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Planning Your Self-Storage Security Budget

By Christine DeBord Comments

All too often we hear about break-ins and theft at self-storage facilities across the country. The sad fact is vandalism, arson and theft from tailgating are easily avoidable problems when proper security precautions are taken from the start. That’s why it’s so important to plan and budget for a robust security system long before your first rental.

PTI-Security-Systems-self-storage***Access-control systems, video surveillance, fire-detection systems and automated gates are more often the last products to be installed at a new site. We frequently see the funds for these items slashed because construction expenses have gone over limit in other areas. While the desire to remain on budget is understandable, cutting corners when it comes to your security system is costly in the long run.

Below are some general guidelines to ensure your security budget stays on track. Keep in mind every site’s needs are unique—these numbers are mere estimates and may not account for all of your facility’s requirements. It’s important to talk to a trained security and access-control professional prior to setting your final budget. A general rule of thumb is your security spend should be 3 percent to 5 percent of your overall construction budget.  

Keypads, Intercoms, Stands and Other Access-Control Hardware

Budget: $7,700-$30,000 per system, installed

Rule of thumb: You’ll want a keypad at every entry point, exit, door and elevator door.

At a minimum, each site’s security system should include an entry and exit keypad with intercoms, stands and a controller. Most multi-story, premium facilities will have 10 to15 keypads with intercoms, pin-hole cameras and card readers. Those premium facilities generally have an access-control hardware budget that falls on the higher end of this range. Smaller facilities with less amenities are likely to fall on the lower end.  

Video Surveillance and Monitors

Budget: $300-$400 per camera, installed

Rule of thumb: Place cameras at all entry points, the management office and any other areas of importance.

This range should cover the cost of the camera and installation. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for more sophisticated technology, such as cameras that monitor temperature or read license plates, you should expect to pay more.  

Gate and Gate Operator

Budget: $8,500-$35,000 per gate and operator, installed

Rule of thumb: An automated-sliding gate and operator are typically the most expensive, while a swing gate and operator generally cost less.

It’s important to talk to an automated-gate specialist to ensure your selection is the right choice for your facility layout. Since there are so many types of gates and operators on the market, your cost can vary greatly. 

Individual Door Alarms and Electronic Locks

Budget: $50-$250 per door, installed

Rule of thumb: Hardwired door alarms are the least expensive solution; wireless alarms fall somewhere in the middle; and electronic locking solutions are typically on the higher end of the price range.

We’re seeing more door alarms and electronic locking/overlocking solutions in self-storage because it’s the only way to truly prevent theft from tailgating. There are a number of products on the market, so that’s why there’s such a large price variance.  

Security Software, Mobile Apps, Tech Support

Budget: $95-$150 per month, installed

Rule of thumb: It’ll cost more in the long run if you don’t pay for professional installation and support services.

Budget for security software that interacts with your management program to lock out past-due tenants and assign new tenant-access codes. You’ll also want to budget for premium features like mobile gate solutions and preferred technical support. If a tenant crashes into your keypad stand or gate, you’ll want to get back up and running quickly.

Don’t forget that fire detection and proper lighting are important pieces of your facility’s security system as well. Speak to a trained professional about those needs before setting your final budget.  

Christine DeBord manages the marketing and the reseller channel departments at PTI Security Systems, a provider of access-control and security systems for the self-storage industry. To contact her, call 404.649.5594; e-mail; visit


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