Everything You Need to Know About Self-Storage Locks

February 11, 2021
Find Self-Storage

While self-storage theft is not a common occurrence, 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?

Investing in a good lock should be the priority of any storage facility renter, especially if they are storing valuable items. Cheap storage unit locks really won’t do much to keep determined burglars out of your storage unit. Locks serve as more of a deterrent than a full-proof defense. However, there are are several high-quality locks that you can buy to better protect your storage unit compared to others.

What to Look For in High-Quality Self-Storage Locks

A strong storage lock will deter most thieves, because the time and effort to break the lock will increase their risk of getting caught. When choosing a storage lock consider the following features:

  • Shackle. The shackle is the part of the lock that fits through the latch/hasp of your storage door. You’ll want a shackle that is just thick enough to fit through the hasp. Go with the thickest diameter shackle you can that will still fit through the hasp. A 3/8″ diamter shackle or thicker should be sufficient for most users.
  • Locking mechanism. The locking mechanism is a series of pins that hold the shackle in place when the lock is secured. When you insert the key the shackle is released. The more pins a lock has, the harder it is to pick. We recommend choosing a lock with at least five pins for the best protection, but seven to 10 is even more secure.
  • Lock body. This is the part of the lock that houses the locking mechanism. The lock body should be all metal, preferably hardened steel or titanium.
  • Boron carbide. Boron carbide is one of the hardest materials on earth. It is a type of ceramic that is used in bulletproof vests and tank armor. They are also used to make high-security locks. While they are the most expensive type of lock you can buy, they are much harder to cut with bolt cutters.  For most tenants such a lock may be overkill, but it is definitely the most secure.

If you are wondering where to buy cylinder lock for storage unit, most storage facilities have good options you can purchase on site. Some may require that you use a specific type of lock. You can also buy high-quality locks from Amazon, or your local hardware store.

The Best Self-Storage Locks

Here are SpareFoot’s expert recommendations for the best locks to buy to safeguard your storage unit contents. Choosing a quality lock might cost you a little bit extra, but the peace of mind provided is often worth it.

Cylinder Lock for Storage Units

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.

Closed-Shackle Padlocks for Storage Units

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.

Here are some closed-shackle padlocks to consider:

Disc Locks for Storage Units

Disc padlocks 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.

Here are some disc locks worth considering:

The Worst Lock to Use For Self-Storage

Aside from a cheap version of the locks mentioned above, the worst lock you can use for self-storage is a combination lock. Never mind the hassle of forgetting the code, combination locks are among the easiest for thieves to break into. Some facilities may not even let you use a combination lock because of the risk involved.

Bottom Line on Storage Locks

For maximum security, 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.


Search for Storage Near You

About the SpareFoot Blog

The SpareFoot Blog offers tips about self-storage, information about storage auctions, advice about home organization, news about SpareFoot and much more.
Contact the editor: [email protected]

We are a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to affiliated sites.

Recent Posts