Indoor Access vs. Outdoor Access

By Patrick Galvan,

Location, pricing, unit size, amenities—when it comes to finding the best self storage option, your storage needs determine everything. In fact, your needs may also determine whether you’ll want indoor or outdoor storage access.

A storage unit with indoor access is inside a storage facility building. This means you can only get to your unit by entering the building with a keycard or entry code, walking down hallways, possibly going up a flight of stairs or taking an elevator (depending on the facility), and unlocking your unit. A storage unit with outdoor access, on the other hand, is an externally-facing locked unit at a facility that’s set up more like rows of garages. Facilities with outdoor access may have perimeter fencing and gated access, but not all will.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the differences between indoor-access and outdoor-access storage.

How Amenities Differ Between Indoor and Outdoor

The foremost advantage of using indoor-access storage is the number of amenities available to you. Indoor storage units often feature climate-controlled storage, which acts as a heater, air conditioner, and dehumidifier inside your unit to protect your items from damage caused by extreme temperatures and humidity. Few storage units with outdoor access will have climate control, so if you’re storing sensitive items like electronics, antiques, paper documents, fabrics, or musical instruments, you may want a storage unit with indoor access.

On the other hand, storage units with outdoor access are more convenient for unloading and loading items, as they typically have drive-up access. With drive-up access, you don’t have to carry heavy or awkward items through doors and hallways (or worse, up flights of stairs). Instead, you can pull a car or moving truck up to your unit and unload right there. This is especially useful for anyone who’s using self storage during a move or to store vehicles.

How Security Differs Between Indoor and Outdoor

Indoor-access storage provides security that most outdoor storage units can’t rival—being slightly more difficult to access. Since the unit is inside a facility and surrounded by walls, it’s harder for someone to break in to your unit, as they’d have to be able to get into the building and find your unit without being caught.

With outdoor-access storage, your unit is somewhat out in the open and visible to anyone on the property. Granted, if the facility has fencing and gated access, it makes it harder for someone to get to your unit. But simply because of their location, outdoor storage units don’t provide as much security. If, however, you want outdoor access and better security, some storage facilities offer more advanced protection, such as video surveillance, alarmed units, or on-site management, that can ward off potential vandals and thieves.

Vehicle Storage Means Outdoor Storage

Vehicles cannot be stored in a unit that’s within an indoor storage facility. Whether you’re storing a car, truck, motorcycle, boat, or RV, it has to be outdoor-access storage. That’s not to say you don’t have options for vehicle storage. You can rent an outdoor parking space (often the cheapest but not as protected), a covered parking space, or an outdoor-access storage unit (often the most expensive but better protected).

If you’re not sure what type of storage access is better for your storage needs, be sure to talk to a facility operator or manager to see what they’d recommend.