Self Storage Units vs Container Storage

Self Storage | 11.02.22

The use of self storage units is becoming increasingly popular as more people are using them for various reasons. From household moves and decluttering projects to home improvement, business stock and even storing vehicles or caravans long term. The first question many folks ask is whether the self storage units are internal or external and in this post, we explain the key differences. This will also help you find the best unit for your specific needs or requirements.

What Are Self Storage Units?

Self storage is formally defined as a means of storing goods in a commercial indoor facility where the renter or customer has exclusive use of the storage space during a specified rental period.

Self storage units are almost always indoors but many facilities also provide external units with easy access and are better suited for larger items. Storage units are effectively individual storage rooms within a purpose-built or converted building.

The units on-site can either be small student storage lockers or a wide selection of different sized storage rooms from 10 sq ft to 200 sq ft. Some facilities offer 300 sq ft foot of space as standard or even larger.

Internal vs External Self Storage Units

The main difference between internal and external self storage units is self-explanatory. While internal storage units are inside the main building, external units are self-contained and typically surround the main building.

Internal storage units are inside a larger building which will often have a reception or office area and units along corridors. These range from smaller lockers for a few items and valuables to larger units to safely keep household contents when moving, downsizing or doing renovations.

External self storage units are placed outside where users can access them by driving or walking. These units tend to be larger and available in a range of different sizes and colours. They also have features such as drop-down roller doors, lighting, smoke detector, alarm and a special lock and CCTV for added security.

Pros and Cons Of Internal Storage Units

Since internal storage units are generally located inside a large building, they are ideal for storing household items. The overall construction of internal self storage units is more robust and as they are inside, these units are typically safer and drier.

As good internal storage may be, there are some drawbacks when compared to external container storage. Since they have no windows, many people find it difficult to adjust psychologically to being surrounded by these closed-in spaces.

The biggest drawback is that internal self storage facilities often do not allow access outside normal trading hours which is a problem for those who work 9-5.

Pros and Cons Of External Self Storage Units

External self storage units are generally more affordable and the main advantages include better value for money, easy vehicle access and larger storage area. Even if you stack items, there is still plenty of height in the unit so even taller people can walk around inside without crouching or crawling.

However, there are also some disadvantages such as increased exposure to the elements which may cause damage over time. Since not all external storage units have heating, those storing cars or cycling equipment may have to store them inside the main building, especially during winter.

The choice of self storage units will largely depend on your needs as each type has its pros and cons. While some may benefit more from external self storage units, others may prefer internal for added security.

Components Of A Self Storage Facility

In the early days, many people saw external self storage units as standard storage containers placed at a specific site. However, modern external self storage units options have changed that concept entirely and brought it into the 21st century. Here is a breakdown of the components you will typically find at a storage facility:

  • Partition walls to create individual units and the corridors between them
  • Roller doors or swing doors, depending on the size of the storage unit
  • Staircases in larger self-storage facilities to access additional floors or to facilitate fire escape options
  • Mezzanine Floors
  • Extras features to add more storage space or to create a more pleasing aesthetic or professional atmosphere (kicker plates along the walls, and soffit to provide a decorative cover for features such as roof beams, piping or electrics.

Choosing The Right Storage Unit For You

When looking at self storage options, the first thing to consider is space. If you only have a small unit, it may be difficult to store items of different shapes and sizes unless you invest in mobile, rotating shelves. These are great for keeping things organised while adding more space without the need to fit shelves to the walls.

External self storage units are usually larger and better suited for storing bigger items such as vehicles or caravans. However, if you are planning on storing business documents, stock or other smaller items, many people prefer internal self storage units.

At Space Centre Self Storage, we take pride in delivering clean, dry, secure and affordable units at facilities in convenient locations in Bristol, Stroud, Gloucester and Stonehouse.

What Size Self Storage Unit Do I Need?

If you are looking for the perfect storage facility, both internal and external storage units have their place. To find the right storage facility for you, it is important to remember that you don’t need multiple storage units for all your household content. The moment everything is packed and ready for storage, you’ll be able to see more clearly how much space you need.

Another important factor is the height of the storage unit. We provide you with all the necessary information so you know how high you can go and what to expect. To help you visualise just how big our units are, we compare our units to van sizes. This gives you a great indication of the unit size and also how big, or how many loads, your goods will be.

Recommended: How To Maximise The Space In Your Storage Unit


As a business, self storage relies on convincing customers that they can trust the facility with their possessions. Sometimes, simply having strong corporate branding and a clean and well-maintained appearance can help boost this confidence tremendously. At Space Centre Self Storage, we not only have both types of units available but we also pride ourselves on cleanliness and efficiency.

To see why so many people choose us, why not visit one of our storage facilities in Bristol, Stroud, Gloucester and Stonehouse? While you’re in these beautiful areas, take some time to explore places like Gloucester Cathedral, the Clifton Suspension Bridge or Berkeley Castle.

If you’re looking for affordable self storage units, get in touch with us today. Our friendly, experienced staff are always happy to help in any way they can.

Not sure how much space you will need?

If you would like to talk to a member of staff about your requirements contact your local branch.

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