Let’s say you recently decided to rent a self-storage unit. Maybe you’re temporarily moving back home with your parents and can’t keep all of your belongings in their basement until you find your own place. On the other hand, you may live in a small apartment in a big city with little to no storage options available in your building. In any case, you need some extra space, and a monthly storage unit seems to be the perfect solution.
If you’ve never rented a storage unit before, you may quickly become overwhelmed with all the available options. Standard self-storage is great, but what about climate and temperature-controlled units? You might find yourself asking: Do I need climate-controlled storage for things like furniture, electronics, and other household items? And is a climate-controlled storage unit even worth it when the added cost is factored in?
Luckily, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to help you make the right decision. We’ll cover all the benefits of climate-controlled storage and direct you to a Life Storage facility near you to learn more.
What is climate-controlled storage?
First things first: How does climate-controlled storage differ from a standard storage unit? The first thing to note is that it’s more than just air conditioning. Climate-controlled storage units maintain a consistent temperature all year round. You can think of them as “temperature controlled” — cooled in the summer and heated in the winter. Based on your location and seasonal climate, some units even offer enhanced humidity control for added protection.
Climate-controlled storage units are still storage units, though. While they may not be as comfortable in temperature as your home living room, it’s preferable and more tolerable than a traditional unit. That’s what makes these climate-controlled units more expensive — but they also offer peace of mind when storing certain valuables.
How do I know if I need climate-controlled storage?
Whether or not you need climate-controlled storage depends on what you plan to stow in your unit. Basic self-storage will mostly be sufficient for standard items that most people plan to store. This includes a lot of different household, business, or yard items. However, climate-controlled storage is necessary and highly recommended for more sensitive items like antiques, musical instruments, electronics, or fine art.
Climate-controlled storage helps protect valuables from extreme temperature fluctuations that can damage, warp, or ruin wood furniture, electronics, plastic, and wax. So if you’re placing items like these in storage, you’ll want to consider all the advantages of a climate-controlled, humidity-controlled, or even a unit with both features.
What should be kept in climate-controlled storage?
When it comes to storage, not all items require a constant, stable temperature. Here are a few things that require a climate-controlled space:
- Antiques, especially wood furniture
- Musical instruments
- Books and magazines
- Important documents
- Upholstered furniture, rugs
- Vinyl records
Benefits of Climate-Controlled Storage
Still wondering if a climate-controlled storage unit is right for you? Here are some major benefits to consider while making your decision:
1. Protection From Extreme Temperature
In many parts of the country, temperatures can climb above 100 degrees in the summer and drop below freezing in the winter. If you live in a climate that experiences drastic temperature changes, you may want to protect your items from the damaging effects of extreme (and sometimes unexpected) temperature shifts.
Sensitive items like wood furniture, antiques, and musical instruments can suffer from warping, splitting, or cracking if there is a constant change in your storage unit’s temperature. That’s why climate-controlled storage units are kept at a consistent temperature year-round. The exact measurement varies by facility and location, but you can typically expect it to be below 80 or 90 degrees above freezing.
2. Most Climate-Controlled Units Have Great Air Quality
It’s common to overlook air quality when shopping for storage units. Especially if you’ve never rented a storage unit before or have always stored things in an attic, garage, or basement. Chances are you haven’t even considered how air quality might affect your belongings long-term.
Here’s what you need to know: A standard storage unit isn’t sealed like an indoor, climate-controlled unit. Because climate-controlled storage facilities must maintain a specific temperature, the air inside is continuously circulated. That means it’s always as fresh and clean as possible— you don’t need to prop open a door or window just to get some fresh air inside.
For the storage of sensitive electronics or paper-based items, air quality should be high on your priority list. Fine art, paintings, books, and business records can all be damaged when there is excess moisture in the air and humidity levels are unstable.
3. An Additional Barrier From Dust, Debris, and Pests
Climate-controlled storage units are often located inside buildings with professionally sealed and insulated roofs, walls, and floors. In conjunction with regular airflow and humidity control, units are generally less susceptible to collecting dust over time. These units are also sealed up tight indoors. You won’t need to worry about pollen, dirt, snow, and rainwater being tracked in, and there isn’t as much chance for rodents, insects, and other unwanted pests to make a home in your stored things.
4. Humidity Control Provides Even More Protection
In addition to a stable temperature, certain climate-controlled storage spaces also feature humidity control as an added amenity. This may not seem significant until you consider natural fluctuations in outdoor humidity. Depending on where you live, the changing of seasons can sometimes cause a drastic change in humidity, which can similarly leave sensitive and valuable items damaged beyond repair.
Storage Tip: Humidity control is especially important for antique furniture. If there’s too much moisture in the air, items may warp, crack, or rot.
Units that don’t offer any sort of humidity control may remain damp during the fall and spring seasons, promoting mold and mildew growth. And at that point, it doesn’t matter what it is you’re storing. If items are stored long enough in a humid environment without any circulation in the air, everything could smell like you’ve kept it stored in a basement for years.
Moisture isn’t the only problem, though. Not having enough humidity in the air can also wreak havoc on wood, causing it to dry out, craze, and splinter. In the height of summer and winter, dryness in the air could damage your valuables like musical instruments, electronics, and wine.
In any case, be sure to ask if the climate-controlled unit you’re looking at also offers humidity control. These units usually keep the base humidity around 55% by manually removing excess moisture from the air.
Storage Tip: If you can’t afford humidity-controlled storage and will be storing during damp months, be sure to access your unit regularly to keep the air naturally circulating. Opening the doors will allow fresh air into the unit and flush out any built-up humidity and odors.
*Note: Some humidity-controlled storage units are available without climate control.
5. Built-In Peace Of Mind
It’s no surprise that climate-controlled storage usually costs more than traditional storage. After all, maintaining a consistent temperature, air quality, and humidity levels are an added operational cost for the facility. But when it comes down to it, this slight price increase is often insignificant and usually overshadowed by the peace of mind you’re given knowing you’ve protected your items from harsh seasonal changes and weather-related mishaps.
Climate-Controlled Options at Life Storage
Did you know: Life Storage offers a variety of climate-controlled storage options to choose from. Depending on your unique situation, you can choose from various storage units with varying amenities and benefits to suit your needs and budget.
In addition to our standard storage units, learn more about:
- Temperature Controlled Storage Units
- Humidity Controlled Storage Units
- Heated Storage Units
- Air Cooled Storage Units
- Air Conditioned Storage Units
Scroll to the bottom of our climate control page to access our Storage Climate Recommendation Widget. Here, you will see a list of common items people store with our recommendations on whether you should use a standard, temperature, or humidity controlled storage unit.
Is Climate-Controlled Storage Right for You?
In laying out the various benefits, we hope this guide helps determine if your belongings require a climate-controlled environment or if you’ll be able to make do with a standard storage unit in your area. Find a Life Storage facility near you by using our interactive locator tool, and be sure to contact us with any questions!
Read These Helpful Storage Guides Next:
- How To Clean Out a Storage Unit
- Storage Unit FAQs – Renting a Storage Unit
- How to Organize a Self-Storage Unit for Frequent Access
Updated on 5/11/23 & 5/11/17 from an article originally published 3/25/2013.