All About Insulating a Shipping Container

All About Insulating a Shipping Container

Now that you have purchased a shipping container, you may be wondering what you can do to make it more comfortable and energy efficient. The best way to do this is to insulate the inside of the container.

There is one main reason why you would want to insulate your container, and that is to guard against heat and humidity. You’ll have to consider these factors when deciding on the best way to insulate it:

  • Container size
  • Intended usage (storage, cabin, office, pop up)
  • Climate in which you live or work (tropical vs. temperate)
  • Budget
  • Quality and amount of insulation desired

Wind and water tight containers are already pretty good at keeping air and moisture from making their way inside because they were originally built to make arduous ocean voyages. But you’ll still need to insulate it if you plan on spending an extensive amount of time in there, such as for a home or on-site office.

Your local climate will have a lot to do with it. You’ll need the right insulation to guard against outside weather and to maintain comfortable interior temperatures. As a general rule, your insulation needs will increase with extreme variations in temperatures. In particular, very wet and very dry climates will pose challenges due to the heat and humidity involved.

Knowing When to Insulate Your Container

First off, you need to determine whether or not insulation is needed. Usually it is, not just to guard against the effects of high and low temperatures, but to prevent condensation (this can result in rust and mold).

You will need insulation if:

  • Your local climate experiences extreme temperature variations, such as freezing winters or tropical heat waves. The conduction of heat leads to moisture condensation inside the walls, which can damage any materials you are storing.
  • You plan to live or work in the container. While insulating a container for storage will primarily protect materials from condensation damage, when you use the container for offices or living spaces, there’s no choice: you need insulation. Not only will it keep you more comfortable, it will reduce outside noise and reduce your heating and cooling bills.


Humidity Problems

It’s critical to control humidity inside a shipping container due to the formation of moisture condensation. You don’t necessarily have to live in an area of tropical heat; the sun that beats down on the container can cause it to get higher than 100 degrees. This temperature rise can cause the air to condense at the ceilings.

The top six inches near the ceiling is called the “sweat zone.” When water droplets collect on the ceiling, this can lead to “container sweat” or “container rain.” This moisture will then drop onto your stored items, damage them and form mold. Rust can eventually form on metal surfaces too, as well as discoloration.

A good temperature to maintain should be one that’s less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of 50 to 60 percent.

How to Decide Which Insulation Method is Best

You should think about:

  • Performance: To determine how much insulation you need, consider that extreme temperatures combined with intended usage of hours in the container at once will help determine which materials you need, such as open vs. closed cell structure.
  • R-value: This is how well the insulation will prevent transmission of heat energy. Consider the degree of heat protection.
  • Vapor Permeability: This is how well insulation will prevent vapor from leaking out.
  • Cost: The price range on insulation is very wide. Spray foam insulation is at the high end of the price gap, while batts or fiberglass insulation are at the lower end. Recycled materials may cost even less.
  • Expertise: Do you have the knowledge and tools to do it yourself or do you have to hire a pro?
  • Eco-friendliness: You may want to use sustainable, environmentally friendly materials that contain natural, renewable fibers, such as cotton, wool, cotton, or cellulose insulation made out of cork or recycled paper.

There are many factors that come into play when deciding whether or not to insulate your container, as well as how much or what type of insulation you should use. It all comes down to budget, intended use and personal preference.

Contact Transocean Equipment Management

Contact us today in either North Carolina or South Carolina for a free quote on the shipping container of your choice.


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