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Refrigerated Storage Containers: 2022 Rental & Purchase 

Refrigerated shipping containers, also known as REEFERs, are portable shipping containers equipped with refrigeration units designed to keep the containers’ internal temperature constant.

Typical 20ft cold storage containers cost between $30-$80/day or $1000-$2,500/month to rent. In comparison, ‘used’ refrigerated storage containers cost around $4,000 to buy, while a ‘new’ one costs between $5,500 and $7,000.

Remember that these figures are estimates, and your business requirements will affect the actual quote you receive. If you’re considering talking to suppliers who have portable cold storage units for sale or rent in your state, give us a call or complete the form on the top of this page.

REEFERs differ from standard shipping containers. They have an electrically powered temperature control unit attached to the container to keep the cargo at a set temperature, either cold or warm. The usual temperatures that most common refrigeration units maintain range from -13°F to 77°F (-25°C to 25°C). However, in general, the possible available temperatures range from -85°F to 104°F (-65°to 40°C). 

Refrigerated Shipping Container Types 

Most refrigerated storage rentals come in two standard lengths, 20ft, and 40ft. However, if you need a custom length, they can be made to order. But, they will cost considerably more. 

Climate-controlled containers connect to power outlets to operate the temperature controller. Onboard ship and laid up in port, the connections will be via power outlets (known as REEFER points) provided for this purpose. In contrast, when the cold storage units are in road transit, they’re connected to a diesel-powered generator on the back of a truck.  

To cover all available options, many REEFERs have adapters for 3-phase and single-phase power options (230V or 460V) to accommodate the various types of electrical connections that might be available 

Generally, the temperature control units maintain a constant temperature within the container by using the special T-shaped floor members and distinctive cargo loading patterns.  Thus, allowing free temperature-controlled air circulation around the freight. 

Diesel Temperature Control Systems 

When REEFER points aren’t available, a diesel-powered generator runs the refrigeration unit. Thus, maintaining the inside air at the correct temperature. These are useful when the container stands in a land-based storage yard without REEFER points. Or when it’s transported on the back of a truck. Usually, you can hire a suitable diesel generator and your refrigerated container rental from the same supplier. 

Advantages of this type include: 

  • Portability. The REEFER can be parked just about anywhere. 
  • You can buy the fuel from any gas station. 
  • A generator can usually supply both single or 3-phase electricity. 

Disadvantages include: 

  • The generator emits toxic exhaust fumes, so you can’t operate it indoors. 
  • Someone has to keep an eye on fuel levels and ensure the generator doesn’t break down. 
  • They’re loud. Often the noise levels exceed the permitted decibel levels for most inner-city and residential areas. But you can also hire an acoustic cabin to reduce noise leakage. 
  • Diesel-powered control systems are usually more expensive than electric ones.  

Electric Atmosphere Control Mechanisms 

When purchasing a REEFER, ensure the temperature control unit runs off a suitable power supply that you have available. 

Advantages of this type include: 

  • Low maintenance. 
  • Cheaper to run. You can save from $400 to $1,200 per month by choosing an electrically powered unit (depending on the price of diesel fuel and electricity). 
  • The unit won’t run out of fuel, and you don’t need someone to check on the generator continually. 
  • An electrically powered unit is quieter to operate than a diesel generator. 

Disadvantages include: 

  • The storage area must have a REEFER point supplying mains electricity. 
  • The storage yard might have REEFER points not compatible with your cooler. For example, they might only supply 3-phase while your container requires a single-phase supply.  

Integrated Refrigerated containers 

An integrated container has the refrigeration unit attached to the container box and is included within its size footprint. Although this arrangement simplifies climate control, the refrigeration unit takes up valuable cargo storage space. 

Usually, the last two feet of space at the end of the container holds the refrigeration equipment. Although this might not sound a lot, it’s up to 5 to 10% of the container’s floor area.  

The main advantage is that everything sits within the REEFER’s footprint, allowing ease of maneuverability and less wasted space if being carried by ship. 

Clip-on’ or External Refrigerated containers 

This type of container has the refrigeration unit attached temporarily at the end of the container. The refrigerated air is then fed from the machine via portholes and ducting into and out of the container. Although you have the REEFER’s full volume at your disposal for cargo storage, the clip-on refrigerator increases the container’s footprint, which often adds to the overall transportation cost. 

Why Rent Refrigerated Storage? 

The purpose of using a REEFER is to maintain your cargo at a specific temperature. If it doesn’t do the job, then your shipment spoils. Your freight might belong to one of many different industries. However, we’ll discuss these more in the next section. But, for now, we’ll assume that your REEFER maintains dairy products, such as cheese, at a temperature of -4°F (-20°C). If for any reason, the refrigerating equipment breaks down for an appreciable time, then your cargo will be ruined. Many cheese manufacturing facilities keep REEFERs permanently linked to the factory for storing the cheese-making raw materials. But, in practice, this could be many types of temperature-sensitive material from many different industries. 

If your company prefers buying its equipment, you will need an industrial refrigeration maintenance contractor on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And they will charge premium rates for that privilege. However, a refrigerated container rental agreement will include repair and maintenance terms, usually free of charge for a certain length of time. Moreover, this is probably the main advantage to renting compared to purchasing. 

Industry Usage 

Many types of industries use REEFERs to store and transport their product or raw materials. Here are just a few of the various applications. 

Food distribution 

Many foods such as fruit and vegetables, dairy, fish and meat, and ready made meals need storage at specific temperatures to prevent degradation. A REEFER is probably the best and most efficient method to transport between producer and retail outlets. And, the container can be transferred between ships and trucks with no change in temperature. 

Pharmaceuticals 

Vaccines and many other medical products such as diagnostic kits, drugs, and blood plasma must be kept in a strictly controlled environment.  A refrigerated container is perfect for this. 

Beer and wine 

Beverages such as beer and wine need temperature-controlled transportation and suitable storage facilities. A REEFER will provide controlled humidity, darkness, and a constant temperature maximizing the beverages’ lifespan while protecting them from oxidizing ultraviolet light and heat. 

Seafood 

You must keep seafood in a clean and temperature-controlled environment at all times. A REEFER has hygienic interior surfaces made from stainless steel and other washable materials. And, it provides an enclosed environment from fishmarket to consumer. 

Transportation of Refrigerated Containers 

Okay, so you want to know how we handle your order and transport the refrigerated container to you. 

Phone us or complete the form on this page, and we can thoroughly discuss your business requirements. Talk to a member of our sales team (even if you want a rental), who can help you choose the correct REEFER for your purpose.  

Once we’ve decided on the right one, we can work out its availability and where you want it delivered. If all goes well, we can usually deliver within 12 to 24 hours. But, generally, we’ll arrange a mutually convenient delivery date that suits your schedule. 

Then, the delivery driver drops off the container exactly where you need it, so you don’t have to worry about moving it yourself. All we ask is that you have a relatively flat and horizontal place reserved for it. Ensure about 3 feet of space around the refrigeration unit to allow sufficient ventilation for the machinery. Finally, you’ll need a licensed electrician to connect the REEFER to your electricity supply. But don’t worry, we can send you the container’s electrical details beforehand, so you’re prepared. 

From now on, you can use the REEFER, knowing that as long as you maintain the rental payments, we’ll keep the unit operating properly at the required temperature. 

When the time comes to finish the lease, get on the phone and arrange a convenient day and time, and we’ll be there to collect and remove the REEFER. One more thing, trucks large enough to deliver a storage container need plenty of room to maneuver into place with the container. So make sure there’s nothing in the way to obstruct this. We can let you know how much space our driver needs when the time comes. 

Additional Accessories? 

If you only want a REEFER for transportation, you only need room for pallets. However, if it’s storage you’re after, you’ll need various accessories to have full use of your refrigerated container rental. Don’t worry; we can supply these too. 

Padlock protector and lock 

Although the container needs a padlock, it makes sense to use the best you can afford. Your cargo is valuable. So, you must protect it while the container is in transit or when it’s stationary in the yard. We supply tamperproof and corrosion-resistant padlocks that are easy to use and look good too. They won’t need any maintenance and comply with the appropriate codes. 

Container shelving

Suppose you intend to use the REEFER as a storage space. In that case, you might need standalone shelves or shelves fabricated into the container’s structure. If you tell us what type you need, we can advise you on the most cost-effective solution to your problem. 

Electrical fittings 

Many of our customers need lighting and power points installed inside the container. We can supply a container wired to your specifications without piercing the REEFER’s skin with screws or rivets. Or, if you’ve bought the container, we can supply approved electrical components suitable for your certified electrical contractor to use. 

Access ramps 

Every shipping container has a lip of about 7 inches between the outside and inside floor level. Depending on the type of container and your cargo, we have access ramps available to ensure moving goods is safe, convenient, and easy. You can choose the ramp you want from our wide range. 

Support legs 

Suppose the loading bay at your premises is the height of a standard truck. In that case, you must have the container raised and supported by suitable legs to make access easier and safer. We can supply the right supporting legs designed to fit your container and giving a range of height adjustments. 

Air curtains 

Suppose you have the REEFER’s main doors continually open. In that case, the inside temperature must not move outside the safe range. Air curtains provide a barrier of moving air, heated or cooled to maintain the container’s interior within the correct temperature range. 

Industrial plastic curtains 

These PVC strip curtains create a temperature seal at the entrance to the container. They keep the cold or warm air inside while allowing free movement of personnel across the opening. They also help prevent flying insects from entering the container. 

Acoustic cabins 

Refrigeration units fitted to REEFERs usually create noise at a decibel reading higher than is permitted in residential areas and other locations with strict noise controls. Acoustic cabins reduce noise emissions to permitted levels 24/7, no matter where you place the REEFER. 

Twistlock 

If you intend to stack containers, you must lock them together using twistlocks. We can supply these. 

Mobile fencing 

You can protect your container from unauthorized interference by using portable fencing. 

Why Choose Us? 

We will provide you with a refrigerated storage container to suit your particular industry. Whether you want to buy or rent your REEFER, we have many different containers for sale or hire. Just tell us what you want it for, and we can advise you to ensure you get the most out of your refrigerated shipping container. 

Get in touch with us by phone or by completing the form at the top of the page.