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How To Insulate A Shipping Container

Posted on October 26, 2019 by Container Stop
A gloved hand cuts wool insulation to illustrate how to insulate a shipping container.

We’ve written before on the Container Stop Blog about the energy efficiency of shipping container homes and storage container homes. There are several reasons why container living spaces are so eco-friendly. One of them has to do with how to insulate a shipping container in the first place, which we’ll get to shortly.

It’s important to understand that shipping containers are designed with energy efficiency in mind before they ever begin their second lives as living spaces.

Consider Chiquita Brands International, the huge and world-famous supplier of (mostly) bananas. The company has been working to improve the design and energy efficiency of containers used to store and ship their fresh produce to ports throughout the world.

Some of the innovations — which, according to a Chiquita press release, have led to an annual 17,000-ton reduction in CO2 emissions — include containers that:

  • Are 50% more energy efficient than older models
  • Require less energy to function
  • Are equipped with greenhouse-friendly refrigerants
  • Feature better insulation

“Even with a 25% increase in the number of Chiquita containers in use,” writes Chris Kroger of The Packer, “the company saw an 11% drop in electricity use because of the more energy-efficient containers.”

It’s that final bullet point above that we’ll focus on now.

Hopefully, by the time you’re done reading this blog post, you’ll have a better understanding of how to insulate the interior space of a shipping container. (Not to mention some pros and cons.)

Insulating A Shipping Container

In order to maintain a comfortable temperature inside shipping containers, they need to be insulated. It’s also important to insulate in order to prevent condensation, which can lead to corrosion and mold.

Before moving on, let’s clarify a couple of things.

First, Container Stop sells a lot of insulated containers for refrigeration purposes. These come insulated; Container Stop can add a new cooling system to them, if and when necessary.

Second, insulating a container for a mini home, however, is a different process.

There are several shipping container insulation options; which one you choose is based on a variety of factors, including the climate where the container home will be located. (Another factor is budget.)

Here’s a quick look at the most typical kinds of insulation.

Blanket Insulation

These come in batts, which are pre-cut to fit, and rolls, which must be cut during installation. You’re probably already familiar with this type of insulation; it’s the fluffy, compressible kind that wraps your home in some type of fiber. It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

Types of blanket insulation:

  • Fiberglass
  • Mineral (rock or slag) wool
  • Plastic fibers
  • Natural fibers (e.g., cotton)

Note: Fiberglass can irritate eyes, skin, and lungs. Be sure to have a professional install your shipping container insulation if you choose this method.

Loose Fill And Blown-In Insulation

Installers blow or pour this type of insulation into place. It’s typically made from cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral (rock or slag) wool.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, this type of insulation is “good for adding insulation to existing finished areas, irregularly shaped areas, and around obstructions.”

Spray Foam Insulation

This is a mixture that expands into a solid, creating a continuous foam that reaches into the insulated space. This method requires trimming. The material? Typically, it’s polyurethane (open or closed cell), cementitious foam, or cellulose.

One final point — expressed perfectly by

“One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t necessarily have to use a certain type of insulation exclusively. For instance, you could use closed-cell polyurethane spray foam insulation for the container walls and roof, and then use rock wool blankets underneath the container to keep the cost down. You can even combine insulation in the same area.”

Container Stop: Your Personal Shipping and Storage Container Supplier

Container Stop provides storage containers that can be customized and delivered anywhere in the United States. We want to be your one-stop-shop for the creation, purchase, rental, and delivery of shipping container and storage container solutions.

Let’s create the shipping and storage container of your dreams. We can install doors and windows, electricity, shelves — you name it.

Get in touch with us today, and we’ll start a discussion about your perfect container home and the best methods to insulate it.

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We’ve built cabins, garden sheds, and tack rooms with our containers. Have an idea for your shipping container? Let us know!

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