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. However, there are are several high-quality locks that you can buy to better protect your storage unit.
What to Look For in a High-Quality Security Lock
A strong lock will deter most thieves, because the time and effort to break the lock will increase their risk of getting caught. When choosing a 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.
- 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.
Here are SpareFoot’s expert recommendations for the best locks to buy to safeguard your storage unit contents.
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 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:
- Brink’s Commercial Diskus Lock with Stainless Steel Shackle
- Master Lock Stainless Steel Discus Padlock
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.
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.