Since we’ve started Safe Steel Box, we’ve received emails from people all around the world. One of the most popular questions we receive is: which climates are suitable for a shipping container home?

Most people, rightly so, think about their local climate before deciding whether to build a shipping container home or not.

If they live in the tropics they are concerned that their container home will be sweltering. Whereas, if they live in colder climates they are concerned that their home will be an ice box all year round.

Shipping container homes are suitable for nearly all climates providing you thoroughly prepare your containers. Today we are going to look at how to prepare your containers to be suitable in both hot and cold climates.

Shipping Container Homes in Hot Climates

We’ve previously wrote in detail how to keep your shipping container home cool during the summer months.

This section is going to focus on how to design your shipping container to be suitable in hot climates.

For this, let’s pick an area which is very hot all year round and also dry: Panama fits this description.

Shade

The best way to keep your shipping container home cool is to not let the heat into your home in the first place.

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to do this is to keep the majority of your house in the shade. This stops sunlight shining directly onto your containers which would increase the temperature inside your home.

To keep your containers in the shade I’d recommend using your garden and planting trees if you have the space.

Two of the fastest growing trees are the Northern Catalpa and the Hybrid Poplar. Both of these trees grow at around 8 foot each year, so within a year or so they will be much taller than your container home and provide you with shade.

The Northern Catalpa grows an incredibly thick canopy of leaves- this really helps to reflect the sunlight away from your containers.

If you are going to use trees as sun shades, it’s also important to consider the orientation of your building. Remember that the sun will be at its hottest during the afternoon when it will be shinning from the south, so you should plant the majority of your shade in the south to protect your containers.

Roof

If the sunlight gets through your ‘shade-blockers’, the next best thing you can do is make sure your roof is reflecting and not absorbing heat.

An easy step is painting your roof white. White reflects the majority of wavelengths which means it will reflect the sun’s rays back and away from your shipping containers.

Not only is your roof’s colour important but just as important is the material you choose for your roof.

Traditional roofs like asphalt is black, this means it will absorb the heat from the sun and transmit it into your containers.

Instead you should use a treated metal roof. This would actually reflect the majority of the heat away before it even reaches your containers.

Ventilating Shipping Container for Hot Climates

Unfortunately though, it’s inevitable that at some point the ambient heat will enter your containers and when it does, your containers needs to be prepared to expel the heat and keep you cool.

You want to make sure your home is exceptionally good at letting heat out otherwise it will feel like you’re living in a sauna 24/7.

You need to make sure that both your Insulation and Ventilation are properly designed and fitted.

In terms of your insulation, most people use spray-foam insulation and we talk about this in much more detail later on in this article.

In very warm climates you shouldn’t focus too much on insulation because you want to focus more on ventilation.

With regards to ventilation you can have either passive or mechanical forms.

Passive ventilation uses nature (wind) to cool down your house and is most commonly done with a vent or a whirly bird.

Mechanical ventilation is powered by electric and is most commonly done with an extractor fan or dehumidifier.

Shipping Container Homes in Cold Climates

In hot climates we want to keep the heat out, whereas in colder climates it’s the exact opposite: we want the heat to stay inside our containers to keep us warm.

We’ve previously wrote in detail how to keep your shipping container warm during the winter months.

This section is going to focus on how to design your shipping container to be suitable for cold climates.

Insulating Shipping Container for Cold Climates

I can’t stress this point enough: if you don’t have good/enough insulation then you won’t be able to keep your container home warm regardless of how much money you are spending on heating bills.

You have three main insulation choices for your containers: spray-foam, panels or blanket insulation.

When I’ve spoken with other shipping container home owners, the single biggest thing they recommended was spray-foam insulation.

Spray-foam insulation makes sure you get a seamless vapour barrier, which is something the other two insulation choices don’t provide. Not only does a vapour barrier help keep heat in, it also helps to stop the formation of corrosion and mold inside your containers.

Spray-foam insulation is normally applied internally to the containers; however you can also spray it on the external shell of the containers to improve the containers’ thermal value.
When compared to panels or blanket insulation, spray-foam is much quicker to install as you don’t need battens to support the insulation.

When you’re living in a cold climate you want high R rated insulation (the R rating is the measure of how effective your insulating material is; the higher the number the better your home will retain heat).

One of the other massive benefits of spray-foam is, it’s extremely flexible and can be used to seal small gaps to stop warm air escaping from the container.

Roof

Loosing heat via your roof is one of the most common ways a home loses heat.

The best way to prevent this, and prepare your containers for a cold climate, is to thoroughly insulate your roof space.

Again, with insulating your loft you can use either spray-foam, panels or blanket insulation.

If cost is a concern, blanket insulation would be the ideal pick. However if cost isn’t a concern spray-foam insulation is the way forward.

Windows

When building a shipping container home in a cold climate the last key thing you need to be aware of is window sizes and placement.

In addition to roofs, windows cause your container home to lose a lot of heat.

The Victorian Government of Australia states that “A single pane of glass can lose almost 10 times as much heat as the same area of insulated wall”.

So it’s very important to bear this in mind whilst you’re designing your container home.

Given that windows loose so much heat, you don’t want to design a container home with large floor to ceiling glass panes in a cold climate like Alaska. This would cause you to lose a significant amount of heat through the windows and it would be difficult to heat your home up.

It would be much more efficient to have several smaller windows.

So now you know that shipping container homes are suitable in pretty much all climates, let me know in the comments below: where are you going to start build your own container home?

 
 
We see shipping containers everywhere now- they’re being used as homes, swimming pools and coffee stores. With this, it’s very easy to forget where shipping containers came from, and what their original purpose was/still is!
We have already discussed the 20 ways shipping containers changed the world and also how and who invented them.
We know that shipping containers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and today, we want to look at exactly how shipping containers are made.
In a modern world where many things are made by machines now, it was amazing to see this isn’t the case with shipping containers.

Step 1: Wall Panels

The very first task it to make the wall panels.
To do this, large steel sheets are cut down into 8 foot x 3 foot sheets. The sheets are then sandblasted and corrugated. The sheets are corrugated to add strength to them and this is what gives shipping containers their wave like texture.

Once the sheets have been corrugated they are then laid out and welded together to create the wall panel.
The final step to complete the wall panel is to weld square tubing onto the top and bottom of the wall. This tubing is used later on to weld the floor and roof to the wall.

Step 2: Floor Frame Assembly

After the wall panel is complete, the floor frame needs assembling.
The floor frame is predominantly made up of I-beams. Two longer I-beams are laid out perpendicular to each other. Then smaller I-beams are welded in between the longer I-beams to create a raft like base.

Once the welding is complete, the floor frame is sanded with a flap disc angle grinder to ensure there are no rough welding joints.

Step 3: Doors and Corner Posts

The front and back of the container now needs making.
Again, like the side walls, the doors are mainly made out of corrugated steel. Once the corrugated steel has been cut to size, it is encased in square steel tubing. The doors are then sanded smooth again to remove any rough welding joints.

The famous corner posts are then welded to I-beams and then the individual doors are welded in-place inside the I-beams.

Step 4: Completing the Box

The shipping container really starts to take shape now, as the door frames are craned into position on top of the floor frame. The door frame is welded down and then the wall panels are also craned and welded into position.
Finally, the roof panel is then lowered down onto the container and welded, completing the carcass of the container.

Step 5: Painting and Priming

The container is then wheeled into the paint workshop and primed. Priming (undercoating) is the first layer of paint to be sprayed on the container and it is a preparatory coating. This ensures that additional layers of paint stick better to the container; it also provides an additional layer of protection for the container.
Once the primer has dried, the container is spray painted several times. Multiple layers of paint are used to ensure the container is protected against the harsh elements of sea travel such as salt and water.

Step 6: Flooring

The next step is to fit the wooden flooring on top of the floor frame.
Six plywood panels are used to floor the container. However, before they are fitted, the panels are varnished with a protective coating. This protective coating makes sure that bugs and other pests aren’t present in the wood.

Once the panels have dried they are placed inside the container and screwed down into the steel floor beams.

Step 7: Decals, Identification and Doors

The container can now be decorated with the company’s logo and any advertisements. These are usually stickers which have an adhesive back to them.
The container also needs labeling with its unique identification code which can be used to identify the container from anywhere in the world.
The identification code has 11 alphanumeric characters each of which corresponds to a meaning.

The first three letters are used to identify the owner of the container. On the image ‘TGH’ refers to Textainer- one of the largest shipping container companies in the world.

The fourth character is a ‘Product Group Code’ which can either be U, J or Z.

U = Shipping Container.

J = Any piece of equipment than can be attached to a shipping container- i.e. a power unit.

Z = Trailer used to transport a shipping container.

The fifth to tenth characters make up a serial number which is assigned by the container’s owner. This serial number is used by the specific container’s owner to identify the container.
The final character is known as a ‘Check Digit’. It’s used to verify the previous 10 characters.
Once the container has been labelled, the door handles and locking mechanism are fitted. A rubber seal is then wrapped around the doors to ensure they are water tight.

Step 8: Waterproofing and Testing

The underside of the container is now sprayed with a waterproof sealant.
Once the sealant has dried, the container is soaked in water and then inspected for any leakages or defects.
If no defects or leaks are found, the container is now complete and can be transported to its intended location.

It’s quite an impressive process isn’t it? Although here at Safe Steel Box we recommend building with up cycled containers to help the environment, there are certain advantages of building with new shipping containers. One of the biggest advantages being, you know exactly where the container has been and what has been transported inside of it.

If you are looking to buy either new or used shipping containers please contact us and our representatives will be happy to help you.

 
 

Storage Containers: The Eco-Friendly Option

In a world where our carbon footprint is – quite rightly – becoming increasingly scrutinized, it makes sense to embrace Eco-friendly lifestyle choices where we can. The decision to lead a greener lifestyle also extends to the choices we make about how to store our belongings, or manage large-scale events and construction projects. So, what are the environmental benefits of using storage containers?

Personal-use storage units

As a home-owner, it’s worth thinking about how you can best store your belongings in the most Eco-friendly way possible. For a start, De-cluttering or recycling unwanted and unused possessions are a great way to get rid of stuff that others might want (and that you don’t need!) For your other belongings, using a storage container is one way you can keep your things safe and secure in the knowledge that you’re not adding to your carbon footprint. Many of us store our little-used possessions in card board boxes, which directly impact the environment due to the sourcing of the cardboard and the waste it contributes to.

According to informinc.org, a leader in ‘Building Environmental Literacy’, “packaging represents nearly one-third of the total solid waste stream”, giving us all the more reason to choose re-usable forms of self-storage.

With 8 storage locations across Canada, Safe Steel Box branches are easily accessible – meaning you won’t have to travel miles to find your nearest branch. This will help to save you time and money, and lessen the impact of your carbon footprint.

Build an Eco-friendly home

Perhaps you’ve been inspired to build your own Eco home? Shipping container homes are becoming increasingly sought after, and can offer an ideal solution for those looking for a ready-made structure from which to build a house as well as wanting to address their environmental impact. Storage units are available to purchase, as well as to hire, so it’s worth checking out the different sized containers available to suit your needs. If you’re looking to proactively lessen your impact on the environment, whether it’s for storage purposes, welfare accommodation or for part of your self-build project, self-storage is the Eco-friendly way to go.