Understanding the different container types and their dimensions can help you ship your cargo safely. Read this blog to find out about 12 different container types and how to choose the right one for your cargo. Also, learn how you can find your desired boxes at the best price.
With so many container types available in the market, it’s important that you choose the right one. In fact, it’s one of the most important business decisions you’ll make while arranging the shipment for your cargo. As only the right container can keep your cargo safe, pass the Customs, and save you money.
But what happens after you’ve decided on the right container? You can look in your network but it can get difficult to find your exact container type. Especially, if you need specialised containers or need containers in a specific size. And let’s not forget the lack of price transparency in the industry.
That’s where Container xChange can help you. On our container trading platform, you can find suppliers of standard and special containers in 2500+ locations globally. We have 50,000+ containers available, so there’s a higher chance you’ll get your hands on the container type you’re looking for.
Moreover, we offer 100% market price transparency. This way, you can compare the deals and choose the best one. Simply use the public search below to browse through multiple offers from 1500+ vetted sellers. Fill in your container type, location and click search to get started!
If you’re looking for a particular type of container and its dimensions, then you can simply select it from the Table of Content below.
How knowing container types and dimensions save you money
There are 12 types of shipping containers available in the container market.
Each of these containers is manufactured to transport a different type of cargo. For example, temperature sensitive cargo like medicines and food items can only be stored and shipped in reefer containers.
Choosing the right container not only keeps your cargo safe but also saves you money. If you use a standard container for medicines, you’re at higher risk of damaging your cargo and not passing the Customs. This can cost you both money and time.
It’s also equally important to choose the right container size based of the volume of your cargo. For example, if your cargo can’t fit inside a 20ft container, it’s better to choose a 40ft container. This way you’ll avoid using two 20ft containers and save money.
Read on to find out more about the most popular container sizes available in the market and how to choose the right one.
What are the three most popular container sizes?
As we have just discussed, knowing the right container type and size is important to your business. Now, let’s look at the popular sizes these containers come in.
The three most popular container sizes are:
- 20ft container
- 40ft container
- 40ft high cube container
Read on to find out which of these containers you should choose for your cargo.
As we’ve already mentioned, standard dry containers are the most common type of container in the market. These boxes can carry most types of dry cargo such as boxes, pallets, sacks, barrels, etc. They can also be customized on the inside to carry a specific type of goods. For instance, hangers can be fit inside to carry clothes that could be directly transported to the store.
Dry containers are available in two common sizes: 20ft containers and 40ft containers. These containers are usually made of steel or aluminum. Dry containers are also airtight and water-resistant, preventing damage from the outside.
20ft dry container
The 20ft container is popular due to its smaller size. They’re also one of the most affordable containers in the market. If you don’t have much cargo, choosing a 20ft standard container is the right choice for you.
You can get new 20ft containers for $2,000 on average. If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, then cargo-worthy containers are more suitable for you. You can get second-hand 20ft containers for as low as $900 in some locations on our platform.
If you have cargo that won’t fit inside a 20ft container you should choose the 40ft container instead. They offer more space for your cargo. As a result, many companies also use 40ft containers for storage.
It is also more cost-effective to buy one 40ft container than choosing two 20ft containers, as one 40ft container is just 30% more expensive than one 20ft. The average price of a new 40ft container is $3,500 and cargo-worthy is $1700. However, you can get cargo-worthy 40ft containers for as low as $1000 on our platform!
Dry container sizes and dimensions
To make sure your cargo fits inside the container, it’s important to look at the dimensions. Take a look at the table below to get the dimensions of 20ft and 40ft dry containers.
Dry container sizes
|Internal length||5.9m / 19.4ft||12.03m / 39.5ft|
|Internal width||2.35m / 7.8ft||2.4m / 7.9ft|
|Internal height||2.39m / 7.9ft||2.39m / 7.9ft|
|Tare weight||2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs||3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs|
|Payload capacity||25,000 kg / 55,126.9 lbs||27,600kg / 61,200 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||33.2 m3 / 1,172 cu ft||67.7 m3 / 2,389 cu ft|
High cube containers
High cubes, in short HC, are actually similar in structure to dry containers. The length and width remain the same but the height increases by 1 foot. This enables them to meet more cargo demands.
High cube containers come in three sizes: 20ft HC, 40ft HC and 45ft HC. Since these containers have additional height, they provide more storage value at their price point. They’re suitable if you need more storage for your cargo than a 20ft or 40ft container.
The average price for a 40ft HC container is around $2,100. Want to see the best deals you can get on 40ft HC containers in your location? Click here to connect directly with 1,500+ vetted suppliers.
High cube container sizes and dimensions
Here are the dimensions of 40ft HC and 45ft HC containers.
High cube container sizes
|Measurements||40ft HC||45ft HC|
|Internal width||2.35m / 7.8ft||2.35m / 7.8ft|
|Internal height||2.70m / 8.10ft||2.70m / 8.10ft|
|Tare weight||3,900kg / 8,598 lbs||4,800kg / 10,552 lbs|
|Payload capacity||28,600 kg / 63,052 lbs||27,700kg / 61,067 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||76.3 m3 / 2,694.5 cu ft||86 m3 / 3,037 cu ft|
It’s easy to get your hands on dry and high cube containers as they’re popular in the container market. However, you might end up paying more than the current market prices due to a lack of transparency in the industry.
On our online container trading platform, we offer you 100% market price transparency on shipping containers. Once you submit your requirement, you’ll get multiple matching offers from suppliers in one dashboard. You can compare prices from different sellers and choose the best one. Plus, we don’t charge any commission on sales!
Want to check our sales offers from 1500+ vetted sellers in your location? Simply click the banner below and start browsing container deals now.
Special shipping container types and dimensions
Now that you have an overview of standard dry containers, let’s take a look at specialized containers.
A special container is designed for goods that cannot be transported or stored in a conventional dry shipping container. These containers may have:
- Special positioning of the door(s)
- Special height and width
- Modifications to keep the cargo fresh
Now let’s take a look at different kinds of special containers and find out which one is most suitable for your cargo.
Reefer containers are container-sized refrigerators used to move temperature-sensitive goods. The flooring of the reefer container has a T-shaped decking that sends chilled air into the container. This makes sure there is consistent airflow among the goods. They can maintain any temperature between -30°C and +30°C.
Reefers carry temperature-sensitive items such as fruits, vegetables, ice cream, drugs, or meat. Each item has a different temperature requirement and it needs to be maintained to protect its freshness. The reefer container can be sectioned to cool and freeze at the same time.
It is powered by a generator that provides electricity. Reefer containers are expensive considering the power and maintenance requirements. The average price of a 40ft cargo-worthy reefer container is $6,700. Click here to check out the prices of reefers in your location.
Reefer container sizes and dimensions
Reefer containers are available in three sizes, 20ft, 40ft, and 40ft HC. Let’s take a look at the table below to get their dimensions.
Reefer container sizes
|Internal length||5.44m / 17.9ft||11.56m / 37.9ft||11.56 m/ 37.9ft|
|Internal width||2.29m / 7.5ft||2.28m / 7.5ft||2.29m / 7.5ft|
|Internal height||2.27m / 7.5ft||2.25m / 7.4ft||2.55m / 8.36ft|
|Tare weight||3,080kg / 6,791.4 lbs||4,800kg / 10,584 lbs||4,480kg / 9,880lbs|
|Payload capacity||27,400 kg / 60,471 lbs||27,700 kg / 61,078 lbs||29,520kg / 65,080 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||28.3m3 / 999 cu ft||59.3 m3 / 2,093.3 cu ft||67.3 m3 / 2,380 cu ft|
Double door container
Double door containers are built to have doors that swing open on both ends. Both sets of doors are built with the same specifications. The two doors provide the most convenient option for loading and unloading a container. As you can load and unload goods from either ends of the container, as required.
For instance, if you want to load a car, you can just drive it through a double door container. You don’t need to reverse it while unloading.
We have multiple sales offers for 40ft double door containers on our platform with the average price being $4,500. Click here to check offers on double door containers.
Double door container sizes and dimensions
Double door containers have three sizes, 20ft, 40ft and 40ft HC. Here are the dimensions of each.
Double door container sizes
|Internal length||5.9m / 19.4ft||12.03m / 39.5ft||12.03m / 39.5ft|
|Internal width||2.35m / 7.8ft||2.4m / 7.9ft||2.34m / 7.8ft|
|Internal height||2.39m / 7.9ft||2.39m / 7.9ft||2.69m / 8.9ft|
|Tare weight||2,300kg / 5,071.5 lbs||3,750kg / 8,268.8 lbs||5,200kg / 11,470lbs|
|Payload capacity||25,000 kg / 55,126.9 lbs||27,600kg / 61,200 lbs||28,600kg / 63,052 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||33.2 m3 / 1,172 cu ft||67.7 m3 / 2,389 cu ft||76.3m3 / 2,694 cu ft|
Open-top containers, as the name suggests, have an open top. The roof of the container is covered with a tarpaulin sheet instead of a solid roof. This way, it can be covered or left open according to convenience. The container is made of steel with wooden flooring and the door heads can be swung open for easy loading and unloading.
Open-top containers are used when your cargo is too large to fit in a regular shipping container. For instance, machinery or heavy materials that can’t be stowed sideways but loaded from the top through heavy-lifting cranes. These containers have larger capacities than the dry ones as the roof is open. It has lashing rings that keep the cargo stable. A 40ft open top container has the capacity to load 26,500kgs.
Open top container sizes and dimensions
Open top containers have three sizes: 20ft, 40ft and 40ft HC. Take a look at the table below for dimensions of each.
Open top container sizes
|Internal length||5.89m / 19.4ft||12.03m / 39.5ft||12.03m / 39.5ft|
|Internal width||2.35m / 7.8ft||2.4m / 7.9ft||2.35m / 7.8ft|
|Internal height||2.35m / 7.8ft||2.34m / 7.8ft||2.70m / 8.10ft|
|Tare weight||2,260kg / 5,982 lbs||3,980kg / 8,774 lbs||4,250kg / 9,370 lbs|
|Payload capacity||28,220 kg / 62,214 lbs||26,500kg / 58,422 lbs||28,250kg / 62,281 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft||66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft||74.9 m3 / 2,645 cu ft|
Want to see the prices for open top containers in your preferred location? Click here to check out availability and prices in 2500+ locations right now.
Pallet wide container
Pallet wide container is a special container designed to accommodate Euro pallets, commonly used in Europe.
A 20ft dry container can carry 11 Euro pallets, while a 20ft pallet wide container can carry 15 pallets. This is possible because the containers are approximately 5m wider on the inside than the standard ones.
These containers are manufactured from steel but the floor is made with wooden planks for higher durability and friction coefficient.
Pallet wide container sizes and dimensions
Pallet wide containers are available in three sizes. These are 20ft, 40ft and 40ft HC. The table below gives the dimensions of each size.
Pallet wide container sizes
|Internal length||5.89m / 19.32ft||12.03m / 39.46ft||13.55m / 44.5ft|
|Internal width||2.44m / 8ft||2.44m / 8ft||2.41m / 7.9 ft|
|Internal height||2.39m / 7.84ft||2.38m / 7.80ft||2.69m / 8.85ft|
|Tare weight||2,400kg / 5,291.09 lbs||3,800kg / 8,377.56 lbs||4,280kg / 9,435.7lbs|
|Payload capacity||28,080 kg / 61,905.80 lbs||26,680kg / 58,819.33 lbs||29,720kg / 65,521.38 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||34.34 m3 / 1,213 cu ft||69.86 m3 / 2,467.12 cu ft||86.2m3 / 3,044.12 cu ft|
Flat rack container
Flat rack containers only have sides on the short ends of the container. They are used for heavier and bulkier cargo that needs loading from the top or sides. Such cargo may include pipes, machinery, or even buses.
Flat rack containers are built with strong corner posts and reinforced frames in order to withstand heavy loads and provide stability during transportation.
The biggest advantage of this container type is its versatility. You can load a flat rack with almost any size or type of cargo as long as it meets the payload criteria.
Flat rack container sizes and dimensions
The table below shows the dimensions of flat rack containers in different sizes.
Flat rack container sizes
|Internal length||5.94m / 19ft||12.13m / 39.8ft|
|Internal width||2.35m / 7.7ft||2.40m / 7.9ft|
|Internal height||2.35m / 7.7ft||2.14m / 7ft|
|Tare weight||2,360kg / 5203.8 lbs||5,000kg / 11,025 lbs|
|Payload capacity||30,140 kg / 66,458.7 lbs||40,000kg / 88,200 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||32.7 m3 / 1,154.3 cu ft||62.2 m3 / 2,195.7 cu ft|
Flat rack containers are suitable for shipping specialized cargo. However, it’s difficult to get your hands on flat rack containers in your desired locations through traditional sourcing channels.
This is where xChange can help you. You can find multiple sales offers for flat rack containers on our trading platform – with the average price being $3000. Click here to check out sales offers in your preferred location.
Side door container
A side door container, also known as an open side container, has extra doors that open on the long side of the container. The side doors make it extremely convenient to load cargo that is bulky and can’t fit through the end doors.
More workers can work simultaneously while loading or unloading cargo, as the side doors give full access to the container.
Side door container sizes and dimensions
Side door containers are available in three sizes. Here are the dimensions of each.
Side door container sizes
|Internal length||5.9m / 19.4ft||12.03m / 39.5ft||12.03 m / 39.5 ft|
|Internal width||2.35m / 7.7ft||2.28m / 7.4ft||2.34 m / 7.8 ft|
|Internal height||2.34m / 7.7ft||2.29m / 7.5ft||2.69 m / 8.9 ft|
|Tare weight||2,700 kg / 5,950 lbs||4,700 kg / 10,362 lbs||5,200 kg / 11,470 lbs|
|Payload capacity||27,780 kg / 61,244 lbs||27,300 kg / 60,180 lbs||28,600 kg / 63,052 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||33.0 m3 / 1,165 cu ft||64 m3 / 2,2306 cu ft||76.3 m3 / 2,694 ft3|
If you too have bulky cargo and need the best quality side door containers, click here to find sales offers from vetted sellers in your location.
Hard top container
Hard top containers are very similar to open top containers with the only difference being a detachable steel roof instead of a tarpaulin sheet. The roof of a hard top container has points through which a forklift can lift the roof. As seen with the previous containers, this design allows for easy loading/unloading of specific types of cargo.
Hard top containers are especially functional for heavy goods and tall cargo — which needs to be loaded through the roof or doors using a forklift, crane, or crab. Cargo transported using hard top containers include marble, glass sheets, raw materials (like coal), large machinery, etc.
Hard top container sizes and dimensions
Take a look at the table below to get dimensions of hard top containers.
Hard top container sizes
|Internal length||5.89m / 19.4ft||12.03m / 39.5ft||12.03m / 39.5ft|
|Internal width||2.35m / 7.8ft||2.4m / 7.9ft||2.4m / 7.9ft|
|Internal height||2.35m / 7.8ft||2.34m / 7.8ft||2.69 m / 8.9 ft|
|Tare weight||2,260kg / 5,982 lbs||3,980kg / 8,774 lbs||5,200 kg / 11,470 lbs|
|Payload capacity||28,220 kg / 62,214 lbs||26,500kg / 58,422 lbs||28,600 kg / 63,052 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||32.7 m3 / 1,155 cu ft||66.7 m3 / 2,356 cu ft||76.3 m3 / 2,694 ft3|
Each tank container goes through a thorough inspection before it’s allowed to carry goods. The tank must comply with the size, durability, and strength as per the ISO standards.
Tank container sizes and dimensions
Here are the dimensions of a tank container.
20ft tank container size
|Inside length||6.058 m|
|Inside width||2.438 m|
|Door width||0 m|
|Door height||0 m|
|Tare weight||26290 kg|
Insulated containers maintain the same temperature inside the container, regardless of the temperatures outside its four walls. They’re also suitable for transporting temperature-sensitive goods.
Insulated containers often have a double wall. The walls are vacuumed to prevent the transfer of heat between the exterior and interior of the container. Moreover, the interior is fully sealed to avoid condensation and contamination.
One key difference between reefer and insulated containers is that reefers provide precise temperature control inside the container. Whereas, insulated containers only maintain the initial temperature.
Insulated container sizes and dimensions
Take a look at the table below if you want to know the exact dimensions of an insulated container.
Insulated container sizes
|Internal width||2.26m/5.7ft||2.28 m/7.6ft|
|Internal height||2.11m/6.11ft||2.249m/7.5 ft|
|Tare weight||2,650 kgs/ 5840lbs||4,800 kgs/ 10580lbs|
|Payload capacity||21,350 kgs/ 47070lbs||27,700 kgs/ 61070lbs|
|Cubic capacity||27.4 m3 / 970cu ft||59.18 m3 / 2090cu ft|
Half height container
Half height containers are designed to accommodate goods that are heavy but don’t require the full vertical space of a standard container. They are often used for transporting dense materials such as minerals, coal, and other bulk commodities.
Half height containers follow the DNV (Det Norske Veritas) standards. A DNV-approved half height container is equipped with slings, shackles, and multiple internal lashing points. There are also net securing points, cargo restraining nets, anti-slip surfaces, and forklift points for safety purposes.
A half height container also comes as an open top container for easy loading and unloading of cargoes. You also have the option to customize it with a removable side or swinging doors. You can also choose from a range of sizes that suit your needs.
Half height container sizes and dimensions
Here are the dimensions a 20ft half height container.
20ft Half height container size
|Internal length||19.3ft (5.88m)|
|Internal width||7.3ft (2.22m)|
|Internal height||3.1ft (0.94m)|
|Tare weight||2,378 kg/ 5,240 lbs|
|Payload capacity||10,000 kg / 22,050 lbs|
|Cubic capacity||12.25 m³/ 432.6 cu ft|
After discussing so many containers, you might be confused as to which one is best suitable for your cargo. Read on to know how to choose the right shipping container for your cargo.
How to choose between different types and sizes of shipping containers
Now that you know all about the different types and sizes of shipping containers, it’s time to decide which one is suitable for your cargo. Here are a few things to keep in mind while choosing the right shipping container.
- Type of cargo: Determine if your cargo is general, perishable, hazardous, or oversized. For dry cargo, you can choose standard containers. But if you’re shipping perishable temperature-sensitive cargo, you should choose a reefer container.
- Container capacity: Once you’ve determined the right container type, you should also pay attention to the container size. If you have only a few small items, then a 20ft container will be perfect for you. However, if you have a larger number of items or have a higher volume cargo, you should choose a container of bigger size.
- Cost of shipping containers: The most important factor to consider is the cost of shipping containers. New containers are more expensive than used ones. And specialized containers cost more than standard dry containers.
Moreover, shipping container prices keep changing and depend on a variety of factors. Read on to know how you can access real-time container prices.
Get real-time shipping container prices for free
Accessing container prices is important if you want to make the best container deals. However, prices of containers keep changing and depend on a variety of factors like condition, location and supply & demand.
One easy way to keep track of real-time container prices is through xChange Insights. With Insights, you can:
- Access real-time dry container prices in 110+ locations globally
- Identify the best cities to buy, sell or lease equipment,
- Make a good deal even in a new market, and
- Maximize your profits
For example, according to Insights, the price of a 40ft cargo-worthy container in Denver, Colorado is $3,000. However, you can get the same container for just $1,700 in New York. This way you’ll end up saving around $1000 on your container deal!
And the best part? You can use Insights for free! Click here to see how Insights works and how it can help your business earn more profits.
Source all types of shipping containers on Container xChange
Getting the exact container type at your desired location is quite tricky if you’re using traditional sourcing channels. Even if you do find the container you’re looking for, there’s no guarantee that you’re paying the right price due to the lack of transparency in the industry.
However, if you’re a member of xChange, you can easily trade containers with 100% market transparency. We’ve created an online trading platform that works like an online container store.
You can browse through various container types across conditions, locations, and prices. When you’ve set your eyes on a container, or a bunch of them, you can reach out to the seller directly and negotiate a price.
We have over 50,000+ containers at 2500+ locations. So there’s a higher chance you’ll get your hands on your desired container type. Moreover, we don’t charge any commission on container sales.
And once you finalize a deal with another vetted member, xChange wallet will ensure that your money is safe.
Sounds safe and convenient right? Just click the banner below and look through container offers in your location.
Container types and dimensions: Common FAQs
What are the different types of containers?
There are many different container types. Standard container types include 20ft dry container, the 40ft dry container, and high cube containers (with extra height). Specialized container types include reefer, pallet wide, tank, open top containers, etc.
Which container types are the most common?
Some of the most common container types are 20ft DC, 40ft DC and 40ft DC high cube containers. They are standard container types used for shipping dry cargo.
Which container is used for shipping temperature-sensitive goods?
Reefer containers or insulated containers are used for shipping temperature-sensitive goods. If your cargo is to be shipped at a specific temperature, then reefer container is your ideal choice. However, if your cargo can be shipped by maintaining the initial temperature of the container, you should use an insulated container.