Most self-storage facilities offer many different sizes of storage units to choose from. This can be a daunting task, especially if you've never used self-storage before. Your optimal unit size will depend on both what is being stored and how the storage unit will be utilized. If you think about it, the unit volume will always have to be bigger than the bulk volume of the items being stored. This difference will be a function of the uniformity and shape of the items being stored, as well as the need for access to these items.
For storing most cars, a 10x20’ unit is required. Only a very short car, such as Smart Car or Mini, will fit inside of a 10’x15’ storage unit. For trucks, a 10’ x 30’ unit is almost always required. For storing a snowmobile, a 5’x15’ unit is ideal, however, if this size is not available, a snowmobile will also fit diagonally inside of a 10’x10’ storage unit. A motorcycle, by comparison, will need a 5’x10’ storage unit, which will also generally accommodate a pair of dirt bikes. Multiple pedal bicycles, for their part, can easily be stored inside of a 5’x5’ storage unit, simply by standing the bicycles vertically.
For storing tools, furniture, and miscellaneous household items, the unit size depends largely on whether or not the contents of the unit will need to be accessed while in storage. If you are planning to trek from Patagonia to Tuktoyaktuk, for example, and will not be accessing your unit during this time, the volume of the unit need be only slightly larger than the volume of your items – put those Tetris skills to work! Just keep in mind, however, that you should always leave some space for air circulation. Items packed too tight can encourage mold and mildew as humid air cannot circulate. Placing items on pallets is a great trick to encourage air circulation. In terms of size, a 5’×10’ storage unit will generally accommodate a one-bedroom apartment. A two-bedroom apartment or small two-bedroom townhouse, by comparison, will typically require a 10’×10’ storage unit, whereas a larger two-bedroom townhouse will likely require a 10’×15’ storage unit. A three-bedroom house, for its part, will generally require a 10’x20’ storage unit and possibly even a 10’x30’ storage unit if major appliances or items from a garage are included.
A business storing inventory, or a contractor storing tools and supplies, will require frequent access to the items in storage. This will require aisles and shelving to access everything located beyond the first two feet or so of the front of the storage unit. Free-standing shelving can be used to create a mini-warehouse inside your storage unit – just be sure that any shelves are free-standing and that they do not need to be secured to a wall, as most self-storage facilities will not permit any modification to their storage units. The same considerations apply to non-commercial customers. As a general rule, and assuming that regular access will be required, it is often a good idea to consider going up a unit size from what you might otherwise need.
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