Is it Possible to Control the Climate Inside a Container?

One of the most important aspects of shipping container storage or accommodation to consider is temperature control.

Shipping containers have grown in popularity as building material and standalone structures to be used for all kinds of purposes. Shipping containers are often placed out of service after only a single overseas trip and can then be reused as storage, mobile office space, tiny homes, and more.

These containers are extremely versatile, durable, sustainable, and cost-effective. They can be modified to suit virtually any requirements. Modifications can include outfitting doors, windows, flooring, shelving, lighting, plumbing, electrical wiring, ventilation, heating and cooling.

This article will explain the importance of climate control in a shipping container, and the options and techniques for controlling the temperature and air flow inside a container.

How hot do shipping containers get inside?

Shipping containers are made of steel and can get very hot inside – well over 37 degrees celsius. Though there is also a possibility of moisture build-up inside, taking proper measures to regulate temperature and improve air quality can create a safe and healthy environment for your possessions or even for yourself.

Extreme temperatures and unregulated humidity can cause damage and even be dangerous, which is why maintaining regulated humidity and temperature levels is crucial to avoid potential hazards and prevent damage. By ensuring proper ventilation, materials can remain in optimal condition, and chemicals can maintain their stability.

With controlled air quality, the proliferation of bacteria and mould can be avoided, creating a safe and healthy environment. It is essential to maintain a well-ventilated structure suitable for humans or animals to inhabit.

are shipping containers hot?

The challenges of regulating temperature and humidity in a container

Due to their metal construction, containers trap heat and humidity, and have very limited air circulation. They are, after all, intended to keep all kinds of goods secure from wind and weather damage during long international shipments.

This makes containers a versatile tool for transporting consumer goods. The repurposing potential of containers is also immense, and while repurposing containers may present some challenges, with some creativity and effort, these challenges can be overcome.

The steel construction of shipping containers makes them highly sensitive to extreme differences in temperature. Although they can warm up rapidly in direct sunlight, the availability to modify containers to regulate temperature still makes them a practical and efficient option.

The location of your container can also affect temperature and humidity challenges. Some experts recommend placing your container in a shaded area or out of direct sunlight, if possible. Depending on your needs, this may not be feasible, but take it into consideration when planning your container design and placement.

Also, containers should be placed on higher ground to avoid flooding and standing water that can lead to excess humidity and mould damage.

Options for controlling the climate inside a container

No matter what climate you live in, some degree of temperature control is necessary. There are several options for controlling the temperature and air flow in your shipping container storage unit or living space.

are shipping containers hot?


Whether you need refrigeration, temperature-sensitive storage, or comfortable living accommodation, insulated walls and floors are the key to maintaining steady ambient temperatures in your home or storage unit.

Gateway offers used and new 20-foot or 40-foot insulated containers that are perfect for florists, mobile produce and food vendors, office space, and living quarters.


Proper air circulation is important to creating a healthy and safe environment. Container ventilation is helpful in controlling temperature and humidity, reducing odours, and maintaining air quality. With shipping containers, you have a few different options for ventilation.

Gateway Containers can outfit your container with air vents or whirly birds (rooftop turbines) to help circulate the air. Windows also provide access to fresh air in your container, as long as they are properly insulated against outside temperatures.


Choose from portable and permanent air conditioning systems. Gateway can install air conditioning and all necessary wiring to suit your needs. Gateway also provides refrigerated containers ideal for cold storage, catering, and more.

Other tricks for keeping your shipping container cool during warm weather include painting the roof to reflect rather than absorb sunlight, and outfitting your container with a roof that will provide extra shade.


Likewise, you can choose from portable electric heaters or built-in baseboard heating for your shipping container. Because shipping container dwellings tend to be much smaller than other types of homes, they are extremely easy to heat as long as they are properly insulated.

Factors to consider when choosing a climate control method

So, with a wide variety of heating, cooling, and ventilating options, how do you choose the best options for you? The right climate control options for your container will depend on the type of container, where it’s located, and what you plan to use it for.

Size and layout of the container

The best heating and cooling methods for your container will be affected by the container’s size and shape. Smaller containers will require less energy to heat up and cool down. Portable heaters and air conditioning units may suffice.

Larger structures built from multiple shipping containers may require more extensive HVAC systems. Likewise, if your container is mobile, it might make sense to use portable heaters and AC while a more permanent structure might warrant permanent heating and cooling installation.


are shipping containers hot?

The necessary heating and cooling methods for your container will depend on where it is located. You’ll need to take into account the climate conditions of your container’s location, as well as its placement on the property. Is it in a desert environment? Is there ample shade? These factors will all influence the climate control methods you choose.

Purpose of the container

What will your container be used for? Who will use it? How much time will people spend inside? What kinds of goods will be stored there?

A workspace or dwelling should have windows, while a storage container may not need them. A food storage unit will need refrigeration, while vehicle storage will need a temperature controlled, well-ventilated environment.

Budget and maintenance requirements

Of course, you will need to consider practical concerns like your budget and maintenance requirements. Some heating and cooling methods are more expensive than others.

Ultimately, the best way to ensure that you choose the right climate control equipment for your container is to consult an expert. The team at Gateway Containers has experience selling and modifying shipping containers for numerous purposes. We can help you plan your container project from start to finish.

Examples of successful climate control in shipping containers

Container homes

Shipping containers have become popular as building materials for modern, prefab housing. They are often less expensive and faster to construct than a traditional home. And, they can be used to create anything from a minimalist tiny house to a multi-level compound.

With proper electrical wiring, ventilation, windows, heating and cooling, shipping container homes can be as comfortable as any modern luxury home.

Container workspaces

Shipping containers can be used as a portable field office, home office, a workshop, or training space for your business. People in Australia have even transformed shipping containers into climate-controlled greenhouses to grow their own food all year round.

Container storage units

Even if you don’t plan to live or work in your modified shipping container, climate control is still a concern. When storing documents, electronics, vehicles, valuable heirlooms, or other belongings inside a shipping container storage unit, temperature and humidity levels can cause damage to your things if not properly regulated.

Ventilation and temperature regulation can keep your valuable belongings in perfect condition for long-term storage.


Ventilation and temperature control are an important part of any shipping container project. When it comes to climate control, you have many options. You might wish to use any combination of insulation, heating systems, air conditioning, custom roofing, air vents, roof-mounted whirly birds, and windows.

Shipping containers can be fitted with custom modifications, or bought with certain features already installed.

are shipping containers hot?

The right climate control solutions will depend on your unique needs. Let the experts at Gateway Containers help you plan your container project. We’ll work with you to find you the right container and make sure it has everything you need to bring your vision to life.

Gateway Containers have decades of experience buying and selling new, used, and modified shipping containers. We buy directly from the shipping lines, so we have access to the best inventory at a reasonable price.

We work with clients in residential, commercial, education, mining, construction, and industrial applications. We also offer portable and onsite storage for short-term and long-term use.

From ideation to delivery, we will be your partner each step of the way. Contact Gateway for a free quote, and one of our experienced sales team members will get back to you within 24 hours.

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