Blog / Self Storage

The Many Different Types of Storage Units

By Julia

13 May, 20245 mins read

When it comes to looking for a short or long-term storage space, self storage is often the first thing that comes to mind. However, did you know that there are many different types of self storage?

While you might picture rows upon rows of shipping containers, or an endless white corridor filled with numbered doors, storage units come in many different forms, each designed to meet specific needs. From personal belongings to heavy machinery, and vehicles to vintage wines, there’s a unit for pretty much everything.

In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of storage units and look at the pros and cons of each. Whether you need portable storage that can be moved from one location to another, a place to store your boat or a good old-fashioned shipping container, understanding the benefits of each storage type can help you decide on the perfect unit for your needs.

Indoor Storage Units

Indoor storage units are the most common type of self storage, serving as the cornerstone for many of the UK’s largest storage providers. These units are usually housed within large access-controlled storage centres and often come in a variety of different sizes, from compact units that will fit a few boxes to large spaces.


  • Enhanced Security: Being inside a building with restricted access may, in some cases, provide a higher level of security.
  • Variety of Sizes: Available in multiple sizes, it’s perfect for people who only need to store a few small items.


  • Limited Access: Most indoor storage facilities have specific opening hours.
  • No Drive-Up Access: Without drive-up access, loading and unloading can be more time-consuming and physically demanding — particularly if items need to be moved between floors.
  • More Expensive: The costs of running a storage centre (utilities, staff, maintenance etc.) quickly add up, which means indoor storage is often more expensive than outdoor options.

Outdoor Storage Units

Outdoor storage units offer straightforward, hassle-free access and are popular for both personal and business storage needs. Often (though not always) these outdoor units allow you to drive right up to the door for easy loading and unloading, making them ideal for those who need easy and regular access.

At Pay Less For Storage, all our self storage containers are outside and have drive-up access, which means you can easily load large and bulky items without navigating stairs, lifts and endless corridors.


  • Easy Drive-Up Access: Being able to park right outside the unit makes it easy to load and unload.
  • Ground Floor Units: With a unit on the ground floor, you can save time and effort using stairs and lifts.
  • Large Sizes: Outdoor units are often large by default, which means you can store a little or a lot while keeping a space that can adapt to your needs.


  • Weather: It’s important to find a reputable provider to ensure your storage unit is well-maintained and will protect your belongings from adverse weather.
  • Not Climate-Controlled: If you’re storing particularly sensitive items, such as works of art, you’ll likely need a climate-controlled unit to ensure an optimum environment.
  • Vehicle Size Limitations: Some outdoor units may not accommodate large vehicles, which may limit certain uses.

Shipping Container Units

Made from durable steel, shipping container units are usually found outdoors (as they’re designed to withstand the harshest weather conditions), which means drive-up access often comes as standard. Shipping containers can also be retrofitted with shelves, lighting and locks to suit a variety of needs. It’s worth noting, however, that these units typically don’t come with climate control.


  • Durability: As they’re built to endure severe weather, shipping containers are incredibly waterproof, making them suitable for long-term outdoor use.
  • Cost-Effective: Container storage is often more affordable than traditional indoor storage solutions.
  • Customisable: Units can be modified with shelves and lights to meet specific storage needs.
  • Easy Access: At Pay Less For Storage, all our containers provide drive-up access.


  • Temperature Sensitivity: Without built-in climate control, the internal conditions can vary with severe weather.
  • Humidity: While shipping containers are waterproof, fluctuations in temperature may cause condensation. Make sure all of your items are completely dry before putting them in storage.

Climate-Controlled Units

Climate-Controlled Units

If you plan on storing items that are sensitive to temperature fluctuations and humidity, such as electronics, musical instruments, antiques, art and delicate clothing, climate-controlled storage units might be the way to go.

These units regulate the environment to protect your valuables from the adverse effects of extreme temperatures and moisture, making them excellent for anyone looking to store items that could fall prey to environmental conditions.


  • Optimal Protection: Maintains a stable environment to prevent extreme heat, cold and humidity.
  • Humidity Control: These units are designed to maintain ideal humidity levels, which is crucial for preserving sensitive materials like wood, fabric and paper from warping and growing mould.


  • Higher Cost: Due to the advanced technology required to regulate temperature and humidity, these units usually cost more than standard self storage.
  • Limited Availability: Not all facilities offer climate-controlled units and those that do may have limited availability.

Portable Storage

Portable storage containers, sometimes referred to as “pod storage”, are among the most flexible and convenient storage options. These containers can be delivered to you, making it easy to load and unload at your convenience. These are great if you’re moving home or simply need some extra space.


  • Flexibility: Whether you’re moving, redecorating or renovating, portable containers are both convenient and versatile.
  • Cost-Effective: Often more affordable than traditional moving services, you can save money by packing and unpacking yourself.
  • Convenient: Delivered to your door, these containers allow you to store items on-site and access them easily.


  • Space Requirements: You need plenty of space for the container, which means it’s likely to be unsuitable for anyone without a driveway or a large and accessible garden.
  • Advance Planning Needed: Due to growing demand and popularity, securing a portable storage container at the last minute could be difficult, so be sure to book ahead.
  • Limited Weekend Service: Not all providers operate on weekends, which could complicate scheduling if that’s the only time you’re available.

Collection Storage

Rather than simply offering a space to store your items, collection storage, also known as “box storage”, takes a more hands-on approach. With this service, a provider will not only store your items but also collect them from your address and deliver them back to you, at your request.

All you have to do is pack up your boxes and the provider will take care of the rest. This hassle-free solution offers unparalleled convenience for those seeking more efficient storage.


  • Convenience: Ideal for those with limited time and/or no mode of transport.
  • Space Efficiency: Perfect for decluttering without having to get rid of anything permanently.
  • Managed Inventory: Some services offer digital inventories that allow you to manage and request specific boxes and items as needed.


  • Higher Cost: With a premium service comes a premium price.
  • Scheduling Required: Retrieving items requires planning and coordination with the storage provider, which probably isn’t as fast as going to a storage unit yourself.
  • Limited by Box Size: Items must fit within the provided boxes, which can restrict the size and the type of items you’re able to store.

Vehicle Storage Units

Vehicle storage units are ideal for anyone needing to store cars, vans, jet skis, campervans and anything else that gets you from A to B. Whether you’re a seasonal biker or need to store commercial vehicles like company cars and construction vehicles, vehicle storage units are perfect.


  • Extra Space at Home: Free up your garage or driveway by moving seldom-used vehicles to a storage unit.
  • Increased Security: Many facilities offer 24-hour CCTV surveillance and controlled access, ensuring your vehicle is protected from theft.


  • Limited Availability: Not all storage providers offer specialist vehicle storage
  • Protection Requirements: For outdoor storage, you might consider additional covers for your vehicle to provide increased protection from the elements.
  • Variable Costs: The cost of vehicle storage can vary significantly based on location, type of storage (indoor or outdoor) and additional security measures.

Boat Storage

Boat storage provides the perfect solution for sailors looking to protect their vessels during the off-season. Whether you have limited space at home or are looking to steer clear of expensive docking fees, boat storage facilities will often provide both indoor and outdoor options to keep your boat safe and secure.


  • Frees Up Space: Storing your boat at a facility can help clear significant space at home.
  • Cost-Effective: Boat storage offers a budget-friendly alternative to docks.
  • Security: Enhanced security can help protect your boat from theft and vandalism.


  • Limited Availability: Not all storage facilities offer boat storage.
  • Additional Protection: For outdoor storage, it’s worth getting your own cover to safeguard against environmental conditions.
  • Seasonal Access: Some facilities may only offer limited access during off-peak seasons.

Lockup Garage Units

A lockup garage is a great budget-friendly storage space, provided that you’re not storing anything that’s particularly valuable or sensitive to environmental conditions. They are really useful for anyone seeking a simple storage solution but are generally less secure than professionally managed sites.


  • Cost-Effective: Generally more affordable than self storage centres.
  • Easy Access: Users will usually benefit from easy and direct access to their units at any time of day, making it easy to load and unload items as needed.


  • Limited Security: Security in lockup garages often depends solely on the lock, which could put valuable items at risk.
  • Vulnerable to Theft: The minimal security features can make lockups an easier target for thieves, especially if secured only with a basic padlock.
  • No Climate Control: These units are not climate-controlled, making them unsuitable for storing anything sensitive to temperature and humidity, such as antiques, electronics and important documents.

Wine Storage Units

If you’re a collector of fine wine, you’ll know that wine has very specific needs when it comes to long-term storage. Factors such as temperature, humidity, oxygen, light and even vibrations, can all affect the integrity of a bottle.

To ensure the quality of your collection is preserved and ages well, it’s important to find a suitable storage solution that can regulate every factor to provide an optimal environment.


  • Optimal Conditions: Wine storage units provide a controlled environment set to the ideal temperature and humidity for preserving wine.
  • Variety of Sizes: Available in multiple sizes, these units can accommodate collections ranging from a few cherished bottles to extensive arrays.
  • Safe from Elements: Protects against UV rays that can alter flavours and aromas, and vibrations that may disturb the sediment.


  • Limited Availability: As a specialist unit, finding professional wine storage near you may be difficult.
  • Additional Investment: Depending on your collection, you may need to invest in custom-built shelves to maximise space and ensure proper bottle orientation.
  • Cost: The advanced climate control needed to store wine often makes this type of storage more expensive than regular units.


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