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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,071

    Default How to Insulate a Shipping Container

    I would like to us a used (lightly) shipping container to build a honey house. My current shop is one of those 'roofing as all surfaces' metal contraptions which is completely uninsulated. Needless to say, it gets quite warm during extracting season when I have to keep the door closed to keep the bees out. I've clocked it at 109 degrees F and 98 percent humidity. It's great for getting honey out of combs, but no fun otherwise. It's also very cold in winter when I'm working on frames and boxes, but at least it keeps the wind off.

    So I'd like to have a better one which will also serve as my wood shop (building my own boxes) and a platform for a mess of solar panels. Most of all, I want to be able to take it with me when I move.

    I've seen a number of methods of insulating, from the usual wood framing with fiberglass batts to fancier things like foam boards and spray foams and such. I don't like fiberglass and given space limits, it won't provide much bang for the space it takes up and I'd like it to be as efficient as possible. Another one I've seen was using Icynene, open cell foam filling in wood framing. This option looks really good, but with winters around here at least occasionally able to form ice on the inside of windows, I wouldn't want water migrating through and rusting where I can't see. Polyurethane foam would probably be the best option but it is expensive. My brother has done two with foil faced foam boards on all sides with plywood on top and they seem to work well, but how would he know if moisture were getting through?

    Has anybody tried this? Any ideas?
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    michigan
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How to Insulate a Shipping Container

    Shipping containers are a bit narrow. Nothing you can't work with, but it can affect your choice of materials.

    Icynene is open cell foam, so water vapor can pass through it. You have to use a very effective vapor barrier under the drywall, but that's not that hard. Pay attention to sealing penetrations and you should be good. Shipping containers are generally made of a product called CorTen steel. It's designed to form a stable oxide layer upon exposure to the elements, i.e., stable rust.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weathering_steel

    Plus, they are generally painted with a good quality paint, which slows the corrosion process down further.

    I wouldn't bury one, they're not engineered for that anyway, but you'd have to work at it to have any structural problems in say...30 years if you control moisture at all.

    Polyurethane is r-6 per inch for the closed cell version. Only r-3.5 for the open cell spf (spray polyurethane foam). Extruded polystyrene is r-5. Icynene is "only" r-3.5 Spray polyurethane outgasses very little after the initial curing period. So basically, ventilate a lot the first 2-3 months, and then no worries. Certainly, it contains and outgasses nothing like formaldehyde like the old urea formulations. The closed cell version serves as a very effective vapor barrier. So, provided you don't get water intrusion from the outside, you should have no rust worries from migrating water vapor from the indoor activities. There are fairly straightforward ways of keeping a tightly sealed structure under slight negative pressure, which will tends to remove moisture from the insulation and framing structure, effectively drying it out and keeping it dry.

    What sort of outside temperatures would you foresee? What kind of indoor temps do you need to maintain? How to heat it? Any windows?

    The fiberglass bat industry has the best PR people in the world, and their product sucks like a hoover. If it get's damp, which is easy to do, the r-value drops like a rock. To attain its so-so r-values, it has to be installed perfectly and sealed perfectly, or nearly so. If it gets really cold out, like when you need r-value the most, the r-value of fiberglass plummets. Did I mention I hate fiberlglass??

    All things being equal, blown in cellulose beats fiberglass in virtually every category. It can't compare to the closed cell foams for high r-value per inch though...

    troy


    Finest regards,

    troy

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,071

    Default Re: How to Insulate a Shipping Container

    I get temps as low as -10. It would only be heated or cooled when I'm actually in it, and I think it would be awesome to have a small wood stove, but it may just end up being a window heat pump unit.

    I hate fiberglass too. Nasty stuff. I blew in cellulose in my house when I upgraded my ceiling. Also gets rid of mouse problems.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,834

    Default Re: How to Insulate a Shipping Container

    just an idea,
    instead of putting alot of money into insulating a shipping container, why not buy a reefer van and use it the same way. They are insulated and most all have a good washable floor in them

    I use an old sea can for surplus storage space added onto my honey house. Worked well at the time but as you mention, it heats and cools too easily
    I have often thought about replacing
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    5,071

    Default Re: How to Insulate a Shipping Container

    I have thought about buying a refrigerated container, but it would cost more than just insulating it myself.
    Solomon Parker, Parker Farms, ParkerFarms.biz
    11 Years Treatment-Free, ~25 Colony Baseline

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,834

    Default Re: How to Insulate a Shipping Container

    Here there is a row of them for $5000, by the time you buy 53' worth rigid board insulation and then a sealed covering your likely going to spend more than that
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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