All about Self Storage Locks

Renting storage units is a convenient way to safeguard your belongings. However, most renters will leave a unit's contents unattended for long periods of time while they are working, moving or traveling. Most storage facilities have their own security (cameras and fencing), but this doesn't stop all kinds of theft, especially from storage company employees. To keep your belongings safe, it's critical to make an upfront investment in a high-quality storage unit lock.

Though many storage facilities require renters to provide their own locks, some allow customers to purchase locks in-office. Storage units differ in size and shape, so there are several things to consider before you sign a lease, including the type of lock, its cost and the unit's location.

Key Points

  • 1 Always check whether or not the storage company provides a lock.
  • 2 Some people use one-time padlocks, which don’t use a key and can only be opened by being cut.
  • 3 While similar in build to a regular padlock, disc locks have a round shape that makes them harder to break into, which makes them a popular choice.
  • 4 Cylinder locks are the familiar type often found on a home’s front door.

Types of Storage Unit Locks

Always check whether or not the storage company provides a lock. If not, it’s better to play it safe and invest in a quality one to protect your valuables. Most hardware stores carry a decent selection of security equipment. The best options for securing a storage unit are padlocks, disc locks and cylinder locks.

Padlocks

If asked to picture a lock, the average person would probably picture a padlock. These U-shaped locks are available pretty much anywhere, even in drugstores and supermarkets. They’re typically cheap and easy for a thief to cut, so it’s not a good idea to rely on them to secure a unit full of valuable items.

Some people use one-time padlocks, which don’t use a key and can only be opened by being cut. While not the most secure option, it provides an easy, low-cost way to tell if your unit has been tampered with or not. For more security, a closed-shackle padlock is a better option. These look similar to a normal padlock, but the U-shaped portion has a heavy-duty cover, making it harder for thieves to cut the lock.

Disc Locks

While similar in build to a regular padlock, disc locks have a round shape that makes them harder to break into, which makes them a popular choice. They’re resistant to striking, cutting and picking. They’re also widely available in hardware stores at reasonable prices, some for as low as $10 (though a quality disc lock can cost five times as much).

Because these locks are made of stainless steel and feature sturdy anti-pick pins, breaking them requires dedicated equipment, time and effort. For this reason, many consider disc locks to be the industry standard. Unfortunately, they aren’t compatible with some door latches. Check with the storage facility ahead of time to make sure their units are compatible with your lock.

Cylinder Locks

Cylinder locks are the familiar type often found on a home’s front door. A key moves the inner bolts to allow entry. Since this lock’s mechanisms are located within the storage unit, it can’t be cut by bolt cutters, which makes cylinder locks the most secure choice. Just like disc locks, they’re resistant to striking and picking as well.

However, storage facility doors are only compatible with certain cylinder locks, so it’s usually necessary to purchase one from the company’s office. Once your lease is over, the entire cylinder lock may be replaced for security reasons, even if you never reproduced or distributed your key.

Other Considerations

Purchasing the appropriate type of lock is important, but there are several other factors to consider when deciding which lock is best for your storage unit. If the items being stored are high-priced or valuable, it’s worth spending both time and money to ensure they’re as safe as possible.

Though storage itself can be expensive, skimping on a lock purchase might cause problems in the future. When you’re at the hardware store or the storage facility’s office, focus more on the value of the stored items than how much you’re about to pay for a lock. The lock is as much of an investment as safe storage. If the items are irreplaceable, don’t be afraid to spend upward of $100 on a quality lock.

Regardless of cost, your lock also needs to be the right fit for the storage unit. If unsure, always call or visit the storage facility to check out the dimensions yourself before signing the lease. This is especially important when using a padlock, as an improper fit can make it more difficult to fully close, creating a security issue.

Finally, note the location of the storage facility. Perhaps damage from inclement weather is more of a risk than theft. There’s no point in having a lock if it rusts or degrades to the point of failure. In addition, familiarize yourself with property crime rates in the area, and consider an alternative if your budget can’t handle a better lock to deal with a high burglary risk.