If you have many possessions—but precious little room to store them at home—chances are you’ve considered renting a storage unit. However, in some cases, those items could be at risk if you fail to rent a climate-controlled unit. Climate control keeps temperature and humidity levels constant.

“Temperature and humidity control can prevent damage when items are stored for a lengthy period of time,” said Tim Dietz, a spokesman for the Self Storage Association.

Climate control in the self-storage industry can be defined in various ways, said Diane Piegza, vice president of corporate communications at Sovran Self Storage Inc., a REIT that operates the Uncle Bob’s Self Storage chain.

“It’s everything from temperature control to humidity control,” she said. “In some cases, it’s the best of both worlds.”

Piegza said climate controlled storage units have become more common in recent years. She estimates 75% of newly built facilities now offer this feature.

How Much Does Climate-Controlled Storage Cost?

The cost of renting self-storage with climate control varies widely—anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent higher than traditional storage. “It’s all based on supply and demand,” Piegza said.

Maxfield said the extra cost of climate control—often referred to as the “climate control premium”—typically adds up to 35 percent to 50 percent. A standard 10×10 storage unit with climate control might cost $140 a month to rent, he said, while a unit without climate control could cost $90.

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The Benefits of a Climate Controlled Storage Unit

The extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on items kept in self storage units in many regions of the U.S. In parts of the South and West, daytime temperatures regularly reach scorching highs during the summer.

By contrast, customers in Northern states may own items that are vulnerable to temperatures that regularly fall below freezing in the winter.

Climate control storage units can keep your items at a safe temperature throughout the year, and maintain humidity levels that prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Items That Should Be Kept in Climate Controlled Storage Units

Temperature extremes can be tough on everything from wood and leather to pictures and videotapes. Sensitive items may crack or warp. Others may yellow, while documents may become unreadable over time. The slightest bit of moisture can spawn mildew and mold in a unit without temperature-controlled storage.

Items that may be susceptible to damage without climate control include:

  • Bedding and mattresses
  • Sports equipment
  • Musical instruments
  • Metal appliances
  • Books and other paperwork
  • Photographs
  • Important documents
  • Leather goods
  • Antique and wooden furniture
  • Shoes and clothing
  • Family heirlooms
  • Vinyl records
  • Collectibles

Climate-controlled storage reduces these risks by using heating and cooling units to keep the storage space at a safe temperature, usually at a level above freezing and below 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are storing wine, keep in mind that your bottles need to be kept under even more controlled conditions. A specialized wine storage facility is the best bet for your prized vino collection.

Humidity: The 55 Percent Mark

Units that also offer humidity control keep humidity levels around 55 percent, Dietz said. Humidity is particularly dangerous to a variety of items, said Tom Maxfield, national operations director at Move It Storage Management in Dallas.

“High humidity can cause photos to stick together, or wood furniture to warp, or leather goods to crack,” he said.

Electronics, artwork and items such as pianos also may sustain damage from humid environments, Piegza said.

If you own an item that’s especially sensitive to humidity, search for a storage unit that actively dehumidifies the air. Units that simply cool the air with air conditioning may not bring moisture levels low enough to protect all items, Piegza said.

“The true sweet spot for items that are truly sensitive to high humidity levels is around 55 percent,” Piegza said.

Climate control is a catch-all term, so if you are concerned about humidity it is best to ask the facility for more information.

Do I Need Climate Controlled Storage?

Not everyone needs climate control, Piegza said. “I don’t want to totally discount traditional storage,” she said. “In many cases, that will suffice for people.”

People who plan to store items for short periods of time probably can stick with traditional self-storage, Piegza said.

Still, anyone storing expensive or irreplaceable items—especially if they hold sentimental or historical value—should consider climate control, Maxfield said. Knowing your items are being kept at a proper temperature can provide significant peace of mind.

“The monthly rental rate is not significant for these customers,” he said. “A secure, clean, dry and temperature-controlled environment is essential.”

Bottom Line on Climate Controlled Self Storage

If you live in an area with extreme heat, extreme cold, or high humidity, climate-controlled storage units provide the best protection for your stored items. If you are storing sensitive items or plan to keep your items in storage for the long-term, climate-controlled storage units are recommended, regardless of your local climate.

Most Popular Cities for Climate Controlled Storage Units

City, StateAvg. Price Per Month
Houston, TX$59.06
Los Angeles, CA$147.48
Baltimore, MD$82.69
Chicago, IL$64.42
New York, NY$138.52
Austin, TX$71.33
Jacksonville, FL$81.91
Atlanta, GA$67.38
Columbus, OH$81.07
Phoenix, AZ$73.67
Wichita, KS$98.57
Dallas, TX$62.95
Charlotte, NC$67.89
Baton Rouge, LA$62.89
San Antonio, TX$88.51

Frequently Asked Questions

What is climate-controlled storage?

Climate-controlled self-storage units have regulated temperature and humidity levels to keep your items safe. Storage units without climate control offer no air conditioning whatsoever.

Do I need climate-controlled storage?

If you live in an area with extreme temperatures or are storing items that are especially sensitive, climate-controlled storage is usually worth the extra cost for the protection and peace of mind it provides.

How much does climate-controlled storage cost?

Climate controlled self-storage typically costs about 35% to 50% more than a unit without climate control. A standard 10×10 storage unit with climate control might cost $140 a month to rent.