Buy or Rent Refrigerated Shipping Containers | 10′ To 53′

The global refrigerated shipping market is estimated to have moved 110 million tons of fresh produce in 2017.

Refrigerated shipping containers move perishable goods around the world. They have many other commercial uses that can help grow your business.

We’ll look at the features of refrigerated shipping containers and some of the ways they can help you and your business. Then you’ll have the information you need to find the container that meets your needs.

Features of Refrigerated Shipping Containers

TUFF Shipping Container Buying GuideRefrigerated shipping containers, or “reefers,” are metal shipping containers with insulation and a refrigeration system.

A refrigerated container is a rectangular box made of corrugated weathering (“Corten”) steel. Weathering steel is more resistant to corrosion than regular steel.

Heavy-duty insulated cargo doors are on one of the short ends of the container. The refrigeration unit is located on the opposite end.

Refrigerated shipping containers come in 20-foot and 40-foot sizes. Refrigerated shipping container dimensions are the same as standard metal containers for the exterior: 20′ x 8′ x 8’6″ and 40′ x 8′ x 8’6″. High cube refrigerated containers have a height of 9’6″.

Although the exterior dimensions of refrigerated containers are the same as standard containers, the interior volume is less. Refrigerated containers can carry fewer goods because the integrated refrigeration unit and the insulation take up space inside the container.

Cold air circulates through the container from the bottom. To improve circulation, the floor of the container is grated. The corrugated walls also help with circulation.

Refrigerated Metal Storage Containers

Refrigerated metal shipping containers control both temperature and humidity. Many people don’t know that these containers can actually maintain temperatures up to 30º C. Modern containers can typically be set anywhere between -30º C and 30º C.

The refrigeration unit requires a power supply. When refrigerated metal containers are being transported by ship, they are usually connected to the ship’s power system. Generators are another way to power the refrigeration unit.

These features of refrigerated shipping containers make them ideal for transporting temperature-sensitive goods.

Common Uses for Refrigerated Shipping Containers

Refrigerated shipping containers have many commercial uses. Here are some of the most popular.


Not surprisingly, shipping tops the list of uses for refrigerated shipping containers. These containers are designed to transport perishable products.

The refrigeration unit can maintain temperatures up to 30º C, but using refrigerated shipping containers to keep cargo chilled or frozen is more common. Typical products that these containers transport include fruit, meat, flowers, and pharmaceuticals.


Refrigerated shipping containers have a broad range of storage uses. Here are 4 examples.

1. Temporary cold storage for events

Festivals, concerts, and other events need to provide food for their guests. A refrigerated shipping container keeps the food fresh and on-site. Containers are portable and can move easily from one location to another, which makes them especially useful for event storage.

2. Restaurant cold storage

Restaurants need a cold room for foods such as fruit, cheese, and condiments. Specialized cold room stores wine and other alcoholic beverages. Finally, walk-in freezer stores fish and meat. Refrigerated shipping containers can meet all of these needs on either a temporary or permanent basis.

Steel Shipping Containers

3. Seasonal food storage

Many businesses have times that are busier than others during the year. If cold storage is only necessary for the busy season, the business owner can rent refrigerated containers for the time needed. This is an efficient option in terms of costs and logistics.

4. Post-harvest storage for farmers

Fruits and vegetables need to be transported and stored with controlled temperature and humidity after harvesting. Refrigerated containers provide a convenient and cost-effective solution.

Disaster relief

After a disaster, the affected community needs products including food, water, ice, and medicine. Refrigerated shipping containers can be used to ship these items and then to store them on-site.

Refrigerated shipping containers fill a variety of commercial needs. In addition to shipping perishable goods, they can serve as food storage facilities and help aid in disaster recovery.

Buying vs. Renting

You can either buy or rent a refrigerated shipping container. How you plan to use the container will determine whether buying or renting is the best option.

For temporary uses of up to a year, renting is a good choice.

Renting is also a smart way to try out a container for your intended use. You can see how it works for your business without a long-term commitment. When the lease period ends, you will know if you need a larger or smaller size and if any modifications to the container would make it more useful.

If you plan to use the refrigerated containers on a long-term basis, buying them will probably be more cost-effective. You are likely to spend as much or more on rent than you would have spent to buy them in the first place.

Buying refrigerated shipping containers is also a good choice if you want to customize them. Modifications are especially useful if you’ll be using the containers for any type of storage. Buying the containers gives you more flexibility.

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Do I Need a Permit to Put a Refrigerated Storage Container On-Site?

Tuff Metal Storage Containers Buy or RentIf you plan to use a refrigerated shipping container for storage or other non-shipping purposes, you probably need a permit.

Legal requirements vary from place to place, so you will need to check your local building codes and zoning laws.

Getting a permit serves an important purpose. The building inspector will make sure that your use of a refrigerated storage container doesn’t have any health or safety concerns. The inspector will check things like the stability of the ground to hold the container, any risks of overturning, and the way the container is anchored in place.

The amount of time it takes to get a permit varies by location, so be sure to plan ahead.

Is a Refrigerated Shipping Container Right for Me?

If you have perishable goods to ship or store, refrigerated shipping containers could be just what you need.

A reefer will keep your products at the ideal temperature and humidity level during transport and storage. It will also protect your goods from weather damage and theft.

Whether you rent or buy your refrigerated shipping containers, they will be a great asset to you and your business.

Now that you know some of the advantages of metal shipping containers, you’re ready to take the first step towards buying or renting your own.