Comprehensive Self Storage Guide
What is a Storage Unit?
A storage unit is a secure room or parking spot in a self-storage facility you can use to store most belongings. Storage units come in various sizes, from small (5x5) to extra-large (20x40) and several more in between. This makes choosing a storage unit that fits your needs easy.
Think about storage units like a big closet or garage. They have a floor, roof, 3 walls and a door, and other possible features depending on your needs. Most storage units have large, roll-up doors, making it easy to get your things in and out no matter how big they are. Unless you rent a locker storage unit, most have walls that are 8 feet high, the height of the average wall in most U.S. homes.
Depending on the storage facility you choose, you'll also find several different types of storage units, including drive-up units that can be accessed easily with a car or truck. Some self-storage facilities are large warehouses with interior storage units, and many facilities offer features like air-conditioned and/or air-cooled units. No matter the type you choose, all storage units provide the exact solution; space to store the things you can't store at home or work.
Reasons People Use Storage Units
All over the United States, homeowners, students, military personnel, entrepreneurs, and business owners alike face a similar, frustrating problem; a lack of storage space for all their stuff.
Homeowners feel the pinch when they realize their closets are overflowing and their garage is full. Students need storage space every time they go on break or take a semester to study abroad. Business owners and entrepreneurs? They run out of storage constantly, causing profits to drop and frustration levels to rise. Then there are the fine men and women of our military forces who need storage often, especially when they get redeployed.
What's the solution to this lack of space? That's easy! A clean, safe, and secure storage unit from Storage Solutions! Affordable, accessible, and offering all the extra space you need, storage units from Storage Solutions are the answer when you run out of room at home or work.
If you're stressed because you don't know where to store all your stuff, the detailed information below will give you all the particulars you need to decide whether renting a storage unit is your best solution. It's valuable information to save you time, effort, and money when renting your next storage unit!
People Who Need Self Storage
People from all walks of life use storage units when they need more storage space. Below we'll take a closer look at who uses storage units and why.
Families and Personal Storage
American families nationwide rent storage units when they run out of storage space at home. It's easy, convenient, affordable and allows you to breathe easier at home with less clutter and fewer overstuffed closets. This is especially true for folks living in apartments since they have far less storage space than houses. Below are reasons a single person or family would want to rent a storage unit.
- Sudden Life Changes. A baby has arrived, and you need to clear out your spare bedroom. Or that baby grows up and moves out. That's when many empty-nesters clear out their child's bedroom to repurpose it into a workout room, craft room, movie room, etc.
- Renovations and remodeling. Storing valuable items when your home is being renovated or remodeled will keep them from getting dirty, damaged, or stolen.
- You've sold your home but don't have a new one yet. Self-storage is a great interim solution in this situation.
- Your new home isn't ready, but you've moved out of the old one.
- You've inherited belongings from a deceased relative but don't have room to store them at home.
- You're an avid collector (antiques, action figures, dolls, Lego, plates, etc.), but your collection has outgrown your living space.
- You started a home business but need more storage space for stock, supplies, etc.
One of college students' biggest issues is moving all their college stuff back and forth to school before and after every break. It's tedious, time-consuming, and many things get lost or broken in the process. For students who live far from school, it's also expensive, especially renting a moving truck and paying for gas.
Renting a storage unit near your college or university takes away most of those negatives. It makes storing your college necessities easier, more convenient, and far less costly because you can keep your things close to campus.
Business owners and entrepreneurs across the country rent storage units daily to store various items. For example, entrepreneurs with start-up companies rent storage units to store their goods, overstock, and business gear. Many other types of business owners use business storage for the following reasons:
- Medical professionals, including doctors, dentists, and chiropractors. (For their old, outdated medical files.)
- Lawncare specialists store all their equipment and trailers.
- Brick-and-mortar retail store owners.
- Seasonal rental businesses (Canoes, kayaks, bicycles, boats, jet skis, etc.)
- Construction specialists store their tools and gear.
- Blue-collar business owners like plumbers, electricians, painters, carpenters, and more store their equipment and parts.
- Wedding reception and party rental companies store tables, chairs, decorations, food service essentials, etc.
The fine men and women of the United States armed forces rent storage units all the time, especially those who are being deployed and need to move out of their homes, apartment, or barracks. Storage units make this stressful time easier to handle, and since the rents are month-to-month, you'll never get stuck in a long-term contract when you get back.
Common Items People Store in a Storage Unit
Below we'll look at some of the most common things people keep in storage units.
- House Decor
- Seasonal clothing and gear. Parkas, ski equipment, you name it.
- Business overstock, equipment, and files
- Collectibles: Books, plates, antiques, dolls, Lego bricks, action figures, toys, wine, etc.
- Tools, work gear, and equipment
- Vintage clothing
- Business items
- And more!
Indoor vs. Outdoor Storage Units
Although it may sound slight, there are several significant differences between an indoor storage unit and an outdoor storage unit. Both have their pros and cons, which are listed below.
Not all self-storage facilities have indoor storage units. Typically, those that do are large, warehouse-type storage facilities with several entrances and floors. These interior storage units are usually accessible by hallways or corridors after entering the building. To enter the hallways to the storage units, keypad access is usually necessary, adding an extra layer of security.
Outdoor Storage Units
Traditional storage units are what most people see in their mind's eye when they think of outdoor storage. These are usually long, one-story buildings with storage units lined up next to each other in long rows. Most outdoor units are drive-up storage units you can drive to with a car or truck. You can then access the unit's front door without entering a building.
- Less temperature fluctuation
- No interference from the weather
- Less risk of flooding on higher floors
- Some indoor units are air-conditioned (See below)
- More time is needed to access, pack and unpack
- Your items must be taken by cart down hallways and up elevators
- Drive-up access on most units
- Easier, faster packing and unpacking
- Less time is needed to access the storage unit
- No need to enter a building to access your storage unit
- The weather might affect you when packing or unpacking your unit
- Temperature extremes are possible and can affect temperature sensitive items
Air-Conditioned Storage Units vs. Traditional Storage Units
Some Storage units have unique features; one of them is air-conditioned storage. Below we'll look at the difference between these specialized storage units and a traditional storage unit.
Traditional Storage Units
Traditional storage units are usually not heated or cooled in any way. This is typical for most storage units, and they're just fine for most household goods and other items. You should note that regular storage units have one major drawback: temperature extremes.
Let's say you live in an area where it gets sweltering in summer or severely cold in winter. In those places, the temperature inside your storage unit will be similar to the temperature outside. Keep this in mind when deciding which features you need to look for when choosing a storage unit.
In short, anything stored inside a storage unit will be exposed to extreme heat or cold (and sometimes both depending on where you live). In short, if storing fragile items that can't take extreme temperatures, a traditional storage unit may not work for your needs. If you need help deciding which type of storage unit will best serve you, call Storage Solutions today! Our experts are available and ready to help you.
Air-Conditioned Storage Units
The major difference between a traditional storage unit and an air-conditioned storage unit is that the temperature is controlled, the inside of an air-conditioned storage unit should never freeze or reach a sweltering temperature.
The benefit is that anything stored inside an air-conditioned storage unit will not be exposed to extreme temperatures, keeping them safer than traditional units. The items below are commonly stored in air-conditioned storage units:
- Medical supplies
- Important files and paperwork
- Wine collections
- Collectibles and collections
- High-end electronics
- Musical instruments
Common Features of a Secure Storage Facility
There are common features that make a storage facility secure. Not all storage facilities will have them, and it is something that you should keep in mind when searching for a storage unit. Below we look at self-storage facilities' most common safety features and their valuable benefits. The listed features are also included in almost all Storage Solution facilities, so be sure to look at the Storage Solutions nearest to you!
24/7 video monitoring
Just the sight of our video security cameras and signage is enough to deter criminals away.
Electronic, keypad-controlled entrance gates
You need to key in a specific key code to get in or out of a storage facility. Without it, criminals are stopped dead in their tracks before they can even enter the facility.
Well-lit parking lots
Are you going into your storage unit after dark? If so, you'll be glad to know that all of our facilities are well-lit at night. That includes the interior of our warehouse-type storage facilities.
Every Storage Solutions location has an on-site manager, and some have more than one. They keep an eye on each facility, adding an extra layer of protection and security.
Most Storage Solutions locations sell disc locks, which have been proven superior to padlocks. Disc locks offer an additional level of protection for your stored belongings. Many facilities utilize cylinder style locks which offer the best protection for your stored belongings.
Choosing the Correct Sized Storage Unit
At Storage Solutions, we take pride in making reserving a storage unit online easy. (We don't require a deposit or credit card!) However, before you can reserve a storage unit, it's critical you know what size unit you need. There are several, from relatively small to extra-large, making the choice difficult for first-time storage unit users.
To make it easier, below are several of the most popular storage unit sizes and the number of items they can fit. Keep in mind that most storage units are 8 feet tall, the height of the walls in a typical U.S. home. Keep in mind, every cubic foot of space is available. You can stack all the way to the ceiling.
5x5 Storage unit (200 cubic feet of space)
Typically, the smallest storage unit (there are some exceptions), a 5x5 storage unit can hold the contents of a small bedroom or a dorm room. For example (for comparison purposes only):
- Single bed and box spring= 40 cubic feet
- Desk= 10 cubic feet
- Dresser, large= 32 cubic feet
- Dresser, small= 24 cubic feet
- Night table= 5 cubic feet
- Dorm fridge= 6 cubic feet
- Bicycle= 8 cubic feet
- 10x medium boxes (3 cubic feet each)= 30 cubic feet
- 2 wardrobe boxes (10 cubic feet each)= 20 cubic feet
5x10 Storage unit (400 cubic feet)
This size storage unit is great for collections and items you want to access regularly. It's small but not too small and will hold a 1-bedroom apartment. For example (for comparison purposes only):
- Queen bed and box spring= 60 cubic feet
- Desk= 10 cubic feet
- Desk chair= 6 cubic feet
- Dresser, small= 24 cubic feet
- Night table x 2= 10 cubic feet
- Bicycle x 2= 16 cubic feet
- 20x small boxes (1.5 cubic feet each)= 30cubic feet
- 15x medium boxes (3 cubic feet each)= 45 cubic feet
- 5x large boxes (5 cubic feet each)= 25 cubic feet
- 5 wardrobe boxes (10 cubic feet each)= 50 cubic feet
- 3 mirror boxes (5 cubic feet)= 15 cubic feet
10x10 Storage unit (800 Cubic feet)
Once you get to a 10x10 storage unit, you're starting to get to a size large enough to fit quite a bit of stuff. A 2-bedroom apartment will fit inside this size unit, but several other uses spring to mind. For example, you could store the following (for comparison purposes only):
- 40 4-drawer filing cabinets with space to open them to access the files.
- 30 to 40 adult bicycles
- 150 large boxes (5 cubic feet per box)
- 16 large storage racks filled with clear plastic bins
10x15 Storage unit (1200 cubic feet)
This size storage unit is great for content from a 3-bedroom apartment or even for smaller john boats.
- Content from a 2-bedroom home (as long as everything is boxed and stacked well)
- An 8-foot John Boat on a trailer with an engine and all your boating gear
- 40 to 50 wardrobe boxes filled with vintage clothes (and the space to open them and get things out)
10x20 Storage unit (1600 cubic feet)
A 10x20 storage unit offers a lot of extra storage space, no doubt. Some of the items you could fit inside this unit include for example (for comparison purposes only):
- Most mid-size cars plus 30 to 40 large boxes and other stuff
- A 12-foot boat with an engine and trailer
- A 12-foot fold-down camper
- The entire contents of a 3-bedroom home
- A 15-foot trailer loaded with gear, tools, etc.
10x30 Storage unit (2400 cubic feet)
By the time you reach this size storage unit, you're getting more storage space than the average 2-car garage, which is a lot of space. You could easily store the following items in an area this large (for comparison purposes only)::
- The contents of a 5-bedroom home
- A 20-foot boat with an engine and trailer plus all your boating gear
- Practically any car on the road (plus extra space for boxes and other belongings)
- 110 4-drawer filing cabinets with room to open them (and another 200 book boxes stacked on top of them)
When choosing a storage unit, one excellent suggestion is to determine what size you need and pick the next larger size. That gives you breathing room when packing and loading your unit. If your unit is stuffed full, getting to certain items might mean having to take everything out of your unit, which can be a lot of work and time. Better to have a larger storage unit with extra space to move around, open boxes and drawers, and not have to stack and unstack everything each time you need to get something. Remember, if you want something stored in your unit, you can get it out 7 days a week, 365 days per year. Access hours depend on the facility you are at, so please confirm with the facility manager first.
You can store many different vehicles in a storage unit, and folks, nationwide, do so daily. Storing a vehicle can be a blessing, especially when you don't have a garage or driveway. From cars to trucks, boats, motorcycles, jet skis, scooters, and 4-wheelers, as long as it fits in your storage unit and the door closes, you're good to go! There are different types of storage for vehicles, also. Let's take a closer look at them.
Vehicle Storage Inside a Storage Unit
This is the best storage for a vehicle as it's completely protected from the elements and falling debris. Many customers store cars, trucks, motorcycles, and boats inside a storage unit. You can also store canoes, kayaks, and Sunfish sailboats inside a unit.
Outside, Covered Storage Parking Spaces
These are parking spaces covered by a roof. Covered storage spaces are typically used for RVs, boats, and larger vehicles.
Outside, Uncovered Storage Parking Spaces
These storage parking spaces are the cheapest as they're outside and uncovered. If you're on a budget, storing a car, truck, RV, boat, or another vehicle in an outdoor parking space is best as it's cheaper but still highly secure. (It's recommended to purchase a cover for the vehicle, but it's not required.)
Requirements for Storing a Vehicle in a Self-Storage Facility
No matter what type of vehicle you store, there are several requirements it must meet. They include the following:
- All vehicles must be insured
- All vehicles must be registered
- The vehicle must be in operating condition and road-ready
- If stored inside a storage unit, the unit's door must be able to close and lock
Items That Are Prohibited from Being Stored in a Storage Unit
While many items can be stored in a storage unit, a few exceptions can never be stored in one. They include the following items, most of which are illegal, dangerous, risky, or flammable.
- Explosives of any kind
- Live plants of any kind
- Any living animal.
- Gasoline, propane tanks and other flammable items including Lithium-ion batteries.
- Perishable food items and dry, boxed foods. (Canned goods and any items in pest-proof containers are OK.)
- People. You can't live or even sleep one night in a storage unit.
- Stolen goods and illegal drugs. These two items speak for themselves and should never be stored in a storage unit.
- Anything illegal
Can You Store Ammunition in a Storage Unit?
Ammunition is flammable, which means you can't store it in a storage unit.
Can You Store Wireless Power Tools in a Storage Unit?
Yes, but not their batteries. Most modern wireless power tools utilize Lithium-ion batteries. These batteries have been documented spontaneously combusting due to temperature extremes or unexpectedly short-circuiting, causing massive fires.
Insurance for Your Storage Units
Financial protection is required for all storage units currently rented and filled with items. Although rare, acts of God like floods, hurricanes, and tornados can affect a storage unit and cause damage. Having your unit financially protected will offset any losses you might face after one of these types of natural disasters. As an added value to our customers, Storage Solutions offers low-cost property protection. In many ways, this product is better than many insurance policies. For instance, there is no deductible, no depreciation of goods protected, and our plans don’t increase your rates because you file a claim. For more details on these plans, talk to our onsite manager at your nearest Storage Solutions facility.
Features to Look for in a Storage Unit
Storage Solutions offers a wide variety of features at our self-storage facilities. Below are the basic storage features you should always look for and some additional features you might want to ask about before choosing a storage unit.
Basic (but Essential) Storage Features:
- Clean storage units
- 24/7 video security cameras
- Electronic, keypad-controlled front gates
- A fully-fenced facility
- Well-lit facilities
- On-site managers
- Plenty of parking lot space to get in and out with a large truck if needed
Additional Storage Features at Select Locations:
- Drive-up storage units
- Indoor storage units
- Air-Conditioned storage units
- Outdoor, covered parking spaces
- Outdoor, uncovered parking spaces
- Boxes and packing supplies
- A convenient Storage unit size guide (brochure)
- Free use of carts to move things into your unit
- Boat and RV storage
- Rental trucks
- Free use of box truck with move-in
The best thing about Storage Solutions is that all the basic features listed are found at most of our self-storage facilities. As for the additional features, it depends on the facility you are storing at. For more information call a Storage Solutions nearest to you!
At Storage Solutions, we realize there are other storage options and storage facilities available to you. That's why we go above and beyond to offer you the features and benefits to make your self-storage experience convenient, stress-free, and physically easier.
For example, our on-site managers are storage experts who can guide you toward the best unit for your needs and give you helpful, time-saving, and money-saving advice. We also sell boxes and packing supplies at most locations, making them a 1-stop shop for all your packing and storage needs.
Storage Solutions also makes your entire experience less stressful in several other ways, including:
- Month-to-month leases. You'll never get stuck in a long-term storage contract if your plans suddenly change.
- Online management of your account, including payments.
- Expert help online or on the phone
- Our informative Blog with How-to articles and helpful information
Storage Solutions - Your Self-Storage Experts
We take great pride in being your Storage Solution. We strive to ensure that you receive the best value for your money when storing with us. Our goal is to make your storage experience easier. Rent or reserve your storage unit online in minutes today. For questions, call or stop by your local Storage Solutions location to speak with our storage experts.