A common misconception about standard shipping containers is that they all come insulated – lo and behold, not all containers are created equal! In fact, climate control and insulation are a commonly overlooked considerations when planning for a shipping container purchase. Similar to an attic or basement, insulation is necessary if one wishes to control the shipping container's temperature and moisture. Different types of valuables and products require different conditions to ensure their quality and longevity, so a one-size-fits-all approach should not be taken

In this article, we will explain insulation and explore four scenarios where climate-controlled containers are necessary to maintain the quality or longevity of personal belongings or products.

How Are Shipping Containers Insulated?

Insulation is a material specifically designed to prevent heat energy from moving through the walls, ceiling, and floor of a shipping container by trapping air or other gasses in a complex matrix of tiny cells or passages. 

Insulated containers prevent damage from unstable temperatures during long periods of storage or transportation. They also minimize condensation from rainwater or moisture finding its way inside the container. An insulated shipping container often has a double wall, which is vacuum-sealed to prevent heat and cold transfer between the interior and exterior.

Here are four scenarios where climate-controlled storage and/or transportation would be paramount in maintaining the quality and/or lifetime of valuable personal belongings or products:


If you’ve recently inherited antique furniture or artwork and are unsure of what to do with them, consider storing them in a climate-controlled storage container to avoid deterioration. The temperature inside the container should not fluctuate too much; if there are sudden spikes or drops in temperature, it can lead to cracks in paint or wood and damaged paper. Using a secure, climate-controlled shipping container for your precious items will also keep any light or pests at bay.


Pharmacies and pharmaceutical development companies rely on precise refrigeration and safe methods of storage for items such as blood, various tissue samples for testing purposes, shipping medicine, vitamins and some medical tools/supplies to hospitals and clinics worldwide. These supplies must be handled antiseptically as well as stored at specific temperatures and cannot simply be stored in a typical residential freezer or refrigerator. Portable storage units are secure and can be locked, assuring that the temperature remains at the designated controlled level. Refrigerated containers are also manufactured with food grade interiors that are easy to sanitize.


Perishable items need specialized containers to avoid them rotting or being spoiled. Insulated containers offer the kind of temperature control and protection to store these products.

You might be wondering – “what is the difference between a refrigerated container (also known as a ‘reefer’) and an insulated container? Excellent question! A reefer has refrigeration equipment that needs a 3-Phase power source. A non-refrigerated container is a large insulated box that minimizes temperature fluctuations although it doesn’t have an active refrigeration system. Take a look at one of the reefers we currently have on special.


Dry containers are the standard storage and/or transportation option for items that are not liquid, gas, temperature-sensitive, perishable, or hazardous if mishandled. These containers can typically transport any material or manufactured goods, regardless of size, quantity and shape.

Some common applications for dry storage or transportation include: 

  • Books and paper products
  • Furniture
  • Vehicle parts
  • Coal and stone
  • Clothing
  • Toys
  • Sand
  • Grains, sugars and salts
  • Building materials
  • Tools and equipment

Whether the shipping container is used to store belongings of different kinds or converted into a home or business, maintaining the right environment inside is critical.

If you have belongings or products that you would like to keep climate-controlled, talk to our Structures Team about modifying a shipping container!