Container homes can be made comfortable with the proper treatment. First, on a personal level, the user must be comfortable with the amount of space. For some, the container’s narrow width may give an anxious feeling of needing more space. This can be solved by opting for combining containers for a wider room. Metal is a great conductor of heat, meaning it easily transfers heat to its interiors making it uncomfortably hot. Proper insulation is needed on all surfaces of the container to regulate indoor temperatures. Lastly, the thin corrugated walls easily resonate sound, which can create a lot of noise. This can also be solved with proper insulation treatment.
Space in Container Homes
If having a cozy small space is ideal for you, if you’re the type that finds refuge in a cozy corner, or gets anxious when the space is too large to clean, then container homes are a great choice. However, if you’re the type that needs more space, you may not view the narrow widths and low ceiling heights as “comfortable.”
If portability and mobility are important to you or your job, then all the more will container homes give you a more spacious feel than trailer homes.
Container homes are often viewed as a singular container serving as the entire home. In a room eight feet wide, it’s hard to imagine a container being suitable for a family of four or five. Not to mention this box will grow a little tighter once all the insulation, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC pipes are installed. (1)
Do note however that container homes are increasingly being reinvented into being combined to create a larger width, or stacked to have multiple stories! This will totally take away from the preconception of a narrow container home and get to feeling like more of a stick-built home instead.
Heat in Container Homes
Shipping containers as they are can turn into a complete hot box. As metal is a great conductor of heat, it will absorb and give off heat easily. This makes indoor conditions either painstakingly freezing or scorching, both of which are highly uncomfortable.
To turn containers into proper homes, these need to be treated with insulation. The type of insulation will depend on your climate and budget. Because this insulation will need to cover all faces of your metal container, it pays to consult your local building professionals. (2)
“Blanket-style insulation will need an interior stud wall, while foam insulation can be sprayed directly onto the wall. If you are exploring a more green or sustainable alternative, consider sheep wool or even adding a green roof onto the top of your shipping container home.” (2)
Even with mechanical active strategies, homes need insulation to retain a comfortable temperature indoors. Metal in particular will readily absorb the heat from outside and heat it up indoors. The rate metal heats the home will be quicker than that of a home built with wood, vinyl, and aluminum siding. (3)
When the sun’s rays hit the metal surfaces, it is the first form of heat transfer, namely, radiation. During this, the metal aims to store heat but is unable to store as much heat as wood can. Therefore, the metal will then transfer the heat to the interiors via conduction. Lastly, through convection, heat transfers by the hot air rising indoors. This is why the top portion or upper storeys of your home will be the hottest. (3)
Throughout these heat transfer phenomena, there is also a loss of cool air escaping in the gaps and seams of our homes. Without insulation, the cool air will continue to escape while the hot air enters, making it uncomfortably warm.
Besides mechanical air-conditioning, you can also passively cool your home. This means implementing strategies that do not need the use of electricity and therefore will have a lower energy consumption. They may not be enough on their own, but they can significantly help reduce energy bills by helping your HVAC systems work less.
As previously mentioned, having the appropriate type of insulation greatly helps. This requires deep wall cavities perhaps in having wider studs. In these gaps can you insert your prescribed insulation, be it a batting blanket, fiberglass, blown-in mineral wool or cellulose, spray foam, and many more!
Light-colored roofs or those with a reflective coating are more heat-resistant in that they reflect heat than absorb it. Some roofing materials can reflect sun rays up to 70%, making your interiors cooler. Compare this to the standard asphalt roof that reflects only 30%, and the rest is absorbed as heat into your home. This not only reduces energy costs but also prolongs your roof’s life. (3)
Invest in your ventilation systems as these are responsible for having good airflow in your home. These include proper placement and sizing of vents, doors, and windows, that will be positioned in favor of the winds and not blocking them. Energy efficient appliances also give off less heat indoors, lessening heat generation. (3)
However, these strategies may not be enough to give you maximum comfort on your own. Not to worry as you still have an array of options when it comes to air-conditioning your container home. Check out our piece on it! Can Container Homes have Air-Conditioning? – prefabie.
Noise in Container Homes
Shipping container homes are extremely portable and can be taken almost anywhere. This means you don’t have to worry about noise causing an issue for your neighbors. This could be a real bonus for those who like to travel frequently, as it allows them to move from one location to another without worrying about disrupting their neighbors.
On the other hand, shipping container homes are not as sturdy or soundproof as some other types of housing. This means you may experience some noise from road noise or neighbors.
It is still a quest, but the noise situation of container homes can be alleviated.
Containers in themselves are not at all soundproof. In fact, you’d have to heavily insulate them from sound, as standing inside the untreated container in a storm can be a headache. Sounds will resonate throughout the container as its walls are made of thin layers of metal. Having a low mass, doesn’t block much sound and allows sound to pass easily. Worse, it can bounce, vibrate and amplify. (4)
Compare that to a concrete wall that has more mass, sound will not have the same effect.
A solution can be thickening your thin container walls with insulation. This can be padded with an acoustic material such as mineral wool. However, do note this also reduces your floor space. If you’re living in a single container, be mindful that the width will further narrow and what you can place within your home will be more limited.
You can get an idea of how walls are acoustically treated below.
Check out How to soundproof a shipping container for more detail on how to soundproof your walls, ceiling, floor, corners, doors, and windows!
- Common Myths About Shipping Container Homes | Sigma Container Corporation
- 12 Tips You Need to Know Before Building a Shipping Container Home
- Are Shipping Container Homes Hot? | 3 Best Ways To Keep Your Shipping Container Home Cool | Container Home Hub
- How to soundproof a shipping container.