Can Container Homes have Air-Conditioning?

Shipping container homes and structures (such as offices and retail stores) can choose from a variety of air-conditioning units to provide heating and cooling all year round. Just as a stick-built home, the economical window type unit can be utilized, a ducting HVAC system as well as more modern mini-split air-conditioning systems. The units will ultimately depend on the floor area needed to cool or heat and the budget, as more modern HVAC systems are stronger and quieter than older ones.

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There are a variety of air conditioners to choose from for container homes. It’s best to always consult your building professionals and manufacturers to get the right size and horsepower for your room area. Also look at it from a viewpoint of cost comparison when it comes to maintenance, long-term usage, noise generation, and energy efficiency.

Here’s an overview of the Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning (HVAC) systems you can use for shipping container spaces.

Window Air Conditioners

These are the most economical being compact and all in one package. They can be installed as an independent unit and are great for homes, offices, retail stores, and the like. These units can heat and cool and are commonly used by many. (1)

Window air-conditioners and portable air-conditioners are the cheapest but can be noisy. Take this into consideration when picking out a unit or its location in your space. (2)

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Through-Wall HVAC

These units are larger and more powerful, that one would need for larger spaces or when storing industrial equipment. These are particularly helpful for spaces that hold items that give off heat or are sensitive and need to be in a regulated temperature room.

Through-wall HVACs also take up less interior floor space, as the units are installed outside. This makes it viable for when the containers are divided into several sections. (1)

Ventilation Air Ducts

These units are often found in mini storage units or offices. These are advantageous when your container is split into several sections as the ducts conduct airflow throughout the sections.

Usually, these would be left exposed to retain the ceiling height. If the ducts were to be concealed, this would result in a much lower ceiling interior. (3)

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Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner (PTAC)

You may have seen these in larger spaces, offices, or hotel rooms. Though costlier than your window type air-conditioner, these remain compact with a stronger cooling power. What’s more is that their compact shape makes them easy to repair and replace by simply sliding the newer unit in, without cutting a hole into the structure at all. (4) 

“PTACs have 15 K cooling power, the perfect amount to keep employees comfortable in a ground level office – even on a hot summer day. Additionally, the PTAC size hasn’t changed for decades, making installation standardized and simple.” (4) 

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Mini Split Air Conditioner

These are quieter HVAC units since the heating and cooling are done by its outdoor portion, the compressor. This means the noise is left outside, while the indoor unit has a stronger heating and cooling power than that of your basic window type air-conditioners. These can be installed on several kinds of building types and structures. They provide an easy installation process, and most of the systems in the market provide a heat pump. This means the unit can heat while consuming less energy.  (2)

Key Cooling Points

For a larger overview, check out HVAC | Container Technology, Inc for all the different types of vents you can install in your container home!

Your type of air-conditioning system will highly depend on your climate. For sure, there are strategies to make your HVAC systems work less, naturally cooling your container. In harsher climates, these passive solutions need to be implemented along with your active mechanical air conditioning ones. For those in arid, desert climates, check Do’s and Dont’s of Building a Shipping Container Home in the Desert – Gateway Container Sales & Hire

Passive cooling strategies significantly help your HVAC systems by consuming less energy, therefore giving off less heat. The simplest passive cooling strategy is having your home under some sort of shade, whether that’s a tree canopy or a sturdy roof structure. 

Strategic placement of trees with dense foliage can also be located in a way it blocks the sun’s hottest rays from falling directly onto the house. The angle of the summer sun during its peak hours will be studied by your architects, who can then prescribe how best to landscape to protect your home. Having ground cover like grass and ground plants also help the ground radiate less heat into your home. This makes the air itself around your home much cooler than it would be if it were made with concrete or asphalt. (5)


  1. Shipping Container Heating & Cooling | MMPS (
  2. Air Conditioning for Your Container Home or Office –
  3. HVAC | Container Technology, Inc
  4. Shipping Container Air Conditioning, Heating, and Ventilation (
  5. Do’s and Dont’s of Building a Shipping Container Home in the Desert – Gateway Container Sales & Hire