Installing Electrical Outlets in Storage Units

Jon Fesmire | July 26, 2018 @ 12:09 PM

If you’re looking for ways to improve your storage facility, you may be considering installing outlets in the units. Is it a good or bad idea? Let’s explore the idea.

Reasons Not To

Ask other self storage owners and managers, and you’ll hear this common refrain. “I wouldn’t do it at all.” Why is that?

Each storage unit should already have a light above, so tenants won’t need to plug in their own to see when loading and unloading their things. If they want to play music (not too loud) while organizing their things, they can do so on their smartphones, and they don’t need an outlet for that.

In addition, too much can go wrong. You don’t want tenants setting up offices in their units, working with power tools, running power-guzzling appliances like big refrigerators or freezers, or living in their storage units. We’d all like to think we can trust our tenants to use such amenities wisely, but it takes just one bad player to start a fire, increase your electric bill, bother other tenants, or decide that since the unit has an outlet, they may as well secretly sleep there.

Reasons You Might Want To

With all those considerations, it may seem like there’s never a good reason to install outlets in units. However, there are a few cases when it makes sense.

You might have some large units set aside as activity spaces, such as for band rehearsal space, recording studios, and exercise space. If you decide to set aside certain units for this, we recommend you consult with an attorney to make sure it’s legal in your area, and consult with the various insurance companies who cover you and your tenants to make sure it won’t negate coverage.

Units set aside for these activities will need outlets. However, no standard storage unit should.

If You Create Activity-Centered Units

After you’ve made sure you can legally set up these units, and you’re sure that your insurance is set up correctly, you’ll still have a few steps left.

Legally, do you need to add ventilation or air conditioning? Do you need to redo the floors in wood, since people will actually be working in them? Find out and upgrade as needed.

Get a licensed electrician to install the outlets and the wiring. They can make sure everything is up to code, which will help avoid fires and excessive electrical use.

With a lawyer, write a contract specific to these units. They should include what hours people can use them, when excessive noise needs to end, if tenants can have guests in their units while working, and so on.

Consider Adding a New Business

If your self storage business is expanding and you want to get into the office space, recording studio, art studio, or band practice market, it may be better to open a new business in that market.

Otherwise, we simply advise against installing outlets in units. There’s just too much potential for abuse.

Jon Fesmire

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