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Feature: Roof Rack and Storage For Commercial Vehicles

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If you’re after handy storage solutions, why not step out of the van and consider a roof rack? If that isn’t for you, we cover some of the alternatives

Why limit your storage space to just the load area? Although many vans often now include extra-long stowage space underneath the passenger seat, roof rack storage should still be considered for long objects such as piping, ladders and planks.

It is important to consider the maximum weight a van called hold before investing in quality roof racking systems rather than hoping for the best. This results in roof damage and can potentially cause your vehicle to become unstable on the road.

Roof Racks

Having an unsafe load on your van’s roof can result in a fine, a licence endorsement and possibly a driving ban on conviction under the Road Traffic Act 1988, so using the appropriate storage methods and products can stop you from being hauled through the courts – and causing a road accident.

Once the total holdable weight for the roof has been established, a variety of different products can be used for extra storage. This includes Rhino Products’ KammBar, which have been made from anodised aluminium to keep them as light as possible without the risk of rusting. Despite being light, they can support up to 75kg per bar and come with two free pairs of load stops, which are essential as they assist in keeping items firmly in place.

Aerodynamics and Fuel Consumption

One of the major drawbacks of using the roof as a storage space using roof bars or racks is that it can alter the van’s aerodynamics, therefore resulting in a significant increase in both CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. This can be helped by removing the bars from their position when not in use rather than leaving them unused in position for a long period of time, as this can result in higher fuel bills.

Certain roof racks, including the KammBar, have been designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, which may help prevent these extra costs more-so. Look for light but durable materials when seeking a roof rack; while you may think bulkier roof racks are automatically bound to be more secure, this isn’t always the case and can be an unneeded cost.

Rhino Products also sell their Delta Bars. Made from alloyed steel, these bars are designed to be fuel efficient. They offer the all-important light yet strong material to assist in keeping the aerodynamics of your van strong, as well as reducing fuel consumption and minimise wind noise.

Leaving the bars locked into place when not in use can also increase the effects of general wear and tear, especially if left out in the rain. Again, checking the materials used in the roof racks themselves can save money, as some are significantly better when it comes to warding off rust and weather damage.

Unloading and re-loading roof storage can be a hassle, meaning getting the right security is essential if you plan to leave your items unattended. Ladders are a vital piece of equipment for many van owners, so ensure they are locked down by using ladder clamps on your roof rack.

Van Guard offer easy to use ladder clamps, which they describe as a safe and secure way of stowing ladders on your roof rack. The company sell these as a set of two that will fit the majority of roof racks. These clamps are manufactured with zinc plated steel, which is anti-corrosive – important for regular outdoor use – and are supplied with two padlocks in order to ensure full security for your ladder.

As well as ladder clamps, Van Guard offer their own built-to-last ULTI Racks. Made from specialised aluminium composite, which is 37% lighter than competitor racks yet robust according to their website. This rack features their Click & Lock mechanism to assist in fitting, made to make the process quicker and easier.

Other Options

If you’re looking for a discreet alternative to roof racks, various companies are now offering ladder racks that mount inside the load area rather than the roof. As well as selling conventional roof racks, Tevo supply internal ladder holders. This product can be positioned either directly above the van’s internal racking systems or along the centre of the roof; the difference is that this is done on the inside, rather than the outside like a traditional roof rack. The holder is equipped with a gas strut to assist with easy loading; the ladder itself is meant to be is hooked onto the front bracket, pushed back as far as possible, hooked onto the rear bracket before then being released.

While this option does take up valued cargo space and may restrict the length of the ladder you can take, it is a great alternative to the roof rack and ladder clamp combination in the way it protects ladders from being stolen. This system also means you don’t have to worry about rusting as much, as you can leave them inside the van most of the time.

Sub-Floor Solution

TruckEast has partnered up with German manufacturer Plastipol-Scheu, who provide professional racking systems. Their storage systems take ease of access and safety into account, making them a great alternative to roof racks.

This includes Plastipol’s sub-floor solution, which is ideal for those looking for storage but don’t want to reduce their load space or have no need for a roof rack. The sub-floor solutions integrate drawers under a false floor in the load area.

This storage system is most popular is small vans that have limited space, as it allows to keep space in the central loading area for more equipment or tools as required. It is designed from either side, rear or both entry specifically to store tools.

Plastipol’s Profi-Line range is made specifically for light duty commercial vehicles and ideal for tools. The range has a modular frame design that combines a number of optional drawers, trays and roller shutter systems for the internal cargo area.

Bott Smartvan’s van racking solutions are made to maximise usable load space in order to organise tools and equipment. They use existing van fitting points with their storage systems, meaning there is no need to drill holes in the van itself with only an estimated 1 – 2 hours for fitting.

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