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Shipping Container Dimensions

Posted in Guides

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The world of containers can be surprisingly daunting at times. Just considering shipping container types and sizes, there are many choices. You have to decide between 20-foot and 40-foot containers, standard and high cube containers, as well as refrigerated, open-top, platform, and tank. To simplify this decision making process, we will cover some of these in more detail.

By far the two most popular containers you will come across are the standard 20-foot shipping container and the standard 40-foot shipping container. Since these are the most common, most of this information will be about these.

20-Foot Shipping Container Dimensions

The standard 20-foot shipping container is popular because they are most common, easier to maneuver, and due their size can be easily combined and modified to create exceptional living spaces.

We can see the size of this shipping container below:

  • External
    • Length: 20′ 0″ | 6.06m
    • Width: 8′ 0″ | 2.44m
    • Height: 8′ 6″ | 2.60m
  • Internal
    • Length: 19′ 2″ | 5.84m
    • Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.35m
    • Height: 7′ 9 ″ | 2.39m
    • Floor Area: 144 Square Foot | 13.3 Square Meters
    • Volume: 1,169ft³ | 33.1m³
  • Door Opening Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.34m
  • Door Opening Height: 7′ 5″ | 2.28m
  • Weight: 4,840lb | 2,200kg

Advantages and Disadvantages of 20-foot Containers

The 20-foot containers have one distinct advantage over the 40-foot containers. They are significantly easier to transport and maneuver. If you’re thinking of constructing a container home in a remote, difficult to access location, then the 20-foot container is probably the best bet for you! They are also less expensive than the 40-foot containers.  If you are on a limited budget, the 20-foot containers will be a better choice.

However, the 20-foot containers do have some disadvantages. First, each container offers a floor space of around 144 square feet. If you need a larger space your only option would be to combine two containers together. This is doable but will require additional time, organization, and expense.  Second, although individually they are cheaper than 40-foot containers, their price per square foot is actually more expensive. If you are considering constructing a large building or home, and your land has suitable access, the 40-foot containers are a better value.

40-Foot Shipping Container Dimensions

The other common shipping container is the 40-foot container. The majority of large shipping container homes have utilized these containers. They offer exceptional value for money and considerable interior space. We have detailed the dimensions of the container below for your reference.

  • External
    • Length: 40′ 0″ | 12.2m
    • Width: 8′ 0″ | 2.44m
    • Height: 8′ 6″ | 2.60m
  • Internal
    • Length: 39′ 5″ | 12.03m
    • Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.35m
    • Height: 7′ 9 ″ | 2.39m
    • Floor Area: 300 Square Foot | 28 Square Meters
    • Volume: 2,385ft³ | 67.5m³
  • Door Opening Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.34m
  • Door Opening Height: 7′ 5″ | 2.28m
  • Weight: 8,360lb | 3,800kg

Advantages and Disadvantages of 40-foot Containers

Due to the 40-foot container’s size, there is more than 300 square feet of usable space in the interior. We’ve previously shown in How Much Do Shipping Container Homes Cost, examples of homes which have been made from using only one of these 40-foot containers. Another advantage you have when using the 40-foot containers is that they represent greater value for money overall when compared to a 20-foot container. Because they are considerably longer you have the option to divide the container up into multiple rooms which you cannot do with the smaller 20-foot containers. “Heavy Tested” containers can hold over 60,000 pounds, so you shouldn’t have to worry about anything you place inside it! Of course, because they are larger you typically need fewer of them, delivering and laying them in place is quicker.

However, 40-foot containers are more expensive to transport and delivering these to remote locations can be challenging. They are also difficult to maneuver, so make sure you know exactly where you want them placed on your land before they are delivered.

Other Types of Shipping Containers

High Cube Containers

If you are looking for slightly more height for your home, then a great option is a high cube container. High cube containers have the same width and length dimensions as the standard containers listed above, except they are an extra foot taller. This extra height will allow you to place all your electrical wiring, water pipes, etc., near the ceiling and still maintain a ceiling height of eight feet. However, high cube containers aren’t as common as standard containers so they tend to be more expensive.

20-foot High Cube Container Dimensions:

  • Internal
    • Length: 19′ 2″ | 5.84m
    • Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.35m
    • Height: 8′ 8″ | 2.64m
  • Door Opening Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.34m
  • Door Opening Height: 8′ 4″ | 2.54m

40ft High Cube Container Dimensions:

  • Internal
    • Length: 39′ 5″ | 12.03m
    • Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.35m
    • Height: 8′ 8″ | 2.64m
  • Door Opening Width: 7′ 8″ | 2.34m
  • Door Opening Height: 8′ 4″ | 2.54m

Open Top Containers

Open top containers are pretty self-explanatory. They are essentially the exact same as the containers mentioned above except, they don’t have a roof on them. You can get open top containers in both the standard 20-foot or 40-foot size and also 20-foot high cube and the 40-foot high cube container sizes. Open top containers aren’t typically used when building container homes because they need modifying in order to be habitable. They need a roof!

US 45-Foot Containers

The last variant of shipping containers we are going to discuss today is the 45-foot container, which is mostly used in the US. The 45-foot container shares the same dimensions as the 40-foot containers with regards to its width and height however it’s an additional five feet longer. We’d normally say if you aren’t desperate for the room, then don’t go out of your way to look for these. You will spend significantly more money for the extra five feet of space.

Some Concluding Remarks

We hope you are now in the best place possible to think about selecting the container type, or types, that you are going to be using. There are no hard and fast rules when selecting your container. However, sometimes your location means only certain types of containers are readily available or it means you can access a promotional price, which makes the decision for you!

Remember that manufacturers have slightly different tolerance levels, normally +/-5 mm,  so make sure you contact the supplier to get the exact dimensions. Uses the dimensions listed above as a general rule. All shipping containers should be made in compliance with ISO 668:2013 – Series 1 freight containers — Classification, dimensions and ratings, so take a look at the standards if you need classification information.

We’d love to know which container type you’ve chosen to use. Let us know in the comments area below.