Moving Advice Guest Post: Which Type of Lock Should You Use?

What follows is a guest post from SelfStorageDeals.com.

Whether you’re moving a pet across the country or a family heirloom into a storage unit, your number one concern is that your dearest belongings stay safe. That’s why you can’t just choose any random lock for your needs -- you’ll need to choose one that both fits your situation and offers the optimal level of protection, and you’ll probably want to do it at the best price possible. Here’s our breakdown of the types of locks out there and the kinds of things you need to look, and look out, for:

Type: Chain lock

Advantages: Chain locks are extremely versatile; their articulated links can be used to secure a wide variety of objects in different situations. You can link objects to other objects (like a bike to a rack), wrap and weave the chain around and through the pieces you’d like secured, and tightly secure large or strangely-shaped objects that other locks won’t fit around. Plus, these are often the cheapest locks available.

Disadvantages: Because of their many articulated links, there are far more breaking points on a chain lock than on any other type of lock. Think about it: only one link needs to break in order for the whole lock to be rendered ineffective. A pair of bolt-cutters or even a hammer can often make short work of a chain lock. In addition, the greater surface area of the chain means that more of it is exposed to the wear and tear of the elements. While some chain locks are covered in a weatherproof rubber coating, they’re still at greater danger from theft than other types. Finally, while chain locks can be more affordable than other locks, this is because they’re also often made with inferior materials. We recommend only using chain locks in select situations where other locks won’t do the trick.

Type: Padlock or ‘U-Lock’

Advantages: Padlocks are strong and thick, and their u-shaped shackles fit through all kinds of shapes and sizes of lock holes. As padlocks are the most common type of external locks, they’re almost guaranteed to fit any portable kennel, suitcase or storage unit, though you’ll probably have to find the right size. It’s easy to find padlocks with stainless steel shackles and brass or steel bodies, or even those made with boron, the strongest material commercial locks are made out of. Also, you should have no problem finding padlocks with weather-protective coatings, double-locking mechanisms, and anti-pick pins—options you might not need for your pet’s kennel or your suitcase, but will certainly want for your storage unit, being as exposed to the elements as it is. Be warned that you will pay extra for this extra protection.

Disadvantages: While the padlock’s long, u-shaped, neck-like shackle makes it versatile, it also presents a tempting target for a thief’s bolt-cutters. In addition, the smaller the lock, the thinner the neck, meaning that the tiny padlock you use to secure your suitcase is extra-vulnerable to thieves with the right tools. In extremely cold weather, padlock shackles are wont to break off into the locking mechanism. And while padlocks are common and easy to find, it’s also easy to choose the wrong variety, as many padlocks use inferior materials like aluminum. While we think you’d be safe with a good padlock, we’d recommend the next lock on our list for those most concerned with keeping their valuables safe.

Type: Disc Lock

Advantages: These disc-shaped locks are the most compact and solid of the bunch, plus have the shortest shackles. Because of this, less of the shackle—the most vulnerable piece of the entire lock—is exposed to the elements (or the thief’s bolt cutters). Disc locks are also more likely than other locks to be made out of the strongest materials (stainless steel and boron) and to feature the most security features, like anti-pick pins and dual ball bearing double lock mechanisms.  We highly recommend disc locks as the ideal type of lock for almost any situation.

Disadvantages: Because of their short shackles, you might have a harder time finding a disc lock that fits your needs. Additionally, disc locks tend to be more expensive than padlocks, particularly those with a full set of features.

So there you have it: chain locks should be used only in certain specific situations, padlocks are versatile and will probably be suitable for the job, while disc locks are the strongest and safest type of lock.

Brian Shreckengast is a writer at SelfStorageDeals.com, a leading price-focused search engine for finding cheap storage units. Learn more about moving, storing, and real estate at the SSD blog.

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