Complete Guide to Shipping Container Locks in 2021

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Most people wouldn’t think twice about locking the door to their apartment or house before leaving. It helps prevent someone from damaging or stealing your things. Many people use shipping containers to store or office space and, of course, shipping products, so you’ll want to keep everything protected. 

If you have a shipping container for any reason, you’ll want to make sure it becomes second nature for you to lock that before leaving too. There are hundreds of shipping container locks available, so how do you choose the best lock for you?

Types of Shipping Container Lock Systems

Before you impulsively purchase a shipping container lock system for your container or containers, take some time to learn a bit about the different types of locks you can use on your containers. 

Container Padlocks

shipping container padlock

You can’t go wrong with a traditional padlock for your shipping container. Manufacturers of container padlocks created these specific locks in a U-shape that you’ll attach to the loop on a container’s lockbox. 

Shipping container padlocks come in all different sizes, making them perfect for almost every shipping container owner. Depending on the padlock you’re looking at, the material used to make them may vary too. 

If your container has a lockbox, padlocks are perfect because the lockbox will hide the padlock’s shackle. If you hide the shackle, it makes it that much more difficult for someone to break in. 

Crossbar Locks

Crossbar locks are very different from container padlocks. You will typically place these locks on the shipping container’s door, on either the locking rods or the handles. Crossbar locks are very sturdy because manufacturers create them with steel. 

These extendable clamp locks are so strong that they’re resistant to lockpickers, even ones with bolt cutters. To prevent bolt cutter attacks, crossbar locks are the way to go. The majority of crossbar locks are available in the standard size of nine to sixteen inches, but you may be able to find extensions if you need a wider lock.

Truck Seals

truck seals

If you’re looking to secure your shipping container on a budget, truck seals are your best bet. They may not be incredibly cheap, but they are the most inexpensive option when it comes to container locks.

Truck seals are perfect for using on your container where there is a minimum security risk. They’ll still be able to prevent the container doors from opening accidentally, but people may still be able to break through the locks. 

There are some options that are made with a more robust material if you still like this type of lock but need more security. 

Roll-Up Door Lock Boxes

Some shipping containers have roll-up doors. Padlocks may do in a pinch to keep everything secure, but if you want to feel confident that no one can get into your container, using a lock designed for roll-up door containers is best. 

Some roll-up door shipping container lock boxes still allow you to use a padlock, but the lockbox you use in addition to that will keep everything more secured. In addition, there are some that will automatically latch when the door is closed.

Heavy-Duty Cargo Door Locks

When you have high-value items in your shipping container, heavy-duty cargo locks should be ones you consider. These shipping container locks are made with heavy-duty metal that make it near impossible for thieves to drill into. 

Hidden Shackle Padlocks

Padlocks are a popular choice for locking shipping containers. Hidden shackle padlocks offer even more protection than standard padlocks. The padlock’s shackle is hidden within the lock, making it even harder to open without the key.

If you’re shipping or storing items that have a high value, a hidden shackle padlock is going to be one of the most secure locks you can find. 

Top Five Locks for Shipping Containers

Now that you know about the types of shipping container locks out there, we’ve compiled a list of our top five locks to help you narrow down your decision.  

Packlock’s TL82A Container Lock

This container lock is made of anodized aluminum, making it three times stronger than raw aluminum. In addition to being incredibly strong, it has a 6-pin cylinder. This lock comes with two keys, one for you and a spare or for another person. 

Padlock’s TL82A shipping container lock is a hidden shackle lock. The hidden shackle feature adds an extra layer of security for whatever is in your container. 

When opening your container, you never have to worry about misplacing your lock. This product comes with a rope that keeps the padlock attached to the door, even when unlocked. 

FJM Security Products Triple Chrome Plated D-Shaped Security Padlock 

FJM’s triple chrome-plated security lock is a chrome, stainless steel, and alloy steel padlock. This unique combination of material makes this container lock nearly impossible for someone to break or drill through.

The lock’s D-shape allows you to attach it to your shipping container either horizontally or vertically. To unlock this padlock, you’ll need a key, not a combination. For all the additional layers of protection this lock provides, it’s an excellent value for your money. 

ABUS 92/80 Monoblock Padlock

The ABUS 92/80 is made of brass and then encased in chrome. The ABUS Monoblock padlock is an excellent weather-resistant container lock. It will withstand the elements outside and keep everything safe inside the container. 

This product has an 8-pin precision brass cylinder that offers over 1,000 key combinations. So if you’re looking for a heavy-duty container lock, this may be your best bet. 

ABUS 37RK/70 Granit Padlock

The ABUS 37RK/70 is a traditional shipping container padlock. The steel alloy body makes this lock durable and resistant to intruders, and the removable shackle provides CEN grade five security. You need the key card to unlock this product. 

This size lock will fit most standard storage containers perfectly. Admittedly, it’s on the pricier side, but it’s a small price to pay for keeping your items secure. 

Sealock Security Systems Adjustable Door Lock 1217

The Sealock adjustable door lock 1217 was created using chrome-plated spring steel. The adjustable locking increments are ½ inch and are easily attached to shipping containers. 

Combination locks may not seem like they’re a quality lock simply because someone just needs to guess the correct combination. But the Sealock Adjustable Door Lock 1217 uses an internal tumbler system with over 300 million combinations, making it nearly impossible for someone to guess the correct combination before someone sees what they’re doing.  

What to Look For in a Lock for Shipping Containers

What kind of shipping container lock you’ll need is dependent on your situation. Here’s what we considered when looking at the top container locks. 

The Materials Used

Almost all shipping container lock producers make their locks with a solid material or a combination of materials. Which material you think is best for you is entirely your opinion. Now, if your container is consistently exposed to the elements, a weather-resistant material is a good idea. 

The Shackle

You’ll want to consider if the shackle is exposed or hidden. There’s nothing wrong with a padlock that has an exposed shackle, but it may not provide as much protection as one with a hidden shackle. 

The Size of the Lock

lock sizes

You want to make sure the size of the lock will fit on your shipping container. You’ll want to make sure that the lock you’re interested in will correctly work on your container doors. If it doesn’t, you won’t be getting the security you’re seeking from that lock. 

Combination Lock vs. Key Lock

Most container locks use a key to open them nowadays. If you would rather not hold onto a key, searching for a lock that lets you use a combination will be better for you. If you prefer to hold onto a key because you know you won’t misplace it, a keyed lock will be an excellent option for you. 

High CEN Rating 

The higher the CEN (Central European Norm), the more security that the lock provides. If you have higher valued items in your container, getting a lock with a higher CEN rating is going to be ideal. The highest CEN rating a lock can have is a six, and the lowest is a one. 

Drilling Protection 

drilling protection

Criminals are smart. When they see a lock on a shipping container, they’re more than likely going to try to drill through the lock. You’ll want a lock that makes it near impossible for them to drill through. Many locks come with anti-drill plates that make it difficult for people to drill through. 

Heavy-duty container locks are perfect for preventing drilling, but there are some that aren’t considered heavy-duty that may still provide drilling protection. 

Conclusion 

Locking your shipping container is the only way to ensure that whatever you’re storing inside stays safe. There are a variety of container locks in all different sizes, materials, and security levels that are sure to provide you with a high level of shipping container security. Knowing your options will help you decide on the best shipping container lock for you. 

Ryan Stetson

Ryan Stetson

Currently own two 20' and 40' containers converted into an office/workshop. Having worked in the shipping industry for 6 years, my goal is to share my personal experiences as well as connect potential container buyers with suppliers around the US.

Ryan Stetson

Ryan Stetson

Currently own two 20' and 40' containers converted into an office/workshop. Having worked in the shipping industry for 6 years, my goal is to share my personal experiences as well as connect potential container buyers with suppliers around the US.

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