Keeping Your Shipping Container Cool in the Summer (2024)

Keeping Your Shipping Container Cool in the Summer (1)

The sun is powerful and can really heat things up. Think back to the last time you left your vehicle sitting outside all day in the hot sun. When you opened the door to get in, the blast of hot, humid air was probably stifling. You might have even burned your hand when touching the steering wheel or seat belt and scorched your leg on the sizzling hot seat.

Unless specifically built to be refrigerated, shipping containers are just like your car – external conditions dictate the internal temperature. The shipping containers are typically made from steel, which conducts heat very well. Temperature control is significant if you’re living in your shipping container, using it as an office, or storing items that are especially susceptible to heat and humidity. As you’d expect, there are many benefits of having access to a climate-controlled environment.

In hot climates, particularly in the summer, shipping containers can easily reach more than 100 degrees. So, to keep the inside cool and keep your contents safe, you’ll need to plan ahead. There are plenty of inexpensive and efficient ways to keep your shipping container cool. This blog will summarize a few you should consider when buying your shipping container.

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Heatproof the roof

The roof of a shipping container absorbs heat from the sun, which then seeps into the shipping container's interior. Typically, depending on the shipping container you purchase, it will have a colored roof – blue, red, green, etc. These darker colors will attract the sun, just like if you wore a black shirt, instead of a white one, outside on a hot summer day.

One way to keep the top of your shipping container cooler is to paint the roof white, light gray, or another light color. Even better, use white reflective paint that will repel the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them. This approach works - check out this video.

If you’re using your shipping container as a home or business, another way to keep it cooler in the summer is to purchase a larger-than-necessary roof to extend over the structure. This will help shade the container and the windows from direct sunlight.

Install venting or air units

If you have the budget, consider installing some venting or other equipment to increase airflow and condition the air inside your shipping container. There are several options here, including:

  • Storage container vents: Adding two shipping container vents at each end will provide enough airflow to keep contents dry. This is called cross-ventilation. Vent types include fixed, louvered, and rooftop turbines. While fixed vents are simple and effective, they don’t alter airflow. Louvered vents are more expensive, but they allow some flexibility over airflow. Non-powered rooftop turbine vents that can be mounted on the roof are a popular and effective (but costly) ventilation option and will provide enough airflow to keep contents dry.
  • Air conditioning: AC can certainly do the trick. If you’re using your shipping container for an office or workshop and have a power source, consider HVAC as a basic window air conditioner. The unit's cooling capacity will vary depending on the container's size or space inside the shipping container. A unit with 12,000 BTU will sufficiently cool a room up to 400 square feet. If you’re in a harsher climate, you may want to look into a more robust commercial through-wall HVAC system.
  • Exhaust fans: You can check into adding exhaust fans that are typically available in sizes of 10 to 36 inches. Most exhaust fans come standard with fan guards and gravity shutters, and some include variable speed control.
  • Dehumidifier: If you have electricity in your shipping container, a dehumidifier might be an option. These machines pull the moisture out of the air to control the humidity. Consider adding a discharge line to eliminate the condensed water collected in the dehumidifier tank efficiently.

Don’t wait, insulate

Much like a home’s attic, basem*nt, or main structure itself, insulation is necessary to control the shipping container's temperature and moisture. Whether the shipping container is used to store different kinds of belongings or converted into a home or business, maintaining the right environment inside is critical.

You can use many kinds of insulation for your shipping container, each with its benefits and shortcomings. One common approach to insulating is using spray foam, which helps you avoid energy loss and protect it from high humidity and sun glare. Spray insulation serves as a versatile, long-term improvement that can be installed quickly with minimum hassle.

Wait, there’s more

Here are some additional tactics on trying to keep control of the air quality inside your shipping container in the summer – or year-round if you’re in a harsh climate:

  • Place your shipping container in the shade out of direct sunlight.
  • Place an open bag of cat litter at each end of the shipping container to absorb moisture. It’s inexpensive but requires monitoring and regular replacement based on the humidity level.
  • Install cross-ventilation windows.
  • Install extractor fans to purge hot air.
  • Arrange items inside the shipping container in a way that will increase airflow – stack them off the floor on shelves or clean pallets and avoid storing items too closely together.
  • Regularly check the humidity inside your shipping container with a moisture meter or temperature gun. That way, you’ll know if you need to do something to better control the air quality before any contents get damaged.
  • Set the shipping container on gravel or 6-inch pressure-treated blocks for better air circulation.
  • Keep the shipping container on high ground to avoid flooding and standing water.
  • Keep the roof clear of leaves and moss since they trap moisture.
  • Separate containers by 6 feet for better airflow.
  • Keep air vents unblocked.
  • Avoid storing anything inside with high moisture content.

Keeping your shipping container cool in the summer is no sweat if you plan ahead by considering the tactics we’ve discussed. Not only will it protect your property, but it will also allow you to keep the container in tip-top shape longer. Interested in learning more? Feel free to give us a call at 866-247-9172 or email us at


Keeping Your Shipping Container Cool in the Summer (2024)
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