How to Modify Shipping Containers for Better Temperature Control - Trucker Tool for Shipping Container & Truck Trailers (2024)

The humble shipping container is the predominant tool for moving any goods around the world, and while the shipping container is remarkably adaptable and capable of holding almost any type of freight, it is not perfect in its original form. Unventilated and made of conductive metal, shipping containers tend to transfer and amplify changes in temperature, which can be remarkably damaging to the materials and products inside.

Fortunately, it is possible to modify shipping containers to make them safer for temperature-sensitive goods. Here are a few climate control methods shippers and carriers might use to improve their shipping containers with advanced cold chain technologies:



It is possible to add insulation to the bare steel walls of a shipping container to help protect goods inside against extreme heat and cold. Insulation is often used in conjunction with other temperature control solutions, like air conditioners. There are four types of insulation for shippers and carriers to choose from: polystyrene panels, batt insulation, spray foam and mineral wool. Some insulations require the addition of framing inside the container, and others will require reapplication and regular maintenance. Shippers and carriers might consider their needs and abilities before deciding on one insulation over another.


One of the simplest ways to prevent damage to goods inside shipping containers is the use of ventilation. Vents allow fresh air to continue flowing in and out of containers, which keeps goods dry even in regions with high heat and humidity. There are three ventilation options for shippers and carriers to choose from: fixed vents, louvered vents and rooftop turbines. The first option is least expensive but provides the least control over the airflow within the container. Rooftop turbines are perhaps the most popular and most effective vents for temperature control, but they are also the most expensive.

Exhaust and Extractor Fans

Sometimes used in conjunction with vents, exhaust fans and extractor fans are powered attachments that pull hot air out of the shipping container, allowing the interior to remain relatively cool even in warm environments. Placed near the top of the container, where hot air will collect, fans can range in size, but all fans come with guards to prevent pests and debris from entering the container.

AC Units

Powered air conditioning is the gold standard for temperature control. However, AC is expensive to install and run, and units require frequent maintenance to function even somewhat reliably. In harsher environments and for important freight, shippers can install robust units that are unlikely to fail, but AC might not be necessary for shipments that require only moderate temperature control.


Powered shipping containers can take advantage of electric dehumidifiers, which will remove moisture from the air to reduce the impact of extreme temperature on shipped goods. Dehumidifiers pull moist air into a refrigerated unit, where the moisture condenses. Some dehumidifiers will contain the condensation and require manual discharge, but installing a discharge line to the exterior of the shipping container might reduce the need for this kind of maintenance in transit.

Kitty Litter

For shippers looking to simplify temperature control without increasing costs, kitty litter is a useful tool for eliminating moisture within shipping containers. A large, open bag placed at each end of the container should suck away moisture and thwart condensation on goods, which helps freight stay safe in cold and hot weather alike. However, kitty litter does need to be replaced regularly as the material reaches its maximum moisture absorption in about a month.

Commercial Desiccants

A more professional product than kitty litter, a commercial desiccant is designed to eliminate moisture within a shipping container or any other storage space. There are many different brands of commercial desiccants, and companies might want to experiment with different styles of desiccant products to find one that works best to keep shipped goods safe from inclement weather. Pole desiccants are among the most popular choice for shipping containers, as they can hold up to three times their weight in moisture and will not spill or drip. Still, all desiccants will require monitoring and replacement in time.


Sometimes, the obvious solutions are the best solutions. The color white reflects more sunlight than other colors, so painting the exterior of a shipping container white can help that container stay cooler, especially in harsh regions where heat can get intense. What’s more, shippers or carriers use a zinc-rich paint to slow rusting and preserve the integrity of the steel container for years to come.

The shipping container is a blank canvas, allowing shippers and carriers to make any number of modifications that better suit their needs. In the cold chain, shipping containers might need any number of changes to ensure proper temperature control for the duration of shipping and storage.

How to Modify Shipping Containers for Better Temperature Control - Trucker Tool for Shipping Container & Truck Trailers (2024)


How to make a shipping container climate controlled? ›

How to Modify Shipping Containers for Better Temperature Control
  1. Insulation. Contents. ...
  2. Vents. One of the simplest ways to prevent damage to goods inside shipping containers is the use of ventilation. ...
  3. Exhaust and Extractor Fans. ...
  4. AC Units. ...
  5. Dehumidifiers. ...
  6. Kitty Litter. ...
  7. Commercial Desiccants. ...
  8. Paint.

How to regulate temperature in a shipping container? ›

Add Ventilation

Consider adding a vent or two at each end of the shipping container to set up a cross-ventilation system that can serve as a natural form of climate control. Introducing shipping container vents can be a simple and economic way to keep the insides of the containers cool.

Can you modify a shipping container? ›

The ability to customize is nearly endless and can be designed with doorways, windows, stairways, walls, and floors that align with very unique needs.

How to modify a container DIY? ›

How To Modify A Shipping Container?
  1. Consider the purpose of modification first. ...
  2. Use high-quality cutting discs and welding tools for window and vents installation. ...
  3. Install a roll-up or barn door for easy effortless entrance/exit. ...
  4. Color the walls and add flooring. ...
  5. Equip with interior and exterior lighting. ...
  6. Conclusion.

Can shipping containers be temperature controlled? ›

Thermally insulated walls are paired with compressors that allow the goods being shipped to remain at a constant temperature. There's usually adjustable ventilation that will allow the container to have better internal airflow if needed. Most containers can keep temperatures from -30C to +30C.

How hot do shipping containers get in 100 degree weather? ›

Shipping containers can get extremely hot, especially when exposed to direct sunlight. Temperatures inside can soar to over 100°F (38°C) in warm climates. Factors like container color, material, and location significantly affect internal heat.

How to keep a shipping container cool in summer? ›

Optimize Shipping Container Airflow and Ventilation
  1. Install Shipping Container Vents.
  2. Add Windows and Curtains to Your Shipping Container.
  3. Use a Dehumidifier, Fan or Air Conditioning Unit.
  4. Install Insulation Inside Your Container.
  5. Refrigerated (Reefer) Shipping Containers.
  6. Heatproof the Storage Container Roof.

What is a temperature tracking device for shipping? ›

Zebra TransTracker® temperature indicators manufactured by Temptime®, are single-use devices that monitor heat, freeze or dual heat-freeze exposures of temperature-sensitive products.

What is the best color for a shipping container? ›

Neutral colors tend to blend in nicely with the dirt and dust particles that inevitably end up surfacing on the container, while other shades demand constant upkeep.

How much does it cost to modify a container? ›

Container Modifications - basic price list for guidance.
Seacan SizeShipping Container AlterationPrice
AnySupply and install 3' x 3' vinyl sliding window$700 ea
AnySupply and Install 3' x 7' hollow metal steel man door (c/w deadbolt)$900
AnySupply and install 6' wide roll up door (steel, c/w locking mechanism)$900
12 more rows

How to adjust a shipping container? ›

Leveling Your Container

If it appears that your shipping container is not level, you can fix: Use pressure-treated lumber, bricks or concrete slabs as shims to raise a corner or two of the shipping container until the door gasket looks to be lined up all the way across.

How much does it cost to insulate a 40 shipping container? ›

In terms of cost, InSoFast offers shipping container insulation packages that range from $1,981.00 to $2,538.60 for standard 20-foot containers with 8-foot ceilings to $3,197.00 to $4,756.20 for 40-foot containers with high cube 9-foot ceilings. Orders can be customized to fit your budget and needs.

How do I edit an existing container? ›

This is how you can edit an existing docker container config:
  1. stop container: docker stop <container name>
  2. edit config: docker run -it -v /var/lib/docker:/var/lib/docker alpine vi $(docker inspect --format='/var/lib/docker/containers/{{.Id}}/config.v2.json' <container name>)
  3. restart docker.
Jan 2, 2018

What is the cheapest way to insulate a shipping container? ›

Using Styrofoam as the insulating material doesn't require any build-out of stud walls to secure the panels (as batt insulation does). The panels are glued directly onto the walls of the shipping container or mounted on bars that are flush with the walls, making it the most economical insulation method.

Can you winterize a shipping container? ›

Perhaps the most popular method to keep a shipping container warm is to insulate it. There are multiple ways you can accomplish this task. Spray foam is the easiest way to insulate a modified shipping container. All you have to do is spray the foam on the exterior and interior walls.

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