Choosing self-storage locks

Though self-storage facility theft is not all that common, you may have heard the occasional horror story on the news. We know that many tenants stash valuable belongings in their self-storage units, so choosing the right lock is a high priority. As a renter, you’re generally required to use your own lock. Most facilities have a selection of self-storage locks available for purchase in the office, but how do you know which type to buy? Here are SpareFoot’s expert recommendations:

Closed-shackle padlocks

These look like your standard padlock, with one notable exception. The shackle (the U-shaped bar at the top of the lock) is particularly short and thick, and it’s protected by an outside casing. This makes it difficult for bolt-cutters to reach. If a padlock is your general preference, be sure to choose a closed-shackle model.

Disc locks

Disc locks are the most popular self-storage locks, as they are resiliently strike-proof, drill-proof and pick-proof. They have a thickly built shackle that fits tightly around your storage unit door latch, making it difficult for anyone to jam bolt-cutters into the lock. Made of heavy-duty stainless steel, disc locks feature a lock mechanism that includes anti-pick pins. Breaking these locks takes full-on electrical equipment, and a whole lot of time and effort.

Though many consider disc locks the industry standard, they are incompatible with some storage unit door latches. Call your facility in advance to ask if you can use a disc lock. If you can’t, they will likely sell you an alternative lock.

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Cylinder locks

Many facilities are beginning to equip their units with cylinder locks. These are the most secure locks available because they are housed internally within the storage unit, similar to front door locks in your house or apartment. These cannot be cut, as the locks don’t stick out of the unit door. Like disc locks, they are also strike-proof, drill-proof and pick-proof.

Storage unit doors are built specifically to work with certain cylinder locks, so you’ll have to get one directly through the facility office. Because these are a newer development in the realm of self-storage locks, facilities that utilize them operate a little differently. Some managers ask that you return the issued key at the end of your lease. Others replace the entire cylinder lock for each new tenant. This is the most secure practice, as your unit will stay protected even if a previous renter created and distributed a copy of the key.

Bottom line

We do not recommend other types of self-storage locks, such as standard padlocks or combination padlocks. While these are more affordable options, they can be easily broken or picked. Don’t leave your stored belongings vulnerable. Keep them secure in a storage unit equipped with a closed-shackle padlock, disc lock or cylinder lock.