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Refrigerated or Insulated Shipping Containers?

04.09.2017 - Posted by Updated On 04.09.2017    

Refrigerated shipping containers, or “reefers”, are used regularly for transporting all types of food from seafood to fruits and vegetables. The climate controlled environment keeps the food frozen, or in the case of fruits and vegetables can “put it to sleep” so it ripens more slowly in transit.

In the secondary market reefer containers can be put to use for many other uses. In some cases, the goal of the end user is to just provide some extra warmth, while other commercial users employ the container for extra food storage space during busy seasons. Whatever the case, there are three options available and they are working refrigerated shipping containers, non-working reefers, and standard shipping containers with aftermarket insulation.

Working Refrigerated Shipping Container

Working refrigerated shipping containers are great for using as climate controlled storage. Not only can they keep things cold or frozen at 13F (-25C), they can also maintain a consistent high temperate of 77F (25C).

Refrigerated shipping containers come in 20', 40', and 40' high cube lengths and are typically found on the market as used, but in some locations can be purchased new.
Restaurants, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and other companies that require a storage area that can hold contents at a constant, climate controlled environment use these containers.

refrigerated container for seasonal food storageReefer container used for food storage

One thing to remember with working refrigerated containers is that they require a three phase power supply, which isn't found in most residential houses.

Non-working Refrigerated Container or Insulated Shipping Container

insulated shipping container

Non-working refrigerated containers are slightly more common to be found in the retail market. A non-working refrigerated container is just as straight forward as it sounds – it was previously a working refrigerated container, but now it's a large insulated box.

There are many uses for non-working reefers. If the stored contents don't need to be kept at a specific temperature, but do require some control they can be a good option. Some people in colder or hotter areas use these containers and install air conditioners or vented heaters to provide some temperature control.

Standard Dry Container, with Added Insulation

Standard shipping containers can easily have insulation installed, and there can be some more flexibility in terms of customization than a non-working reefer. If electrical wiring or plumbing is going to be installed when customizing a non-working reefer some internal space may be lost due to framing out walls. If a standard container is framed out the electrical wiring and plumbing can be buried in walls and insulation applied over top of it, as you would in a traditional house or shed.

There are three commonly used types of insulation used in shipping containers, rigid foam, spray foam, and rigid mineral wool. It's not recommended to use fiberglass insulation due to potential moisture issues.

Both non-working refrigerated containers and standard containers come in lengths of 20', 40', and 40' high cube. is an online marketplace where clients looking to buy refrigerated shipping containers can connect with the shipping lines, leasing companies, and traders that regularly sell them. To find a refrigerated, or reefer container, for sale in your area search by the map or drill down menu in the search engine. If no refrigerated containers are listed for sale in your area, complete the form and an active seller will contact you with more information.

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