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  • Writer's pictureTriple Eight Containers

The Benefits of External Container Storage vs. Internal Storage Units for Self-Storage Operators in the UK

The self-storage industry in the UK has seen significant growth over the past decade. As the demand for storage solutions continues to rise, operators are constantly seeking the most efficient and cost-effective methods to meet their customers' needs. Two primary types of storage solutions dominate the market: external container storage and internal storage units. Each comes with its own set of advantages, but in this blog, we’ll explore why external container storage may offer superior benefits for self-storage operators in the UK.

1. Cost-Effectiveness

Initial Investment: External containers, often referred to as shipping containers, are relatively inexpensive to purchase or lease compared to the construction costs of internal storage units. Shipping containers are pre-fabricated and can be delivered ready for use, significantly reducing the initial capital outlay for self-storage operators.

Maintenance Costs: Maintenance of external containers tends to be less costly. These containers are designed to withstand harsh environments and require minimal upkeep. In contrast, internal storage units, which are often located within a larger building, require ongoing maintenance of not just the units themselves, but also the infrastructure such as lighting, climate control, and security systems.

2. Flexibility and Scalability

Rapid Expansion: External container storage offers unmatched flexibility in terms of scaling operations. As demand increases, operators can simply add more containers to their site without the need for extensive construction work. This allows for quick adaptation to market changes and customer needs.

Site Versatility: Containers can be placed on various types of land, including uneven or temporary sites, providing operators with more options when selecting a location. This versatility is especially beneficial in urban areas where space is limited and expensive.

3. Customer Convenience

Ease of Access: One of the key advantages of external container storage is the ease of access it provides to customers. Containers are typically located at ground level, allowing customers to drive directly up to their unit. This is particularly appealing for those storing heavy or bulky items, as it eliminates the need for trolleys or lifts, which are often required in multi-story internal storage facilities.

24/7 Access: External containers can be designed to offer 24/7 access without compromising security. This level of convenience is a significant selling point for customers who need flexible access to their belongings.

4. Security

Robust Construction: Shipping containers are inherently secure, constructed from heavy-duty steel designed to resist break-ins. Many containers come equipped with advanced locking mechanisms that enhance security further.

Perimeter Security: Operators can focus security measures on the perimeter of the container site, simplifying the overall security management compared to internal storage units, which require comprehensive surveillance and security measures within a large building.

5. Environmental Considerations

Sustainable Options: Many external storage containers are repurposed shipping containers, promoting recycling and reducing waste. This sustainable approach can appeal to environmentally conscious customers and enhance the operator's brand image.

Energy Efficiency: External containers typically do not require the same level of energy consumption as internal units. The absence of climate control systems and extensive lighting leads to lower energy usage, making container storage a more eco-friendly option.

6. Regulatory Advantages

Planning Permissions: In many cases, external container storage may bypass some of the stringent planning permissions required for constructing internal storage facilities. This can expedite the setup process and reduce bureaucratic hurdles for operators.

Health and Safety: The simplicity of container storage sites often translates to fewer health and safety concerns compared to large internal storage buildings, which must comply with numerous regulations regarding fire safety, emergency exits, and accessibility.


While both external container storage and internal storage units have their merits, the benefits of external container storage are compelling for self-storage operators in the UK. The lower initial and ongoing costs, flexibility in scaling, customer convenience, robust security, environmental advantages, and simpler regulatory requirements make external container storage an attractive option. As the demand for self-storage continues to grow, operators who adopt external container storage solutions can position themselves for greater success and profitability in this competitive market.



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