is to look for the clearance you have in your garage.

Should I even bother to remove my Rooftop tent?

Although you can simply keep your rooftop tent installed on your car, there are a lot of advantages to storing your rooftop tent when it is not in active use. The most obvious drawback of not storing your rooftop tent is security. If you leave it onto your car for a prolonged period of time, you could leave yourself open to theft.

Leaving your car rooftop tent on could result in another, less obvious loss you could incur.

According to several studies, just driving with a rooftop tent can increase your average fuel consumption by up to 25% due to aerodynamic drag. The weight of the tent and its contents alone will make your car more fuel-hungry. That is because it is an additional weight that needs to be lugged around.

Lastly, it makes sense to take your car roof box off when not in use, as this will prolong its lifespan. Leaving it open to the elements on a regular basis can result in damage and wear, especially from rain, snow, and humidity.

Can anyone use or operated hoists?

The hoist systems are simple to use, but rope hoists do require more upper body strength than crank-operated ones. Using gloves when lowering or raising your roof box using a rope-operated hoist system can increase your comfort and make the process easier.

As with any system that has heavy moving parts, you should keep children away from the hoist, especially when you are using it.

Can I lift a rooftop tent alone or do I need help?

While you might need help from a friend to lift your rooftop tent onto your vehicle, hoisting it from your car roof is by and large a one-man job. You will not need any brute force.

However, you will need attention to detail to ensure safe and balanced lifting and lowering.

Every hoist has a locking mechanism that prevents your rooftop tent from lowering too fast or dropping if you suddenly let go of the rope or crank.

How do I prepare for an installation?

The first thing to be aware of is that you will, more likely than not, have to purchase your own hardware supplies to mount the hoist to the ceiling, as most kits do not come with all the necessary hardware to mount the hoist to the ceiling. To put it simply, there are a lot of different types of garage ceilings out there.

There is no universal set of screws and other installation hardware that works for all of them. The hoist does come however with all the hardware for the hoist itself.

In some cases, you will need to buy additional hardware, such as two-by-fours or other structural materials. For example, if your ceiling studs or beams are too far apart for optimal fitting, you will need to secure additional beams. It is best to double-check before purchasing. It won’t hurt to consult a construction professional.

Can I hoist a fully loaded RTT?

There are many situations where it makes sense not to unload your roof box every time you store it. For example, if you are an avid scuba diver you might want to keep all of your heavy equipment in your roof box between dives.

Every hoist has a maximum load weight that is provided by the manufacturer. However, you should always take this number with a grain of salt. Try to avoid pushing the maximum load weight in order to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.

Can I modify my hoist?

In most cases, once your hoist is installed, you will not need to make any modifications or upgrades. That being said, both the wheels and ropes are prone to damage from intensive use.

These parts are inexpensive and can be purchased from the original vendor. If you notice any wear on either your wheels or ropes, be sure to replace them on time to avoid failures.

Just get into the habit you do a checkup every year.

Can I install the Rooftop Tent system myself?

Great question, with a simple answer: it depends. It depends mainly on how experienced you are with basic construction and how stable your garage ceiling is. If you do not know how to install the hoist in a secure, stable, and safe way, it is best to call in the experts.

Conversely, if you are an old hand at DIY and construction projects around the house and have the right power tools, you will be able to install the hoist system yourself. All of the hoist systems come with comprehensive installation instructions and operating manuals, so there is no guesswork.

Have a look at how Kelly from TrailTacoma did it, he made a step-by-step installation including a video.

Even if you have the skills and tools for the job, if you are not 100% sure of the carrying capacity of your ceiling, it would be well worth getting a second opinion from a construction engineer.

Does the hoist system come with everything I need to install it?

Some hoist systems do come with installation hardware such as screws and anchors but bear in mind that these might not always be the best option. Your choice of screws, bolts, and anchors should be compatible with the material and sturdiness of your garage ceiling.

For example, a concrete ceiling requires completely different types of screws and anchors than a wooden ceiling beam. If you are not sure of what screws, bolts, and other paraphernalia you need to buy in order to install your hoist, check with your local hardware store.

How do I maintain my roof box hoist system?

If you use your hoist with the proper care, it should give you decades of reliable use. To ensure the longevity of your hoist system, it is highly advisable to inspect it thoroughly from time to time for signs of wear and material fatigue.

If you notice fraying or damage on your ropes and straps you should replace them immediately. You will more than likely be able to find inexpensive replacement parts in any well-equipped hardware store.

Apply a mechanical lubricant, like WD-40, to pulley wheels if you notice them snagging or squeaking. Last but not least, make sure that your roof box is dry and clean before transferring it onto your hoist.

Moisture, dirt, and grime can have an adverse effect on both your car roof box and hoist system. Wipe down your roof box after every use; a towel and some water and detergent should do the job.

Will my garage door get in the way of the hoist?

Depending on what door opening mechanism you have in your garage, it might or might not impede your ability to hoist your rooftop tent directly from your car roof. Side-hung doors will not get in the way of your hoist. Roller shutter doors won’t, either, but sectional and gravity doors might.

Does your garage door opens inwards and upwards toward the ceiling? It might get in the way of the hoist. Measure carefully and account for clearance heights to avoid nasty surprises once your hoist is installed. In some specific cases, you might have no other option than to hoist your rooftop tent from the floor as opposed to directly from your car roof. What type of hoist is the easiest to use on a frequent basis?

If you plan on using your hoist regularly, it makes sense to have an idea of how physically demanding this is going to be. Pulling a rope or turning a crank to hoist your storage box requires some upper body strength, and this could be a challenge for some users. When it comes to ease of use, electric hoists are the best.

They do not require any physical effort to operate, apart from pushing a button. Once you have attached your box to the electric hoist, the entire lifting process takes far less time than it would if you were using a manual hoist.

How low will my Rooftop Tent hang when lifted?

Apart from the dimensions and load weight of your hoist, another measurement that could be relevant is the height clearance. In other words, how low your RTT will hang from the ceiling once you have hoisted it as high as it will go.

This is a number that is not provided by manufacturers, mainly as it depends on the shape and size of your RTT and the equipment you mounted additionally on top of the RTT and of course the roof-rack itself where the RTT is mounted onto.

Stiffening the load-carrying straps with pool noodles or something similar will give you an extra inch or two of clearance.

Is the Rooftop Tent level while hoisting?

Some types of hoist systems automatically keep your rooftop tent level while hoisting and lowering, like electric hoists and most four-point hoist systems.

Credit: Marko Dosen @https://gearingout.com who inspired me enormously.