Carport Pergola Renderings

99sport

Well-known member
Definitely check out your local lumber yard and see what they have in stock and what they can order. My local lumber yard had VASTLY better quality, selection, and prices than Home Depot. Home Depot does beat them on price (but not quality) for stuff that gets used a lot (2x4s and 14/2 wire), but I've found for larger lumber the lumber yard has better prices (and the electrical supply store beats them on large-gauge wire prices).

In So Cal, and I presume Nor Cal, the lumber is sold wet (this may be different in the southern US where the high humidity could take years for the lumber to dry outside). My best tip, and what I did, is buy 2X every piece of lumber you need. Store it flat on the floor in the garage, stacked up to keep weight on it, but with air spaces on the sides for a month, until the lumber dries out (you can also buy a moisture meter to check). Return the pieces that have warped and twisted and use the half that are still straight. You can also get a sense when you pick the lumber out - the stuff in the middle of the pile weighs far more than the pieces on the edges and will take longer to dry. If you are building a house, nailing everything together will tend to keep the lumber straight while it dries, but in a pergola there are probably not enough constraints to prevent warping and twisting while the lumber dries out.

I went with number 1 and above Douglas Fir. My lumber yard had a complete selection Redwood and Ceder in all the same sizes, but Cedar was 3X the price. After I built my pavilion, I wished I had used Cedar. The total lumber cost for my project in Doug Fir was $500, and I should have spent the $1500 for Cedar. (I think the Cedar may have been kiln dried as well - eliminating the need to pre-dry the lumber in the garage.)

Definitely use 6x6 for the posts, regardless of structural needs as it looks "right." Most of the time 4x4 is structurally adequate, but at 13' buckling is a concern and 4x4 might not be adequate, but 6x6 is plenty.

My project was a little different (not a carport), but the construction technique is the same.
 

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marklg

Well-known member
Nice! I may end up putting a screen like that on one side that's south facing if necessary. There is a fence and some trees there already, so we'll see. My slab is actually 50' long, so I can park the van in front of the pergola if necessary as well.
That would be good. I have solar panels on the roof, and obviously they don't work under the cover. I can back it out to the gravel driveway between the street and the gate to check them out.

I know you plan to build this yourself out of wood, but mine was designed by Fox Engineering in Downey, CA. I believe they are still in business. Last email was foxeng@hotmail.com. They were going to redesign the roof so it could be covered with solar panels for my home. The existing steel supports would hold the weight. Unfortunately, the local power company reduced what they pay for net metering, so the project no longer would pay back. In your locale it may be an option. If not you, maybe someone else may be interested.

Regards,

Mark
 

vanski

'05 Snow Camper, '17 170 4x4, Adventure Vissionary
Personally I’d be worried about birds perching on the pergola and pooping all over my rig. Not that it’s much worse than the 30’ Ca valley oak my rig sits under now... just a thought
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
Definitely check out your local lumber yard and see what they have in stock and what they can order. My local lumber yard had VASTLY better quality, selection, and prices than Home Depot. Home Depot does beat them on price (but not quality) for stuff that gets used a lot (2x4s and 14/2 wire), but I've found for larger lumber the lumber yard has better prices (and the electrical supply store beats them on large-gauge wire prices).

In So Cal, and I presume Nor Cal, the lumber is sold wet (this may be different in the southern US where the high humidity could take years for the lumber to dry outside). My best tip, and what I did, is buy 2X every piece of lumber you need. Store it flat on the floor in the garage, stacked up to keep weight on it, but with air spaces on the sides for a month, until the lumber dries out (you can also buy a moisture meter to check). Return the pieces that have warped and twisted and use the half that are still straight. You can also get a sense when you pick the lumber out - the stuff in the middle of the pile weighs far more than the pieces on the edges and will take longer to dry. If you are building a house, nailing everything together will tend to keep the lumber straight while it dries, but in a pergola there are probably not enough constraints to prevent warping and twisting while the lumber dries out.

I went with number 1 and above Douglas Fir. My lumber yard had a complete selection Redwood and Ceder in all the same sizes, but Cedar was 3X the price. After I built my pavilion, I wished I had used Cedar. The total lumber cost for my project in Doug Fir was $500, and I should have spent the $1500 for Cedar. (I think the Cedar may have been kiln dried as well - eliminating the need to pre-dry the lumber in the garage.)

Definitely use 6x6 for the posts, regardless of structural needs as it looks "right." Most of the time 4x4 is structurally adequate, but at 13' buckling is a concern and 4x4 might not be adequate, but 6x6 is plenty.

My project was a little different (not a carport), but the construction technique is the same.
Thanks, great advice. Looks like some fine work there.
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
That would be good. I have solar panels on the roof, and obviously they don't work under the cover. I can back it out to the gravel driveway between the street and the gate to check them out.

I know you plan to build this yourself out of wood, but mine was designed by Fox Engineering in Downey, CA. I believe they are still in business. Last email was foxeng@hotmail.com. They were going to redesign the roof so it could be covered with solar panels for my home. The existing steel supports would hold the weight. Unfortunately, the local power company reduced what they pay for net metering, so the project no longer would pay back. In your locale it may be an option. If not you, maybe someone else may be interested.

Regards,

Mark
Yeah, I want the wood as it will match a pergola in my backyard. I had also considered a Versatube RV port, but discarded that because of the styling and also the expense.

We had solar on our home roof for the past few years and love it. But PG&E is crediting us at $.50/KWH and we're on track for a 5 year ROI. Incredible. I'm surprised the state allows electric companies to screw you like that. You can get around that by buying a Tesla powerwall and not have to buy any more electricity from them.
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
Personally I’d be worried about birds perching on the pergola and pooping all over my rig. Not that it’s much worse than the 30’ Ca valley oak my rig sits under now... just a thought
Ick. I've decided put lattice on top with the sunscreen material on top of that. So poopage should be pretty minimal and that should also keep off leaves and debris from the trees. Not as good as a solid roof though.
 

Mike DZ

2016 View 24V (2015 3500)
One suggestion - add 2 more pairs of crossmembers half way between the middle and end ones. This way the unsupported top members span is reduced from around 8 feet to around 4 feet. I know you are not carrying a lot of weight on top, but the mid crossmembers can reduce top member twisting and sagging - this is all assuming you are building the 50 year pergola vice the 10 year pergola.
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
One suggestion - add 2 more pairs of crossmembers half way between the middle and end ones. This way the unsupported top members span is reduced from around 8 feet to around 4 feet. I know you are not carrying a lot of weight on top, but the mid crossmembers can reduce top member twisting and sagging - this is all assuming you are building the 50 year pergola vice the 10 year pergola.
Thanks, I think you're right about that.
 

marklg

Well-known member
Yeah, I want the wood as it will match a pergola in my backyard. I had also considered a Versatube RV port, but discarded that because of the styling and also the expense.

We had solar on our home roof for the past few years and love it. But PG&E is crediting us at $.50/KWH and we're on track for a 5 year ROI. Incredible. I'm surprised the state allows electric companies to screw you like that. You can get around that by buying a Tesla powerwall and not have to buy any more electricity from them.
Not to go too far off topic, but the local utility is a semi governmental agency, with elected officials, but the voting is by the amount of land you own. So large landowners / corporate farms have their way.

They offer 2.8 cents per kWH back to you, although the charge for power from them is lower than you pay in CA. They claim that the large solar farms sell them power at 2.8 cents per kWH and they consider that to be what net metering is worth. They offered to go up to 5.6 cents for a couple years, then 4.2 then back to 2.8. So, it basically will never pay back.

We are in the AZ desert so we have big AC bills. Couldn't afford enough Powerwalls to be free of the grid. And, they charge based on a peak usage, so you only have to have 30 minutes during the middle of the day when the sun is beating down to generate a huge charge.

On the camper, however, solar power a no brainer. I've got enough so we never have to run the engine or generator except for the AC. We pick up and go somewhere else if it gets too hot. We have screened, openable windows all around and a roof fan. That works pretty well to keep us comfortable.

I would put a sunscreen over it and on the south side, for shade and bird poop reduction. I do a lot of repairs and upgrades under my cover and it works out very well, even on the hottest days.

Regards,

Mark
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
Your drawings for the planned RV port are great. May we ask what software you are using to create them?
Thanks. I'm using Sketchup. This was my first real project with it and I intend to design my van interior with it next. It's pretty popular, but definitely has a learning curve which I guess all 3D CAD tools do. I'm still struggling with it. They have both on-line and a desktop version. I tried the on-line version and gave up on it. Now I'm using the 30-day free trial of the desktop version which works much better for me. Although it's a $300/year subscription if you want to use it after the trial runs out. :wtf:
 

marklg

Well-known member
Thanks. I'm using Sketchup. This was my first real project with it and I intend to design my van interior with it next. It's pretty popular, but definitely has a learning curve which I guess all 3D CAD tools do. I'm still struggling with it. They have both on-line and a desktop version. I tried the on-line version and gave up on it. Now I'm using the 30-day free trial of the desktop version which works much better for me. Although it's a $300/year subscription if you want to use it after the trial runs out. :wtf:
I have the last "Sketchup make" version. I think from 2017. It still works. They really annoyed me when they went to the subscription model for something that used to be free and I won't pay. I expect they deliberately changed the file format so the 2017 version won't load what you did with the newer one, but not sure about that. I think you can still download the "make" version.

Regards,

Mark
 

VanGoSki

Well-known member
I have the last "Sketchup make" version. I think from 2017. It still works. They really annoyed me when they went to the subscription model for something that used to be free and I won't pay. I expect they deliberately changed the file format so the 2017 version won't load what you did with the newer one, but not sure about that. I think you can still download the "make" version.
Got it, thanks! And you're right; it won't load models made with the new version which isn't a big deal since I only have the one model of any significance. I will try it for future designs though. Sweet! :cheers:
 

RVBarry

Well-known member
Hi, I'm thinking of a similar, but wider, pergola for the Sprinter 170, and want to put 5-6KW of solar on it.

Dimensions would be at least 20x20', 11-12' high.
Any concerns with that much added weight? ~800lbs

We sometimes get 50-80mph winds here, but the backyard is somewhat sheltered by houses and trees.

Thanks
 

marklg

Well-known member
Hi, I'm thinking of a similar, but wider, pergola for the Sprinter 170, and want to put 5-6KW of solar on it.

Dimensions would be at least 20x20', 11-12' high.
Any concerns with that much added weight? ~800lbs

We sometimes get 50-80mph winds here, but the backyard is somewhat sheltered by houses and trees.

Thanks
You may want to ask a structural engineer. In fact, if it is home solar and you are in a town with building codes, I'm pretty sure they will require it. They are really strict with home solar. You can't do the work yourself unless you have Arc Fault certification, for example. Everything has to be signed off by a certified electrician and then the inspector will look at it. An incorrectly installed home solar system can send high voltage back down the lines when the power is off, endangering the linemen and linewomen working on the system. Solar panels are big and can go flying in the wind if not secured correctly. Those are the requirements for my town at least. The engineer that designed my carport was willing to work a design for adding solar panels. He has since retired and closed the business.

Regards,

Mark
 

3Play

Active member
B-grade solar panels are about $80 per 3x5, so that works out to less than $6 per sq. ft. for roofing material before the tax credit.
It would also keep the birds from targeting your roof....
If you are paying for roofing material for an awning, it might as well generate power..
If you push the panels together with foam tape spacers while assembling, the entire surface can be used for water catchment too...
 

RVBarry

Well-known member
You may want to ask a structural engineer. In fact, if it is home solar and you are in a town with building codes, I'm pretty sure they will require it. They are really strict with home solar.
Hi, I've talked to a couple solar contractors, and they told me to look for a 'solar ready' patio cover / pergola. Unfortunately, there aren't many vendors certifying for that.
Our roof only faces east/west, but the pergola will be on the south side of the house, which is why that's my preferred solar location.
I'd like to tilt it towards the sun, but that's another can of worms...

I know the inspectors are strict; my neighbor got solar installed this summer, and the city wouldn't give the final sign-off because the sticker fell off the electrical panel sometime in the last 30 years, and the inspector said they have no way of confirming the panel is big enough (200A required).
Which is absurd...
A. It's a tract of homes, all of which have the same panel and 250A cutoff breaker
B. The homes were built after the city was incorporated, so they should have records of what was installed.
C. All the homes had separate electric ovens and countertop stoves on separate breakers, plus A/C, dryer outlets, etc. Less than 200A would not have worked.
Etc.

My neighbor ended up getting a new panel; I'm not looking forward to that.
 

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