How Important is Climate-Controlled Self Storage to Owners?
Standard self storage works for most household and business items that you would generally store in your garage or attic. On the other hand, the popularity of storing luxury items, collectibles and antiques has increased the demand for climate-controlled storage.
As a facility owner or manager, it’s important to understand what your tenants expect from climate-controlled storage. Bear in mind that climate-controlled and temperature-controlled storage are different. Temperature-controlled simply means that the temperature is regulated, and that the humidity can’t be controlled. Climate-controlled, by comparison, means that the temperature and humidity are regulated, enabling a consistent temperature.
Cooling your units with air conditioning is not the same as being climate controlled. The moisture levels will not be low enough to protect certain types of items. To understand the value of climate-controlled storage to your facility as well as your responsibilities to your tenants, read the following information.
What Exactly is Climate-Controlled Storage?
Humidity and temperature work together to control moisture levels in a storage unit. As humidity levels increase, so does the air’s ability to hold heat. When humidity is decreased, it helps to keep temperatures low. For example, a 90 degree day combined with high humidity levels feels much warmer and less comfortable than a less humid day with the same temperature.
Climate-controlled storage requires high quality HVAC systems, dehumidifiers, customizable thermostats, and heavy duty insulation to control both temperature and humidity. Dehumidifiers manage humidity over time, but air conditioners are better at dropping humidity levels quickly. Using a dehumidifier along with air conditioning is more energy efficient at controlling humidity.
Is There a Difference Between Temperature-Controlled and Climate-Controlled Self Storage?
As previously mentioned, temperature-control only manages the temperature, while climate-control manages both temperature and humidity. To be effective, climate-controlled storage facilities need industrial dehumidifiers and HVAC systems. There are two main types of dehumidifiers – desiccant and mechanical.
Desiccant dehumidifiers use a drying chemical substance, like silica gel, to absorb moisture from the air. Because these types of dehumidifiers use heat as an energy source, they can be structured to run off the waste of other heat processes. This can save self storage owners energy and money. Desiccant dehumidifiers are more cost effective but don’t do as efficient a job of controlling extreme humidity as mechanical dehumidifiers.
Mechanical dehumidifiers, like air conditioners, use refrigerant to remove moisture from the air. They are less energy efficient than desiccant models, but they can control even the most extreme humidity.
Before you choose a dehumidifier for your facility, you best move is to consult a professional.
At What Humidity Levels Should Items in Climate-Controlled Storage Be Kept?
Climate-controlled storage keeps a unit’s indoor temperature between 55 and 85 degrees F and maintains a humidity level of 55%. As a comparison, the average air conditioned home stays between 35%-45% humidity. Most items will suffer damage and deterioration at above 55 degrees. Think of climate control as an air-conditioner, humidifier, and dehumidifier combination to sustain the proper temperature and humidity levels.
What Items Should be Kept in Climate-Controlled Storage
- Artwork and Craft Supplies
- Business Documents and Inventory
- Coin Collections
- Delicate Fabrics and Textiles
- Delicate Paper Items
- Household Appliances
- Leather Furniture
- Musical Instruments
- Stamp and Comic Book Collections
- Wood and Antique Furniture
- Vinyl Records
If you planning to add wine storage to your facility, it is more specialized and may require additional accommodations. High temperatures and the wrong humidity levels significantly change wine. Wine does best at 45 to 60 degrees F and a humidity level of 60-80%. Temperatures that are too low could freeze or dry out the cork. Too much humidity will age the wine quickly causing a cloudy, brown appearance.
As a Storage Owner, are You Legally Responsible for Items Damaged In Climate-Controlled Units?
Storage owners are not responsible for damage to items in climate-controlled storage. Consider doing the following to avoid liability.
- Make sure the lease agreement includes a clear definition of “climate-controlled” storage as well as the standard liability language.
- Train management and staff to avoid making guarantees to customers around temperature or humidity. If something does go wrong, a verbal representation could be used by a tenant to make a legal claim against you.
If your facility has climate-controlled units, check with your legal counsel and insurance provider to be sure that your advertising and lease agreements do not impose increased liability on your facility.
The rise in popularity of storing collectibles and luxury items means that customer storage need expectations are also on the rise. Climate-controlled storage is increasingly in demand and important to your tenants. If you’re not currently offering climate-controlled units at your facility, your prospects will find them down the block or around the corner. Don’t send your customers to your competition.