Self-Storage Security – Do Door Alarm Systems Really Work?

As a result of our new economy self-storage owners look to reducing the cost of their security systems either in new construction and/or retrofitting their existing systems. Over the last 32 years, I have been selling and designing security systems for the self-storage industry, and I have been asked countless times, “Are individual door alarms really worth it, and do they work?”

As a salesperson, I like to point out that they are a great marketing tool for your facility. But the question still remains, “Do they really work?” The short answer is yes, if they are properly installed and monitored by an alarm company that can provide individual unit information in the event of an alarm. The long answer is it really depends on the manufacturer, the technology, and the installer.

Pricing has always been a major deciding factor; and I must say that you really get what you pay for with security. I have visited sites all across the nation and I have seen quality installations and some real nightmare projects-some that made you wonder if they ever worked!

A good installation is a matter or choosing a local installer who has experience and a track record to help you desfgn your system, and who will help you with ongoing service and maintainance of your security system. Have the local dealer take you to several facilities where they have installed systems, walk the hallways and equipment rooms and look for wires hanging down, and check out the neatness of wiring and equipment mounting. Before you leave the site, ask the manager if they like the
system or if they have had any problems with its operation.

Ongoing maintenance of your security system is a cost that needs lo be budgeted for or included in the lease of your system, and you should always keep your system running at 100 percent. Protection is only available on working systems. When law enforcement needs to have an account of the activities for a particular unit and/or tenant (and it will) you will be able to provide that information.

My long-time friend had an older facility with an old, hardwired security system. He decided to go wireless and install the system himself. I cautioned him that the manufacturer he was going to use did not have a dealer network for support and had some issues with their technology. Needless to say, after three months of operation, he started having issues with the system. It became inoperable and he had no one to support his system.

Depending on the state you reside in, there also may be special licensing requirements for the security contractor and its employees who service and install the system. Check with your local electrical inspector to find out what these requirements are to make sure the company you are looking at has all the proper licensing for your city and state.

Lastly, door alarms only have value if your staff is prepared to respond to the alarm. Some ignore alarms, and that’s mainly due to poor management. An alarm is an alarm-don’t ignore them!

John Wollam has been designing Access Control and Secunly products for the self-storage industry since 1980. He is the Managing Member for Stor-Guard, LLC, a manufacturer of self-storage security systems. Wollam is also an owner and CTO of Smartlok Systems, Inc., which holds several patents on wirelesss security locks with over-locking technology.