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Cluster Versus Freestanding Mailboxes: What’s the Difference?

Mail and package security are big concerns these days, and for good reason. Did you know that mail theft can lead to other crimes such as identity theft, and that it’s been growing in recent years? Unsecured mail can be dangerous for businesses and individuals alike.

Therefore, if you run a commercial property or community, you want to reduce the risk of mail theft as much as possible. Cluster mailboxes and freestanding mailboxes are two options.

You have probably seen, or considered investing in, those aluminum multi-customer mailboxes that often stand alone outside of businesses and apartment complexes. Usually, these mailboxes are on a pedestal and mounted on a concrete slab, and often have at least one locker for packages as well, and perhaps an outgoing mail slot. These units tend to stand alone, or along a row of identical mailboxes, and can have anywhere from a few to two dozen customer doors.

However, there are a couple of different types, and you may hear them referred to with different names.

Cluster or Pedestal Mailboxes. Pedestal mailboxes, or cluster box units, are best for outdoor use. They consist of one cabinet that holds multiple, horizontal customer mailboxes and at least one parcel locker in most cases. All of these cabinets are locking to protect mail.

A pedestal holds up the cabinet and forms a bridge between the cabinet and a concrete slab. This means that pedestal mailboxes are best when a slab is already available, can be poured, or if you have open concrete space for installation. For this reason, pedestal mailboxes work the best outdoors, and near a front-facing or central part of a property.

Once ordered, this mailbox will arrive with the pedestal and mailbox cabinet in separate pieces, and the property manager or employee will need to install these mailboxes. This is generally a two-person job and will require some drilling to mount the pedestal to the slab.

A few different types of pedestals are available, making it possible to choose the right look for your property.

Freestanding Mailboxes. Freestanding mailboxes are similar to cluster/pedestal mailboxes in that they stand alone. However, they can be mounted indoors or outdoors, and stand as a single cabinet rather than a cabinet and pedestal. Sometimes, they’re called freestanding mail enclosures. Having one cabinet without a pedestal can allow for more installation locations, as a concrete slab isn’t always required. They may be a good solution if you wish to install indoors, and don’t have wall space available. They’re also great for outdoor use.

Freestanding mailboxes are a newer addition to the line of USPS-approved commercial mailboxes, but are approved for postal service delivery like their other 4C counterparts.

The mailbox cabinet and customer units are separate, but the customer units are simply recessed into the cabinet itself, making for more convenient installation. They can also be installed on floors with included hardware.

Like with cluster mailboxes, freestanding models are best installed in an easy-to-find location.

There are freestanding trash cans, outgoing mail slots, and parcel lockers available as well. It’s possible to add these to an existing setup, to help keep a mail area clean and to provide an extra convenience for tenants. After all, you’ll need to keep a mail area free of obstructions.

Both Mailbox Types Have This in Common. Whether you choose a pedestal or freestanding mailbox, you can be assured that if you select a USPS-approved unit, that your tenants will enjoy high security for delivered mail and packages. Both types are made of aircraft aluminum, and all locks are made of stainless steel and able to resist damage and tampering. Different colors are available, and a powder finish ensures that these units are highly resistant to weathering. This makes them ideal for outdoor settings, especially if no roof or kiosk is available.

Both types can also be mounted side by side, to allow property managers to create a custom “mail station.” Freestanding and pedestal/cluster mailboxes are both good solutions when no wall space is available for installation.

Some customizations are possible, and numbers can be ordered for each mailbox, both as engravings and stickers. Most units also include an outgoing mail slot and compartment, which has its own protections against mail theft.

Parcel lockers are included with units that have at least ten customer mailboxes, and are usually included with those that have fewer. It’s also possible to buy pedestal and freestanding parcel lockers to add to existing mailboxes.

Choose Your New Mailboxes Today. Here at National Mailboxes, we’ll help you decide whether cluster or freestanding mailboxes are the best solution for your property or business. Just contact us today if you have questions about installation, pricing, availability, or even the best location for your mail delivery.