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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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©2024 by the Self Storage Association (SSA). SSA and SSA Magazine are trademarks of the Self Storage Association, Inc. Opinions expressed by authors and other contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the SSA, publisher or editors, nor do they represent the policy or positions of the SSA. Information contained within articles should not be construed as the primary basis for legal or investment decisions.


Data Spotlight: Climate Control

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Data Spotlight: Climate Control

Cheryl Guenther is burning up. “It’s been triple digits all summer,” she said, “and it feels hotter every year.” Cheryl manages the Statewide Mini-Storage facility in Barstow, California — which does not have climate-controlled units. More on her situation in a moment.

First, the big picture: Industry data about climate-controlled units shows interesting demand characteristics as well as varying distribution around the U.S. It also raises some intriguing questions.

For example: Is climate control a need or a preference? Does a renter opt for a climate-controlled unit because he’s storing items with sentimental value, which wouldn’t look so good covered in mold or mildew — like his son’s old cockroach collection lovingly pinned to a foam-core board for that fifth-grade science fair display? Or do renters simply want to avoid working up a sweat while moving items in or around their unit? And does offering climate-controlled units attract business or not?

The 2013 Self Storage Demand Study reveals that the words “climate control” can mean different things to different people. The survey for the Demand Study asked questions about humidity control, air conditioning and heating. The Study reported that 45% of customers ranked humidity control as very important, while fewer viewed air conditioning (34.5%) and heating (26.2%) as high-priority.

However, there was plenty of regional variation around the U.S. Humidity control ranked among the top half of what renters sought in the South, Northeast and Midwest, but in the bottom half of what customers wanted in the West. Air conditioning and heating ranked lower than humidity control.

Here is a snapshot of those numbers:






Humidity control

48% (25% would pay extra)

44% (26% would pay extra)

44% (18% would pay extra)

42% (13% would pay extra)

Air conditioning

44% (24% would pay extra)

27% (11% would pay extra)

28% (14% would pay extra)

Not listed


28% (11% would pay extra)

27% (11% would pay extra)

27% (14% would pay extra)

Not listed

In toasty Barstow, Cheryl Guenther said about a quarter of her customers ask about the availability of climate-controlled units. She believes some want it because they’re storing items that would keep better out of the heat, while others simply want to be cool when they’re moving things in or around their unit.

The situation is different for Jennifer Thompson, manager of A-Cool Self Storage in Mobile, Alabama. “Down here, climate control is a need,” she said. “Our climate-controlled units always fill up first.”

In Mobile, both heat and humidity can be factors. Thompson said most of her climate-control renters are storing pictures, antiques, clothing, bedding — things that don’t fare well when exposed to humidity. But she believes the personal-comfort factor also motivates some of her climate-control customers.

The percentage of facility offering climate-controlled units has increased pretty steadily since 1980, according to REIS data.



Before 1980


1980 – 1989


1990 – 1999


2000 – 2009




The REIS data shows regional variations in the percentage of facilities offering climate-controlled units (note that these regions are defined differently than in the Demand Study):

  • Midwest: 52.9%
  • Northeast: 67.2%
  • South Atlantic: 72%
  • Southwest: 64.1%
  • West: 33.4%
  • U.S. National: 54.9%

The size of a facility reveals differences in how many offer climate-controlled units as well. There is some correlation between facility size and the percentage of facilities with climate-controlled units.



1 – 200


201 – 400


401 – 600


601 – 800




“It’s important to remember that this research gives us an aggregate view,” said George Leon, Ph.D., senior vice president at NAXION, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and author of the 2013 Self Storage Demand Study for SSA.

“You can’t ask every question you want to,” Leon explained. “Some features might be extremely important to a minority of people. And each customer weighs certain features differently. What if a facility didn’t’t have climate control, but there was one 15 miles away, or one that cost a lot more? One customer might settle for not having it, if it’s just a preference, but another customer might drive those 15 miles or pay extra if he really needs it.”

He noted that it’s important to keep the data fresh. “Renters’ requirements change over time,” he said, “so climate control might be more or less important now than other features. We’re always looking back in time. Today’s renters might have very different needs.”

SSA is gearing up for an update of the Demand Study. So, stay tuned for new data that could heat up future interest in climate-controlled units.

| Categories: Industry Data | Tags: Data | View Count: (5535) | Return
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