Insulation for Shipping Container Homes

Shipping container homes are proven as sustainable housing and inexpensive sheltering options worldwide. It is an innovative housing option, that has great possibilities for expanding in the future. 

Image Courtesy: InSoFast-Continuous Insulation | Interior-Exterior & Shipping Containers

The shipping metal containers need to be insulated to prevent condensation within the space when it is converted into a home, office, or many other uses. Insulation for container homes provides fire resistance, weatherproofing, thermal insulation, vapor barrier, etc.

Let's discuss why it is necessary to provide insulation for shipping containers along with the various insulation options available currently in the market.

Insulation of Shipping Container Homes

When a shipping container home is insulated, the insulation separates the conditioned airspace from the outdoors. It follows the same principle that we use to protect all the enclosed structures from changing climates. 

Proper insulation of container homes helps increase the energy efficiency of container homes by decreasing the amount of energy needed to regulate the internal temperature. 

The steel walls of shipping containers absorb tremendous radiant energy from the summer sun, which increases the temperature of the air within the space. Hence, the insulation required for container homes is high compared to other construction types.

How Much Insulation for Container Homes?

Generally, the amount or thickness of insulation provided for container homes are merely dependent on the:

  1. Climatic conditions
  2. Required temperature inside the containers
  3. The thickness of the container walls
Based on the thickness of container walls, multiple layers of insulation can be provided to meet various purposes.

Types of Insulation for Container Homes

Based on the requirement and type of steel walls of container homes, the insulation for container homes can be provided in three ways:
  1. Exterior insulation
  2. Interior insulation
  3. Mixed insulation

1. Exterior Insulation for Container Homes

Exterior insulation involves insulating the exterior walls of the container homes, to protect against the effects of bad weather conditions. The thickness of exterior wall insulation does not decrease the interior floor area.
Exterior insulation for container homes provides maximum protection, eliminating the container effect. As the exterior wall area is large, exterior insulation is expensive.

2. Interior Insulation for Container Homes

Interior insulation is employed when the interior of the container home gives an industrial look. It is avoided, as it reduces the living space area. If provided, the interior insulation thickness must not exceed 10 cm.

3. Mixed Insulation for Contained Homes

Mixed insulation employs interior insulation in one part of the house, while exterior insulation in other parts. This insulation must be provided with proper planning and expertise because incorrect insulation creates excessive temperature variations and strong instability of thermal bridges.

Types of Insulation Materials for Container Homes

The various materials used for insulating container homes are:
  1. Spray foam insulation
  2. Cotton insulation
  3. Wool insulation
  4. Cork insulation

How to Choose Insulation for Container Homes?

The main factors that need considering while choosing insulation options for container homes are:
  1. Overall Performance of Insulation Material: The performance characteristics of an insulation type is dependent on the type of material, the entrapped gas, type of structure employed, etc. This can be studied by checking R-value, Air leakage, and the vapor permeability of the insulation.
  2. Cost of Insulation: Always take a quote for material and installation costs, including equipment, depending on whether the project is performed by yourself or by a contractor. 
  3. Eco-friendly Material: Check for materials that are more eco-friendly, as certain insulation materials have ecological impacts during their manufacture and installation.

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