There are various dehumidifying products on the market

Ahhhh fall, that time of year when people think about venting their container.  It's too hot, too humid, etc. It's the number 1 call I get this time of year for modifications.  I blogged about this back in May, 2013.  There are a few options to consider.

1. What are your concerns about the inside of your container? Containers are designed to transport goods across the globe in all kinds of weather, from hot, humid locations along the equator to freezing cold places like Alaska, or Minnesota, where we're located.  Most everything that you have in your home and office came to the store you bought it by way of a container.  They do a good job of keeping stuff the way it should be.  I find often that people worry that their container won't maintain a nice indoor atmosphere, but most things are OK in a container as is. But sometimes people are concerned due excessive humidity, heat an cold, or are storing things that produce fumes that need to be vented.

Fixed louvered vent

Fixed louvered vent

2. Are you worried about humidity?  If your main concern is humidity, a vent might not be the best option for you.  A container is designed with some small, passive vents that prevent pressure from building up in the container, but do not allow for much airflow.  As a result, when you close the doors of your container, it will stay the way you left it. That can be good or bad, depending on what kind of air you trapped in there. If you live in a high humidity area, the answer might be to not add a vent, but rather add dehumidifying products to suck the moisture out of the air.  By not adding a vent, you continuously pull and trap moisture out of the air and don't let new, humid air into the container.

There are a few products on the market that you can get at any hardware store that are cheap and easy to use. DampRid is one brand, but there are others out there.  The basic idea is the same. (We have used DampRid, only because that is what our local stores carry.)  They have pellets that pull moisture out of the air and trap it in a bucket, bag, etc., and depending on how humid your container is, you replace it every few weeks or months.  What I like about this option is that it might solve your problem without having to spend a lot of money or hurt your container.

Commercial-grade heating and cooling unit

Commercial-grade heating and cooling unit

3. Are you worried about heat and cold? If a temperature change is the issue, vents may or may not help.  For the cold, vents will only make things colder.  But for heat, sometimes some airflow in the container can lower the temperature in a container a bit.  It won't take a 100 degree container and make it something you want to cool off in, but the increase in air might help a bit.  To do this, louvered vents work well.  If you put one vent on one long side of the container by the doors and another one on the other side of the container on the other long side of the container by the other end of it, you will maximize the cross-breeze in the container.  This is the same idea as opening windows on opposite ends of your house to cool it down in the summer.

The other option is to add in an HVAC.  If you add an HVAC unit, you will probably want to insulate the container.  For more information on insulating containers, click here.  Containers are made of steel, so any heating and cooling will be lost quickly without insulation.

HVAC unit with cage

HVAC unit with cage

Conversely, I often get asked about insulating a container, but not putting an HVAC unit in it.  It doesn't work very well. It is like buying a cooler, putting your picnic in it without any ice or chillers, leaving it in a hot car all day and hoping for a cool meal.

4.  You are storing something that creates fumes.  This one is the most dangerous, obviously. The amount of air flow will really depend on what you are storing.  For some cases, the pair of louvered vents might work just fine.  But if it is something flammable or something where people will be spending a lot of time, you may need to consider a ventilation system.  It is best to find out from the manufacturer of the fumes what is the best way to handle that.

In addition to these ideas, there is always the whirlybird/turbine vent. I'll admit it. I just don't like them.  You're cutting a hole in the roof and putting a vent that pulls air down into the container.  So when it rains, it pulls the rain right down into the container.  It snows?  Same thing. It just seems like too much of an invitation for trouble.  I get some people just love this options, I simply am not one of them.

What are your concerns about venting containers?

AuthorSuper Cubes LLC

You have your eye on a container on either eBay or Craigslist, but your natural inclination to protect yourself.  What do you need to check to make sure it goes well?  Well, after the Hanjin bankruptcy, even more care than before.

Back in October of 2011, we posted Thinking of Buying a Container on eBay or Craigslist? 4 things to think about, a post about things to consider when buying from eBay and Craigslist. To recap, the questions were:

  1. Where is the container you want?  Moving the container long distances quickly negates any savings on a good deal.
  2. How will it be delivered? If they are including delivery, get the particulars so that it really gets to where you want it and is set on the ground, if that is what you need. If delivery is not included, can they put the container on a truck? Can a truck get in to pick it up?
  3. Is that the actual container you are going to get? You don't want to get sold on a beautiful container only to find out the one you get is a piece of junk with tons of holes.
  4. What about common sense safety?  Think about all the usual stuff you think about when buying on those sites. Since our original post, some police departments have set up safe zones for finalizing online sales in the real world. Unfortunately, that rarely works for containers. So use your common sense and protect yourself.

But what about this business with the Hanjin bankruptcy?  How does that change anything? Well, it would mean an increase of stolen containers on those sites. The news talked about ships and crews stuck at sea because ports didn't want to risk being stuck with the bills to offload those ships and the huge fees that come along with that. But that really is the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of Hanjin containers already in the US. Hanjin owns most of those containers, plus leasing lines own plenty of them too.

Those containers are stored in different cities throughout the US in private yards that the shipping line and leasing lines have contracted with for storage needs. And there are plenty of Hanjin containers that have already been sold by Hanjin and the leasing companies over the years.  This adds up to quite a few containers out there that in the container market. The vast majority of people dealing with these containers are taking great pains to make sure that these containers are not stolen or sold illegally.  But whenever there are this many containers out there and people know that there is turmoil, someone will try to exploit the situation. 

Most of those shady players will steer clear of the traditional container market.  It is easier for people who deal in containers on a regular basis to spot these stolen containers. They are vendors we have never heard of, or have containers from different series or prefixes that send off warning bells to us. But to people who do not buy containers regularly won't be in a position to identify stolen containers as easily. It stands to reason that these players will go to the eBays and Craiglist sites of the world to cash in on these stolen containers.

So what can you do? Find out if the vendor is a container seller or if they are doing this on the side.  Check if they are members of the Better Business Bureau or the National Portable Storage Association. If they are not a regular container vendor, I would not buy a container that says HANJIN on the side of it. There is also a question about leased containers. They will not necessarily say Hanjin on them, but could be containers stolen off of Hanjin ships that didn't belong to Hanjin, but do belong to a leasing line. Those are much harder to spot and confirm.  So if anything feels off about the transaction, we recommend erring on the side of caution. If they are a regular container vendor, check them out the best you can and make sure the company didn't just pop up in time to sell these containers and lack the usual basics - a website, a real address, a phone number, etc.

The bottom line is at least for the time being, use caution and common sense when buying containers from classified-ad and auction websites.




AuthorSuper Cubes LLC

A Night to Matter at Sun Country's cargo hangar.  The stage is set with containers and an airplane

Super Cubes is proud to support Matter, a non-profit committed to the health of people both globally and within Minnesota. Matter's A Night to Matter is their annual gala and fundraiser for the organization.  The gala was in Sun Country's cargo hangar and decorated with Super Cubes containers. 

This virtual reality booth was made from a leftover "tube" of container.

The venue was an exciting change for Super Cubes since we could finally bring in some containers to the event. In previous years we have all tried to figure out how to get them into hotel ballrooms.  Instead, we were able to convert containers into an entryway to the event and house a virtual reality booth where attendees were able to get 360 views of some of the global projects that Matter worked on in the past year.

Super Cubes brought in containers to help create a stage along with the front of a Sun Country airplane.  The program featured their Gorgui Deing Project: Senegal, a project that is bringing food, agricultural equipment and healthcare to Senegal with the help of Minnesota Timberwolves Gorgui Deing, and their New DAWN Africa project, which built a hospital in Dandora, a slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya. Gene Simmons received Matter's Humanitarian Award for his commitment and involvement with Matter.  Darius Rucker performed his solo work as well as some Hootie & the Blowfish favorites.

The two smaller containers were actually leftover pieces of containers from a previous customer project.  We had shortened some 40' high cube containers to be 25' and 28' high cubes. To do that, we cut off one end of the container, cut down the container, then reattach the end.  At the end of the project, we are left with a "tube" of container. We took those tubes, framed out the ends, put in corner castings to make moving them around easier and relaid the floors. Matter wrapped the containers in their marketing materials.

Here are some other pictures of the event.

And a bonus - Darius Rucker singing.

Here are some pictures of us bringing in the containers before the event.