Shipping Container Quick Guide: What Size Is Right For Me?

From their humble beginnings back in the 50s shipping containers have grown in prominence to become one of the most important inventions of all time and an important contributor to the global economy. Containers have also gained popularity beyond their traditional domain of shipping and have permeated into other industries including construction, storage and even retail. For these reasons, shipping containers have become a hot commodity globally.

If you find yourself in the market for a shipping container, then you’ll need to make several considerations to ensure that you get a shipping container that fits your needs. One of the most important decisions you will need to make before hiring or buying a shipping container is size.

Sizes to fit them all 

Like most things in the market, shipping containers are also available in different sizes in order to cater to varying customer needs. The different shipping container sizes are:

· 40ft shipping container. This is the largest standardised shipping container available for sale globally. It offers the most space you can get from a cargo container.

· 20ft shipping container. The 20ft cargo container stands at the middle of the container size spectrum. It’s moderately sized at twenty feet – the ‘medium’ size, if you rather.

· 10ft shipping container. At the very bottom of the size spectrum is the 10-footer, the smallest shipping container available in the market. 

Although these are the main cargo container sizes, other non-standard sizes do exist in confined markets such as the united states where cargo containers can be as long as 53 feet. It’s also common to find custom made sizes that range anywhere between 5ft and 60ft.

It’s also worth mentioning that 20ft and 40ft sea containers are also available in a high-cube variant that offers an extra foot of headroom in addition to the standard 8ft 6in of an ordinary container.

What to consider when choosing a shipping container size

In order to select a shipping container that has the ideal dimensions for your needs, you will need to think over a couple of factors before you go ahead and pull the trigger to either purchase or hire a shipping container unit. Here are the things to consider when choosing a shipping container size:

1. Space demand. Whether you want to use your sea container for shipping, storage or construction; you’ll definitely have an idea of how much stuff you need to fit in it. If you haven’t thought about this yet, then it’s the perfect place to start when figuring out which container size is ideal for you.

Identify everything you need to put inside your shipping container unit and then calculate how much space the stuff will take up. From there you can work backwards to find out which container length can provide the volume you require.

2. Container storage space. Once you come into possession of a shipping container, you will need to place it somewhere convenient where you can access and use it. As such, you’re limited to only select a cargo container that will fit the space you have available to keep the container in.

Do some investigating and find a location to place your shipping container before hand and use the dimensions of this space to guide your container-size choice. If quick accessibility is not critical, then the problem of space limitation can be overcome by renting a yard to store your container in.

3. Future flexibility. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the exact amount of space you require in a shipping container. Or, you might be anticipating your needs will change with time and you might need something bigger.

If you anticipate that your space requirements might increase in the future, then the prudent thing to do would be to buy a container that is much larger than what you currently require to allow you headroom – just in case. This will ultimately save you money as you won’t have to buy an additional container unit to cater for new demand for space.

4. Budget. As you might have figured, shipping containers vary in price depending on their size – pending other factors, of course. The larger the shipping container, the more it will cost to buy. And if you’ll be footing the delivery bill, then larger cargo containers will generally cost more to transport.

Your choice when it comes to the size of the cargo container you get will therefore be influenced by what you can afford. You’ll need to calculate how much everything will cost you and then compare that to the budget you have set aside for the project. The best size shipping container in this case will be the one you can afford.

5. Delivery. Some cargo container suppliers offer a storage service within their yards which eliminates the hassle of delivery. But if you’re going to use the shipping container at your premises or in some other location, then it’s necessary that you consider the logistics.

Larger cargo containers will obviously require larger vehicles to transport them to their location of use. 

So, you might have adequate space to store a large cargo container in, but access to your selected space could be limiting to large vehicles. In such a situation, you would be limited by the logistics of delivery to choose a container that can fit your access route. Hence the need to consider the route for delivery when selecting a sea container size.

For users who find themselves needing a large shipping container but are limited by the space available for storage or the delivery route, stacking provides another alterative to offsite storage. You can stack two or three cargo containers of any length and create a vertical space instead of going horizontal.

To someone buying a cargo container for the first time, the process of choosing the right size can feel like a difficult one, and fears of making a mistake are common. By following the above guideline and making these important considerations, you’re sure to get the ideal shipping container size for your requirements.





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