Storage 101: How to Choose the Best Lock for Your Self Storage Unit

One of the biggest concerns for any first-time self storage unit user is how safe their belongings are going to be over the long-term. The nature of self storage facilities is such that most people move their items in, lock them up and only access them as-needed or when it comes time to move once again. That means your possessions may be sitting, unchecked, for months at a time while you go about your regular business.

Although most self storage facility security systems are adequate (with fencing, video surveillance and keypad access), it is a good idea to invest in a good lock for your self storage unit. The peace of mind that comes with knowing your belongings are safe is worth any upfront investment.

How to Select a Storage Unit Lock

Every self storage unit is different, so be sure you know what kind of door and handle you will have access to. Many facilities recommend certain types of locks or can direct you to the best type for your needs. Although you can take their advice, be wary of buying these locks from the storage company, as you will most likely be able to find a better deal—and more durable lock—elsewhere.

Lock types vary in terms of security and cost. Consider the following options:

  • Cylinder Locks: Most people know cylinder locks as the type of lock found on a front door of a home. Flat and often round, the user inserts a key and turns it to move the bolt and gain entry. For self storage purposes, these locks do well, as they cannot be cut by bolt cutters—however, only certain sizes will fit, and changing the lock is fairly difficult if you do not have experience. These can vary in price anywhere from $10 to up to $100.
  • Disc Locks: Disc locks are built much like regular padlocks, but come in a round shape that makes them more difficult to break into. Because you can purchase these at most hardware stores, it is easy to find one that fits your storage facility door latches and that you feel comfortable with. Prices range from under $10 for the less secure ones to around $50 for the high-end disc locks.
  • Closed Shackle Padlock: Most people associate padlocks with the traditional u-shaped lock that can be purchased almost anywhere. While those are the cheapest storage facility lock you can buy, they tend to be the least secure. By opting for a closed shackle padlock, which provides a heavy-duty cover to the u-shaped portion of the lock, you can cut back on some of the risks.
  • One-Time Padlocks: If you intend to leave your items in storage for a long time and only need to get them back once, you may be able to opt for a one-time padlock. These locks are not the most secure option, as they are only opened by being cut (and can therefore be cut by anyone), but they tend to be low-cost and come with the additional advantage of ensuring that no one has been inside your storage unit while you were away.

Saving money by purchasing an inexpensive storage facility lock might seem like a good idea, but it is a good idea to first consider how valuable your items in storage are. Most storage facilities are more than secure enough on their own, but there is always the risk that your goods might be accessed while you are away. The right lock will put your mind at ease and allow you to feel good about your decision to store your personal effects for the short- or long-term.