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Construction and Security

Anthony Gardner Comments
Posted in Articles

By Anthony Gardner

Security in the self-storage business has undergone a dramatic evolution. No longer are padlocks and a chainlink fence enough to keep burglars out of a facility and away from tenants' belongings. Prospective tenants may not always ask specific questions, but they are certainly looking at the services you offer to protect their valuables.

Initial Planning

Landscaping and Lighting

Security Systems

  • Individual door alarms (wired or wireless);
  • Access controls for gates, hallway access doors, and/or elevators;
  • Sirens and dialers;
  • Smart-logic controllers that provide record keeping, etc.;
  • Video surveillance cameras, monitors and time-lapse recording;
  • Site graphics and monitoring; and
  • Motion sensors to protect boats and RVs, plus perimeter beams.

Individual Door Alarms


  • Cost is the same as wireless if done before construction;
  • The method of installation is familiar to most installers; and
  • Electrical needs can be placed on the construction plans.


  • Expensive labor costs and tenant inconvenience when installed after the construction phase (conduit needs to be run to, or through, every occupied and vacant unit);
  • Requires access to tenant spaces for servicing, risks an upset or no-show customer;
  • Rarely modular if you want to add more sensors later; conduit and wiring needs for existing wired sensors may not allow for easy additions; and
  • Maintenance costs are high if any door-alarm magnet is knocked out of alignment or security wiring breaks.


  • Easy installation and maintenance; sensors can be added to the outside of unit doors whether occupied or vacant without requiring access into the tenant's unit;
  • Completely modular; a manager or owner can easily add a new sensor to any unit;
  • Less expensive than wired systems when retrofitting an existing facility;
  • Available in two formats, narrow band and 900 MHz, to accommodate a wide range of construction and site layouts;
  • Provides a visible crime deterrent;
  • Can be rented to tenants on a unit-by-unit basis;
  • Magnets are outside of the unit and cannot be knocked out of alignment.


  • Wireless sensors require battery replacements, costing time and materials;
  • Tendency toward a one-size-fits-all mentality; and
  • Expansive sites may require repeaters to increase coverage area, which can require extra electrical outlets in specific locations.

Access Controls

Sirens and False Alarms

Security Controllers

Video Cameras

Site Graphics

Motion Sensors

Protecting Your Protection

  • Bollards, or crash posts, should be mandatory protection for any keypads in the path of vehicular traffic. A 4-foot-high-by-4-inch-thick concrete-filled pipe is the industry standard. Paint them in a neon color, mount reflectors or use reflection tape so they can be easily seen at night. If your company colors are bright, consider using those on the bollards.
  • Mount security cameras close to the roofline, high and out of the way of potential vandals. Vulnerable exterior access doors should have two security cameras placed at opposite sides of the door for protection. Any person trying to tamper with one camera will be seen by the other.
  • Never mount or run anything into or through a tenant's space. Tenants have a way of finding very creative ways to utilize your security equipment and wiring. Recently, I saw rows of clothing hanging from alarm conduit. The tenants desire for storage efficiency resulted in a failure in the wired door security of the nearby units. This was an expensive, and avoidable, service call.
  • Ground everything. Outside equipment will be subjected to all kinds of weather, including lightning. A good equipment ground will significantly reduce the possibility of equipment damage and tenant injury. Although no amount of grounding can provide 100 percent protection from lightning damage, equipment that uses optical-isolation surge protection will provide the greatest chance of survival for your security investment.
  • No matter which system or vendor you choose, maintenance is a fact of life. Ask your security vendor or GC to define which parts of your security will be within tenant units, under pavement, within walls or other inaccessible areas. Each area that cannot be reached will dramatically increase your costs should those sections ever need servicing.

Tony Gardner is director of security installation for QuikStor Security & Software, based in Sherman Oaks, Calif. He specializes in commercial and industrial security. For more information, visit

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