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Dimensions of A Shipping Container

Dimensions of a shipping container are important to understand because they come in different standard sizes.  Many people find that they need extra space for storing items at their home or business. A great solution is a shipping container that can be delivered and used on-site. These rectangular units provide safe and secure storage that can be used exactly where customers need them. Containers are shipped across the world and designed in standard sizes that allow them to be stacked. The dimensions were determined when containers first started to be shipped around the world and are important to customers who have different storage needs.

Standardization of Dimensions

Over seventy years ago, containerization occurred. Innovators like Malcolm McLean saw the potential in shipping goods in these units on large ships.  Stacking these boxes would allow ships to hold more and making it more economical. In order to do this, the dimensions of a shipping container had to be in standard sizes. The units would have to be taken off the ships and onto trucks or trains which could only handle certain sized units, another reason explaining standard dimensions of a shipping container.

At first, setting the dimensions of a shipping container was difficult because different countries used different systems of measurement. The Americans decided on a standard system of imperial measurements that included lengths of 10’, 20’, 30’, and 40’. The Europeans however, had a set of similar dimensions that fit to their roads and railways in metric measurement. By the 1970s, both the Americans and the Europeans came to an agreement and began to use the same set of standard dimensions.  Today, containers can be bought in sizes such as 20’, 40’, 45’, 48’, and 53’.

Delivery and Project Concerns

What do the dimensions of a shipping container mean to individuals looking to purchase these units? Delivery options are different depending on the size of the shipping container. People need to consider how to get their container from the vendor to where they intend on using it. 20’ containers can mostly be transported by trailers and even flatbed wrecker trucks. Longer containers are harder to deliver because very large trailers are necessary. In addition, truckers have to be careful of the height of their trailer because containers come in heights of 8’6” and 9’6”. Most containers will have to be taken off of a truck via a forklift or crane due its size and weight.

Depending on your project or storage need, the dimensions of a shipping container are important to understand. Clearly, a 20’ unit only contains half the space of a 40’, but there are other dimensions that are important to consider. All containers come at a standard width of 8’. For those cases where this causes a problem, there are some with open side doors. Most containers come at a standard height of 8’6”. However, if more headroom is necessary, the high cube can be purchased that are 9’6” tall. Open top containers are available for bulk goods that might not need safe and secure storage but need to be transported.

Using a shipping container can also be a great option for people who do not have a garage at their home or place of business. Cars can be stored securely in these units and will be protected from the elements. It is important to remember that a dimension that is advertised is almost always the exterior dimension and not the interior. The interior will be smaller than the exterior, and for containers that are 8’ wide, they would be 7’8”. This is very important for storing other heavy equipment such as forklifts and tractors.

Housing is a Convenient Yardstick for Comparing Size

A new trend is to build homes, offices, and museums from shipping containers. By using many of these containers, welded together, a comfortable, modern, and eco-friendly building can be erected. On average, an American home is about 2,700 square feet. If a home of the same size contains 20’ long containers, it would need about 16 of them. To make the same sized home containing 53’ long containers, it would only need about 6 of them. It could be more economical to build a home or business containing larger containers, especially when the dimensions of a shipping container would be modified.

In Conclusion

All potential consumers should be aware of the dimensions of a shipping container prior to obtaining one. Containers vary in height and length and can offer very different storage solutions. Customers should think about where they are putting their unit in order to make sure it fits and also, what they are storing in the containers if that can fit inside. By analyzing the sizes that they are available in, a customer will be able to purchase the best one for their situation.


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