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Moving is a common source of stress, even when there is a great outcome. The processes of packing, transporting, and storing belongings safely are often the main cause of stress. Most people in the process of moving are often forced to store their valuables in self storage units for months at a time. Sometimes basements, attics, and garages fill up, leaving people with no other option but to move excess items to self storage units for safe storage.

It is estimated that over 12.5 million households in the U.S. lease these self storage units and most pay more for additional square footage.  The sector has been growing 7% annually since 2012 and the demand for this secure storage option is on the rise, meaning that more and more storage units are being built. This increase in demand is partly caused by the hoarding of household goods and the dynamic changes in relationships that have brought about more separations and an increased need to change residences.

As the sector grows in size, a lot of new projects are being carried out to keep up with the demand. If you’re a self storage unit owner, upgrading your lighting system for energy efficiency and appeal should be top of your list. Quality lighting will help you to meet your customer's needs better and make your units more cost-efficient.

How to Make a Self Storage Unit Energy-Efficient

1.      Get Rid of Inefficient Light Fixtures

HID Light Bulbs Image

Older storage facilities – those that were built in the 60s – were less consumer-oriented than those available today. Most utilized wall-packs, and for light control, each had a spring wound timer. The most common traditional light sources for storage units are fluorescents and metal halides.

Metal halide lamps are gas discharge bulbs that discharge an electric arc via a gaseous mix. These bulbs utilize halides such as bromides or iodides from metals combined with argon and mercury vapor to produce intense, bright light.

Metal halides have many lighting deficiencies compared to energy-efficient LED self storage unit lighting. For one, they have a lengthy warm-up period, the longest of any light bulb on the market.

Most of them will actually take fifteen to twenty minutes to attain their optimum operating temperature. This means that these lights are often kept on longer than required since they cannot be turned on and off on demand.

And while metal halides produce bright light, the average metal halide lamp has a life expectancy of 6,000 to 15,000 hours. If you integrate light control measures such as dimmers, you may adversely affect their already short lamp lives. The interesting thing is that some metal halide lamps cost almost as much as LED self storage unit lights.

Yet, despite their high cost, you will still need to spend money on replacement bulbs and maintenance as you would with other metal halides. Quality LEDs, on the other hand, have a life expectancy of 100,000 hours. If they are used for 12 hours each day, they will serve effectively for 10 years or more.

Metal halide lamps also disperse their light in a multidirectional design. Light sent in all parts of self storage units (in a 360-degree arc) is not effective. A considerable chunk of this light is lost to the environment and the light is not focused.

The system inefficiency inherent in HID bulbs means that reflectors must be used to ensure better light production. In residential areas, the light sent upwards to the sky often becomes a nuisance, causing light pollution.

Fluorescent lamps may produce bright light, but they also use reflectors to redirect light and have a buzzing sound, especially those with magnetic ballasts. The ballasts are also the cause of the flickering, one of the biggest downsides of fluorescents.

2.      Reduce Light Pollution

Statistics in the U.S. show that in every 20 people, at least 19 of them are adversely affected by light pollution. In fact, 2/3 of Americans inhabit cities and towns where the Milky Way is wholly obscured at night due to light pollution. This is quite a sad fact if you consider the fact that light pollution is caused by misdirected or wasted light. Wasted light eventually results in high energy costs and sleep disturbances.

To further illustrate the effect of light pollution, in August 2003, there was a massive power grid failure that enveloped the region of New York City to Ontario. During the blackout, most of the dwellers of these regions reported seeing something they had not seen before: a sky filled with stars spanning one horizon to the other! And then the lights came back.

Light pollution presents itself as either:

  • Sky glow, which is light dispersed to the sky at night causing a glow over suburban and urban locations. It is the most recognizable result of light pollution and is estimated to cost the U.S. $5 to $10 billion annually in wasted energy costs. As urbanization takes root in the evolution of the human habitat, these costs will only go up – unless mitigated.
  • Glare, which often manifests as light directed at drivers’ eyes at night or at pedestrians as they walk past light fixtures. It is quite unfortunate that lights installed and paid for to aid better vision at night can actually cause the hindrance of it. Poorly thought out outdoor fixtures that bring about excessive contrast between dark and bright locations become a road safety hazard and cause accidents to pedestrians and vehicles as well.
  • Light trespass, which is light that illuminates neighboring properties. Since it trespasses, it is by all means unwanted. While a sky glow robs you of star-filled skies, light trespass robs you of your peace of mind and sleep. Light pollution does not just affect the human circadian rhythm, it also affects other living organisms. Scientists have reported that insects, sea turtles, and even plants are all succumbing to this excess, misdirected light.

To prevent the negative effects of light pollution, a self storage facility has to address these three aspects of lighting:

  • The amount of light
  • The shielding of fixtures
  • The spectrum of the lamps

In the lighting industry, it is common knowledge that multidirectional lamps – such as HID lamps –that are poorly shielded will cause over-lighting and light pollution. Light color as a precursor to light pollution is also less understood, and for years, many codes of lighting have not broached the subject.

Research, however, shows that white light dispersed from multidirectional bulbs is responsible for most extreme cases of light pollution, if the light fixtures are not fully shielded. Studies have shown that white 4100 CCT metal halide lights cause more pollution of light than other light sources.

Metal halides, LEDs, and fluorescent bulbs all emit white light. But LED self storage unit lighting is superior because of its highly tunable nature. By tuning the color of white light sources to warmer color tones, the effect of light trespass and sky glow will be significantly reduced.

Using fully cutoff outdoor light fixtures that send all the light produced downwards can also help mitigate the effects of light pollution. For older light bulbs such as fluorescents and metal halide self storage lights, this is an absolute necessity.

With HID light sources, light has to be controlled to make them less hazardous to flora and fauna at night and to increase their lighting efficiency as well. Once the light is controlled, then less light fixtures and less wattage will be required to light up a storage facility.

Fortunately, LEDs are directional light sources and send their light to the target areas for illumination. Since their light is focused and intense, you will need fewer units to light up your facility adequately. LED HID Retrofit bulbs also utilize less wattage to produce the same amount of light as older lighting fixtures.

3.      Use High-Quality Light Sources

The correlated color temperature (CCT) and the color rendering index (CRI) value of a light source dramatically impact the quality of light it produces.


CRI is a gauge of the light’s prowess in revealing the real hues of items compared to ideal light sources. The higher the CRI, the better the light quality. However, it is worth noting that some applications need lights with extremely high CRIs.

LED Color Rendering Index (CRI)

If you want to sufficiently illuminate self storage units so that the colors of the items in them are clearly visible, then high-CRI lights are an absolute necessity. Storage units hold various types of items and are not very spacious. If they are not well-lit, people will find it difficult to locate their items – and you may not get repeat business.

However, high-quality light sources with fantastic CRI values – such as LED self storage unit lights –can make things easier for the tenants. Most LEDs have CRI values of above 75 and generate light which is almost comparable to daylight. Traditional bulbs have lower CRI values, the worst being the HPS bulb that produces yellow light and gives everything a yellow hue.


The CCT of a light bulb describes its color temperature. The Kelvin scale is used for this purpose. Color temperatures can be neutral, warm, or cool. Warm color tones have the lowest CCTs and usually range from oranges to yellows. Cool color temperatures have higher CCTs and range from whites to blues. Neutrals are in between and are white, just like the sun's light at midday on a cloudless day.

It might come as a surprise to you that light color is an essential consideration for a self storage facility. But here’s the thing, many storage units have a cuboid or rectangular shape and have no source of light in them. If there’s light, it is usually limited so when a person goes in, they often have to grope about in dimly-lit conditions or carry an extra source of light. If the object they are looking for is tiny or is hidden under boxes or layers of items, locating it can be an uphill task.

In storage units where visibility is an issue, most tenants carry portable light sources with plug-in adapters for the sockets and run them on your power, increasing not only your energy bill but the risk of destructive and dangerous fires as well. 

Color-tunable LED self storage unit lights not only decrease energy use but also provide different lighting ambiances. With LED lights, storage units can have neutral, warm, or cool light that enhances visibility and helps cut down light pollution. These lights can be tuned according to seasons or time of day.

LED lights paired with light control features allow for color tunability to any CCT desired, offering more color flexibility than other light technologies on the market. The daylight-like light produced by LED self storage unit lighting is perfect for the interiors of self storage units since it is optimized for visual acuity and productivity.

In late night hours, outdoor LED lights can be tuned to warmer color tones if they are adjacent to residential spaces. If their CCT is high, they will generate more blue light and are bound to adversely affect the sleeping cycles of those living close to the facility.

Color Temperature Graphic

4.      Use Energy-Efficient Light Sources

As the standard of living goes high and the effects of the economic recession take their due course, one survival tactic for most homeowners has been paring down in order to cope better. And as more and more people embrace living with less, they are beginning to realize that they have more possessions than they need to get by in smaller living spaces.

For this reason, storage facilities have become more popular. The modern life has also played a big role in increasing the popularity of self storage units. More and more relationships are falling apart and with separations and divorce comes the need for self storage spaces as people contemplate on their next move. Most people derive a lot of satisfaction from the knowledge that their cherished possessions are in a safe place till the time they will need them.

A self storage facility owner has the obligation to provide both safety and security in his facility to prevent the loss, damage, or theft of valued personal items. High-quality lighting goes a long way toward providing safety. However, it’s paramount that the lighting be cost-effective.

The energy efficiency of light sources – or the lack of it – can impact your bottom line. Using the same lights you’ve used for years is not an option because as newer and more user-friendly self storage facilities are built, customers will move to them – as they are better-lit and protected.

Good lighting and security go hand in hand, and it is a feature that most of your potential clients will look for before coming to a decision to rent your facility. Poorly lit facilities give off a feeling of insecurity and may drive away many would-be clients. Poor lighting is also a huge catalyst for criminal activities. Thieves and vandals are more likely to break into facilities that are not well illuminated.

If a storage facility is well-lit, it will deter vandals and thieves. They will steer clear of it because of the bright lights and the security features that will capture their criminal activities. The good light will allow surveillance cameras to function optimally.

If your storage facility is well-lit, you may get more from your insurance company if you file a claim and will worry less about liability if a crime takes place. Every insurance underwriter will turn their back on your claim if your dimly-lit facility becomes a target. High-quality lighting is one of the keys to lower insurance rates.

LED Diodes Image

In some cases, self storage facility owners have unmanned facilities to lessen running costs. Unmanned business premises are very reliant on high-quality lighting and security features. If the light system is inefficient, you may be forced to charge low rates as charging high rates makes the facility less attractive to renters.

5.      Use Light Control Features

The pairing of extra features with LED lights – such as photo controls, dimmers, or occupancy sensors – can help a storage facility to save more power. Occupancy sensors installed in shared spaces, elevator bays, or hallways can conserve power during late night hours when the traffic to and from the facility is low.

They can also help cut down power usage at different times of the month. Most managers report that human traffic is usually higher in their facilities at the end and at the beginning of the month and lower on regular days.

Sensors can be used to prevent the wastage of energy when the facility is less busy and help reveal the facility's usage trends as well. The parking lot LED fixtures can be enhanced with photo controls to ensure maximum power efficiency.

Types of Light Control Systems

Wireless Systems

These utilize radio frequencies, infrared, or Wi-Fi technology to weave switches, dimmers, keypads, and lighting control peripherals into one unit. They use minimal wiring and are so versatile that they can combine easily with smartphones, allowing you to manage your lighting system remotely.

Centralized Systems

Every circuit on these lighting systems runs from a central control point. The controller has a keypad or controller to help them manipulate and adjust lighting settings as necessary. There is a processor that runs the whole system. These systems are perfect for extensive facilities.

Hybrid Systems

  • These systems have both centralized control and wireless features in one integrated system.

Types of Lighting Controls

Occupancy Sensors

These light control features sense human traffic in the self storage facility and automatically light up the fixtures in the vicinity. The sensors also automatically switch off or dim the lights once the users have vacated the area.

Motion Sensors

These are perfect for outdoor and security lights that only need to be on for short periods at a time. They utilize ultrasonic sensing to track movements in and around the storage space.

Photocell Light Sensors

These control features sense the natural light levels in an area and regulate the light output. They are usually paired with outdoor security lights.

Preset Controls

  • These have sliders and switches and put the light adjustment capability in your hands. You can use the preset controls or adjust them as you see fit.

With these controls in place, your facility can easily reduce energy costs by up to 75%. These intelligent sensors will track movement, ambient light, and temperature and feed this vital data to your light control system. They will help lower the cooling costs and ensure the HVAC system is more efficient. The light fixtures will enjoy a longer lifespan as well.

The High Costs of Traditional Self Storage Facility Lighting

While doing research for this post, we visited a forum for self storage unit managers and noticed one thing, those who utilize traditional light bulbs in their facilities decry the high electricity costs. For example, there is a storage property manager using 27 metal halide wall-packs who is shocked by his facility’s $400 electric bill.

Another manager from Shreveport, LA, gets extremely high electric monthly bills: a massive $3000. These have forced him to increase his rental rates. His facility is climate controlled and its five large-scale 20-ton HVAC systems work nonstop to create an attractive environment for his clients. The facility has at least 30 wall-pack light fixtures and almost 20 exterior parking lot light fixtures. Indoors, there are 400 8ft fluorescent tubes that internally light up the storage units.

Another member is at his wits’ end dealing with a $1300-$1600 energy bill every month. His facility has fluorescent tubes in the hallways that provide white light for a crisp white look, and they have timers to minimize electricity usage. The outdoor conventional wall-pack lights have step dimmers, but the electric power bill hardly falls below the $675 mark.

One of the more knowledgeable moderators on the forum did the math to better explain why older inefficient light fixtures use up so much energy. Using 100-watt metal halide bulbs (at the time of the above discussion) cost around $0.15 for every 1000 watts spent in an hour. 

A 100-watt metal halide bulb would therefore cost a facility $0.015 each hour it is in operation. So long as the lights are on from dusk to dawn, each 100-watt metal halide light would consume $5.40 each month.

This discussion took place a few years back, and times have changed. Today, the energy costs have gone up, and it is becoming more and more uneconomical to use metal halide, fluorescent, or sodium vapor lamps.

Saving Money with LED Image

Why LED Self Storage Unit Lights Are the Solution

LED self storage unit lights are made from compound semiconductor materials, comprised of elements from 2 groups on the periodic table: group III and group V. The group III-V elements commonly used to manufacture LEDs are gallium phosphide (GaP), gallium arsenide (GaAs), aluminum gallium indium phosphide (AlGaInP), and indium gallium nitride (InGaN). Once an electric current is passed through the semiconductive materials, the LEDs emit light.

LED self storage unit lights are recommended for many reasons. For starters, they do not have any oxidative processes like metal halide, HPS, or fluorescent bulbs and therefore are very energy- efficient. They have an incredibly long lifespan and outlast all other sources of light by many years. When you install LEDs, your self storage facility’s relamping and maintenance costs will significantly go down.

These light sources also do not have breakable glass casings that could shatter on impact. They are really small and can be designed into various shapes to fit any lighting need.

The energy efficiency of these lights stems from the fact that they remain cooler than all other light sources as they operate. HID light bulbs have heated gases that have to vaporize for the production of light. They have ballasts that help them to start and also help keep their current balanced during their operation. These ballasts utilize extra electricity besides that used by HID lamps.

One bad quality of HID light sources is their production of heat, and in the case of metal halide lamps, this heat can be a health and safety concern in an enclosed space. When a metal halide lamp attains full light output, it can reach high temperatures of up to 2000° Fahrenheit.

Its internal vapor pressure will also reach highs of up to 90 pounds for each square inch. The lamp’s design mechanism makes it almost impossible to shut it on and off on demand. The massive amounts of heat HIDs produce is lost to the environment, dispersed to areas where it isn’t needed. Because of this, they can never be as efficient as LED storage unit lighting.

The Effect of Heat on HVAC Systems

This massive heat is what strains the HVAC systems in self storage units. They have to work overtime to counteract the heat produced and strive to create an attractive internal environment for the storage facility's users.

The HID light sources themselves are not spared. They are adversely affected by the heat produced by their internal mechanisms. Their outer glass casings as well as their inner filaments will deteriorate and break with time. If they break, the heated fragments dispersed could accidentally fall on your tenants or on combustible items, burning down your clients’ precious items. Research actually shows that millions of dollars have been lost to fires started by metal halide light fixtures.

HID and fluorescent light sources also produce UV rays. Bulbs placed in the storage units produce UV rays that could negatively affect some of the items stored. And as the glass fixtures of these lamps deteriorate, they could crack, emitting UV radiation that could inflict burns or irritation on the skin or cause other serious medical conditions.

The Benefits of LED Self Storage Unit Lighting

Less Electricity

Because LED self-storage unit lights produce very little heat, they use less electricity in the long run. Most of the energy they pull is converted into light; they don’t waste light as conventional light sources. As long as you have LED lights running in your units, your HVAC system will utilize less electricity because there is less heat generated in the space.

High CRI Value

LEDs also produce light that has a daylight-quality to it, attracting more people to your business. Because they possess very high CRI values, the units will have a fantastic light. Your renters will not need to plug in other lighting tools, increasing your bill and the chances of fire hazards.

Enhance Safety and Security

Some LED self storage unit lights have diffusers and beams and get rid of dark spots and shadows in storage units – for the benefit of the users. They help enhance both safety and security as the environment is uniformly lit.

Compatible With Light Control Tools

LEDs have no extensive warm up or cool down periods and can be turned off or on as needed, something that makes them very compatible with light control tools.

A Case Study on the Energy Efficiency of LED Lights

The Stanwood Self Storage Facility, founded in 1991 by the Starkenburg family, offers storage units for professional and personal property. The 80,000 sq. ft. space houses over 500 self storage units in a 6-acre facility.



As time went by, the proprietors noticed one thing: the outdated outdoor lights were becoming too expensive to maintain and were also a source of concern for the users due to their low-quality light and constant downtimes, thanks to the short lifespan of traditional bulbs.




The facility had over 34, 175-watt HID lamps at a time. It was constantly affected by lamp failure issues and the lights would quickly degrade, rendering colors very poorly as they aged. In the span of 1 month, the facility paid $1,100 for its power bill.



Wade Starkenburg realized that the lights were inefficient, and after much consideration, settled on LED technology. The establishment replaced its older 175-watt HID lamps with 48-watt LED self storage unit lights that will give the facility at least 20 years of maintenance-free operations. The LED lights have aluminum casings for durability and will work optimally in varying temperatures ranging from lows of -40°C to highs of 50°C

The lights have been configured to give off clean, bright light and the lighting bill has been slashed by 65%. The light fixtures have also paid for themselves in a year thanks to rebates received from the local utility authority.

The facility’s manager also notes that the LEDs have a compact design and give off a modern, sleek look which accentuates the storage units. The older HID lamps had large fixtures and were heavy; their maintenance and installation processes were hectic. He adds that his clients say they feel much safer in their units at night. The LEDs help the business to fulfill its core values of safety, comfort, and customer satisfaction.

Types of LED Self Storage Unit Lighting

LED Magnetic-Strip Retrofit Kits

LED magnetic-strips can replace any linear lighting fixture and completely do away with the need for ballasts and tombstones. They eradicate the need to wire energy to tombstones. These lights quickly replace fluorescent lamps and offer bright long-lasting light.

They are designed to replace fluorescents in troffer fixtures. The lights and their drivers usually have magnetic backing, allowing you to stick them to the metallic interiors of lighting fixtures. No tools, sockets, or screws are required.

Compared to LED tubes, LED strips are easier to install. Instead of having to connect the wiring to individual sockets, you only need to wire the energy to the driver. To connect the strips, you simply plug them into the driver using quick-connect cables. For a 4-light fixture, instead of wiring four sockets for LED tubes, you simply wire one driver for LED magnetic-strip lights.

These lights are the fastest and easiest fluorescent troffer replacements on the market. Irrespective of the type of ballast your troffer has, how many tubes it holds, or its size, magnetic LED strip lights offer a simple and complete retrofit solution for the troffers in your storage unit and office – running on energy-efficient, state-of-the-art, and long-lasting LED technology.

LED Wall-Packs

Wall-pack lights, which are also called exterior building lights, are usually installed on the exterior walls of buildings. They are normally installed on the outer walls of commercial buildings and illuminate the areas next to buildings where there's vehicles and pedestrians. LED Wall Pack lights are also installed on walkways, driveways, and streets that are situated next to buildings and mounted on lighting poles.

And while the main role of these lights is to make exteriors safe by producing sufficient light, they are also used in the beautification of exteriors. Some wall-pack lights feature unique, modern designs and can light up outdoor spaces and add natural detailing.

There are four main types of wall-pack lights:

Full Cutoff

The lighting fixtures are only open at the bottom and fully covered on all sides. The light is tightly controlled, hence light trespass is considerably reduced or eliminated.

Semi Cutoff

These lighting fixtures are slightly covered at the front and distribute light downwards and upwards (to some extent). They can be used to offer light to a specific area.

Up and Down

These light fixtures distribute light downwards and upwards, only down, or only up. When installed on exterior walls, they create symmetrical lighting patterns or highlight specific features.


These lights have a full or a semi cutoff design as well as a tilt mechanism that enables accurate light aiming. They are ideal for perimeter lighting in outdoor areas.


LED Shoebox-Lights

LED shoebox-lights are rectangular shaped lights (in the shape of a shoebox) that are normally used in parking lots. The lights come in a myriad of wattages, ranging from 50 to 600 watts. They can produce more than 80,000 lumens, perfectly illuminating a parking lot.

The biggest benefit of these lights is that they fill up large areas with bright, even lighting. Since they are used in areas where safety and security are paramount, they enable security features to work effectively.

LED shoebox-lights make perfect replacements for Commercial Light Pole shoebox and area lights. They offer up to 75% energy savings, helping you to save thousands of dollars you would have spent on maintenance for HID lamps – including bulb and ballast replacements.

LED Post-top Lights

Post-top lights are usually installed on pathways, parking lots, and roadways and are generally mounted on poles 7-20ft high. Some self storage facility owners have many poles at the entrance of their premises to offer the best light quality.

There are decorative post-top fixtures shaped as globes, acorns, or with beautiful detailing that gives them a modern look. With LED self storage unit lighting, your storage facility will enjoy massive energy savings, high-quality lighting, and reduced maintenance costs.

How One Storage Facility Significantly Reduced Its Energy Consumption with LED Lights

Instant 80% Energy Savings

Assured Self Storage, based in Duncanville, TX, was constructed in 2010. The facility that sits on 5 acres of land has multiple self storage units but used lights that were neither energy-efficient nor long-lasting.

The manager wanted lights that would sufficiently illuminate the exterior of the facility and send some of the light to the interiors. Their maintenance costs would have to be very low as the minimizing of operating costs was of utmost importance.

The facility also had 32 surveillance cameras that were very dependent on high-quality lighting for optimal performance. The manager, Terry Crawly, settled on 20-watt LED wall-pack fixtures with dimmers. After they were installed, they gave the facility instant 80% energy savings – compared to facilities that use 150W metal halide wall-packs.

The die-cast metal, fully gasketted LED light fixtures have a life expectancy of 50,000 hours and are resilient enough for the extreme temperature fluctuations of the outdoors. With CCTs of 5000K, these fully cutoff light fixtures have reduced light pollution and ensure maximum lighting of areas that really need light.

These lights are also UL listed for environments that have rainfall, humidity, or wetness and can operate comfortably in temperatures between -30°C and 50°C. The light they produce creates an inviting, soft ambiance and enhances the luxurious look of the facility.

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