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Building Climate Controlled Self Storage

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful!Let It Snow

Winter weather has self-storage building owners and their customers thinking about Climate Controlled Self Storage. 

Climate Controlled Self Storage generates additional revenue for Self Storage Businesses. Here are the top 15 things you need to know to maximize efficiencies and reduce operating costs. 

  1. Insulate, insulate, insulate.  This is the most cost effective way to keep temperatures and humidity at optimal levelsSaving a few dollars on inadequate insulation will be lost to increased air conditioning costs. Use a minimum of 6 inches of fiberglass (R 19) for roofs and walls. The building’s heat loss and gain is determined by calculating insulation values, ceiling heights, cubic area, type of construction, amount of lighting, exterior doors, number of windows and the air infiltration from outside. Insulation in your climate-controlled facilities will easily pay for itself.

  2. Multi-story Climate Controlled Self Storage sites allow the air-conditioning load to be evenly divided between the first and second floor. A lot of heat comes through the first-floor during warm months while the second floor gains heat from the roof. These tend to balance out, but the second floor may need a little more air conditioning. When building three or more stories, the middle floors require 25 percent less air conditioning because the cooled air spreads through several floors of the building.

  3. To meet today’s demand for climate-controlled self-storage, many multi-property owners are building nearly 100 percent climate-controlled properties. With rising land costs, some Self Storage Building owners are adding up 12 floors. Climate control demands higher rents and can justify increased construction costs. Some multi-story self-storage facilities are designed to look like office buildings, making them easier to gain code approvals.

  4. Keep it indoors. Often climate control self-storage facilities are designed with non-insulated units around the perimeter and insulated units in the center. The reason for this is that roll up doors are inherently difficult to insulate adequately.

  5. If your climate is extreme, you may NOT want to put equipment, like the heat pump, condenser or AC unit outdoors. Note that if you choose to install this equipment inside, you must pipe out the condensate or install dryers to evaporate the condensate.

  6. Determine the size of air-conditioning units required for your facility. For homes or offices, 450 to 600 square feet per ton of air conditioning is considered desirable, but climate controlled self-storage requires 1,250 to 1,600 square feet per ton. Research the efficiencies of heating and cooling units to determine what best suits your site. Lower-priced units with higher operational costs and less efficiency is one option. Another is to pick high-efficiency units that will cost less to operate and save money over the long term.

  7. Controlling humidity is as important as controlling temperature. Some areas of the country, such as the west coast, may not experience extremely high temperatures but could need a dehumidification device. Traditional box-unit dehumidifiers don’t always lower humidity levels evenly throughout the building. The HVAC system should have a separate humidistat to control the operation of reducing humidity. On high-efficiency units, a circulating fan should run continuously to circulate the air throughout the entire building.

  8. Use fewer entrances to control dust, dirt and unwanted guests.  Air conditioning helps prevent humidity with its resulting mold, mildew and deterioration. It also protects stored objects from dust and dirt. Reducing the number of entrances to your climate-controlled units will help to reduce the amount of dust and dirt that can get into the units. Fewer entrances will also keep bugs, spiders and rodents from gaining access to the units.

  9. Use a double door system to maintain consistent temperatures and humidity. If your facility is in an area with extreme weather, consider using a double door system or an air curtain, which consists of vertical, heavy thickness, blinds that hang over our entrances/exits. These are just like the ones used at grocery stores or warehouses for cold storage.

  10. Install registers to control airflow. When you install your main trunk lines of ducting, install registers that allow for opening and closing of vanes to control airflow. By installing registers, you can restrict the airflow in some areas and increase the flow in others. This is especially important in wide halls or around entry/exit doors.

  11. Design your Climate Control Self Storage for optimal air circulation. Hold your partitions down about 16-24" from your roofline and use hat channel bars installed horizontally to allow for better air circulation.

  12. Set temperatures to protect your customers’ contents but also to keep your costs down. Many self-storage operators think that they need to maintain 68 to 72 degrees in their climate controlled self storage units, regardless of the season. Setting temperatures to this narrow range is not only unnecessary, it can be costly.  Generally, climate controlled self-storage should maintain temperatures below 90 degrees in summer and above 40 degrees in the winter with humidity below 60 percent to prevent mold and mildew. When summer temperatures soar above 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity, a storage facility set at 80 degrees with 60 percent humidity feels like a cool oasis.

  13. Install a programmable thermostat that turns the system on and off during certain times of the day. It is not necessary to keep temperatures optimized at night, when there is less activity, as during the day. It also makes sense to install electronic temperature monitors through out the climate-controlled building. You will be able to quickly tell if a tenant has propped an exterior door open by noting by the temperature drop or increase from the monitor in the office.

  14. Eliminating short cycling lowers humidity to acceptable levels, saves on operating costs and lengthens the system’s lifespan.  When it comes to Climate Controlled Self Storage, we know that controlling humidity is as important as controlling temperature. As a building is filled with tenants’ goods, the cubic feet of free air space is reduced significantly, creating less of a draw on the air-conditioning system. When temperatures are set for 72 degrees, air-conditioning units cycle on and off with little effect on humidity. The short cycling is costly and should be avoided. Instead, run your air conditioning continuously to keep humidity at 60 or 65 percent.

  15. Save money on lighting.  Install motion-sensing lighting so that lights are activated only when motion is detected. This helps save energy. LED lighting in your hallways will also reduce operating costs.

Climate Control benefits customers by keeping their valuables free of mold and mildew and in the same condition as when they were first stored them. To protect their belongings, tenants are typically willing to pay 15 to 35 percent or more than for conventional self storage units.

While costs for building climate control storage are higher than conventional storage, operating HVAC systems is seldom more than 2.5 cents per square foot per month, making climate control a good revenue-generator for your self-storage business.

For more ideas about how you can plan to profit in 2013, read more…

MakoRabco is the Leading Self Storage Building Supplier. Founded in 1993, we’ve build our business by focusing, not just on building quality self-storage buildings, but on building solid relationships with our customers and vendors. Over the past 20 years, MakoRabco has been involved in the engineering and construction of thousands of Self Storage facilities across the country and has maintained the same mission statement from day one; to treat our customers like family and our vendors like friends.

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