The Cost Effectiveness of an Insulated Shipping Container
Similar to their refrigerated counterparts, an insulated shipping container is used to transfer a wide assortment of perishable goods throughout the world. Ranging from the large box-car style containers to smaller insulated shipping boxes, they tend to be slightly more economical than refrigerated models as they are not dependent upon a plug-in electrical supply, relying instead on reefer sets (also known as clip-on sets).
The construction of an insulated shipping container is designed to promote the continuous free-flow of air throughout the container. Specifically, air is continuously drawn from the top of the container where it's cooled and released back into the bottom of the container.
To achieve this, many larger models feature flooring made from grating and corrugated sidewalls. These two design essentials ensure that air circulates and remains at a fixed temperature.
Other standard features include:
- Swinging cargo doors (on one end) that provide access via full-opening
- Floors constructed from T-grade aluminum
- Foam insulation (3-inch standard), including flooring
- Heavy gauge plastic or stainless steel lining throughout container's interior
Do I need an insulated shipping container or a refrigerated model?
Truth be told, both of the larger models will protect your goods with pretty much the same level of reliability. And while there are more similarities than differences between the two, an insulated shipping container provides a slight benefit to those who don't want to rely upon a plug-in power supply to keep the refrigeration unit running. Examples would be if the container has to sit on a dock, in a yard, or outside the exterior of a building for extended periods of time.
However, it should be noted that many insulated shipping containers do not comply with ISO restrictions on size due to the clip-on set. They are therefore not as popular with those who ship voluminous quantities of goods, opting instead for refrigerated units.
Do I really need a shipping container that's the size of a semi truck?
Those who do business in the food or biomedical industry routinely ship heat-sensitive products in shipments that wouldn't warrant a full-size insulated shipping container. For these smaller shipments, there are a diverse set of smaller options that make use of polyurethane insulation and dry ice, though shipping with dry ice may be the more costly of the two due to weight.
Insulated shipping boxes utilize a system that provides advanced protection against heat damage as well as freezing temperatures while also remaining durable enough to withstand rough handling that can often occur on lengthy shipments.
In addition to polyurethane, these systems include washable, weather-resistant nylon shells that feature foam insulation, protecting frozen products while remaining lightweight and smaller in size. In fact, insulated shipping boxes start at .17 cubic feet and go all the way up to pallet-size containers.
Shipping high-value or extremely perishable items?
In cases like this, where you're shipping costly food or medical supplies, many manufacturers will use a combination of the larger shipping containers and smaller insulated shipping boxes, ensuring that if one system should fail - even just for an hour or two during loading or unloading - the contents will not be affected by a drop in temperature.
What you'll pay
Due to the insulated enhancements, these models cost slightly more than a standard shipping container. Yet they're still nowhere near the cost of a refrigerated unit (which can top $30,000 plus). For common insulated containers, you can expect to pay:
- 20' x 8' x 8.5' - $3,000 to $7,500 new; $2,800 to $4,800 used
- 40' x 8' x 8.5' - $4,200 to $15,000 new; $2,650 to $6,900 used
And remember, this will not include delivery, which runs at least $75 to $250 and above, depending on the mode of transportation and your location.Ready to Compare Storage Containers Price Quotes?