Before you even consider which type of lock to buy for your self-storage unit, check out the facility itself. Is the property fenced and secure? Do gates require an access code? Are there security cameras throughout the property? Do knowledgeable and professional resident managers run the business? When you can say, “Yes” to all of these questions, that’s the time to investigate locks.
Ready? Ok, let’s review your lock options now…
The three most common types of locks include, combination locks, padlocks, and disk locks. Let’s discuss each one separately.
Combination locks require no keys, so they’re easy to use. However, there are downfalls. First, you need to remember your combination. Forget it and you’ll be spending time either guessing, or, using a hacksaw to break it off. Second, if hacksaw or bolt cutters will work for you, then they’ll work for others as well. Third, many will eventually rust or corrode and will need replacing. Pay extra for a heavy-duty lock with a thick, short shackle made of hardened steel that resists prying, sawing, and cutting. Check the size of the latch and find the largest lock that will fit.
Padlocks use keys, which manipulate pins inside the cylinder to unleash the shackle. How many spy movies have we seen where a keyed lock is picked within seconds, given the right tools? They can also be rekeyed easily or opened with a bump key. Look for a high-quality lock with a thick, short shackle, and bumping countermeasures.
Disk locks typically cost more. The shrouded design shields the shackle, protecting it from bolt cutters. They are manufactured for outdoor use. And, some have circular keys making it difficult to pick. Sure, you could grind this lock off with a skill saw, but that would make noise and requires electricity.
The reality is that, given the right tools and enough time, any lock can be disabled. Sunlight, rain, the size of the lock, materials used, and outside temperatures all affect the usefulness and longevity of a lock. Sorry for the pun, but the “key” here is to use a lock that causes a would-be thief to pass over your unit because it will cause a commotion, alerting the manager, or take too long to open, leaving them vulnerable to the prying “eyes” of security cameras.
Oh, and while you’re considering which lock to buy, check with your insurance company to see if they give a discount for a particular type of lock.