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Standard Shipping Container Vs High Cube Shipping Container

Standard vs. High Cube Shipping Container: Which One to Choose?

Whether you are looking for a shipping container for rent or a shipping container to buy, you might be surprised by the number of sizes and options available. This can make it difficult to know where to begin. Adding to the confusion, you have a choice between a standard or “high cube” shipping container. Since both are identical in their overall appearance and makeup, you can’t go by appearance alone. Here we look at the differences between a standard and high cube shipping container to help you decide which one is best for you.

Standard vs. High Cube Shipping Container: Key Differences

Before we list the differences between a standard container and a high cube container, let’s start with some basic definitions.

What is a Standard Shipping Container?

A standard shipping container is just that: a shipping container of the standard size measuring 8’ wide, 8’6” in height and either 10, 20 or 40 feet in length.

What is a High Cube Shipping Container?

A high cube shipping container is a specialty shipping container offering an additional foot in height. All other measurements of the container are the same as a standard shipping container. The high cube shipping container is also available in 10, 20 and 40 foot lengths.

Standard versus High Cube: The Differences

As you can see, the main difference between the standard and high cube is that the high cube is taller. Since capacity is always a consideration for shipping containers regardless of how you intend to use them, let’s take a deeper look at the physical differences between the standard and high cube shipping containers:

  • Cubic Space: Cubic square footage considers the entire space in width, height, and length of the container. For example, if you consider the 40-foot container, the standard offers 2,350 cubic feet compared to the high cube’s 2,694 cubic feet. That’s a substantial amount of space whether you are storing or shipping items or intend to modify the container as a work or living space.
  • Size: High cubes only come in 20- and 40-feet lengths, while the standard also comes in 10 feet. All containers share the same width of 8 feet. However, where they differ is in height, with the high cube at 9’6” compared to the standard at 8’6”.
  • Weight: The weight of a 20-foot standard is about 4916 lbs, while the high cube is 5115. The 40-foot is 8160 lbs for the standard and 8750 lbs for the high cube.
  • Doors: Because of the extra foot in height, high cube doors are also a foot taller.

It’s important to consider how that additional one foot in height impacts how you plan to use your container.

Learn more about Shipping Container Dimensions and Specifications

When to Choose a High Cube Shipping Container

High cube shipping containers are traditionally used to carry lighter weight, higher volume cargo that tends to be over height. Experts usually advise avoiding bulkier loads for the high cube. They are recommended for the following uses:

  • Extra storage: This is kind of obvious, but nonetheless the most common reason people choose the high cube is for the added space. As mentioned above, that extra foot of height offers about 300 additional cubic feet for the 40-footer.
  • Taller items: If you have to store or transport taller items that cannot be laid flat to optimize the space, the extra “headroom” comes in handy.
  • Modification: If you are modifying your container for living or commercial space, the high cube is ideal. Things like plumbing and electricity, as well as insulation and ventilation all take up precious inches of usable space in offices and homes.
  • More headroom: As mentioned above, modified shipping containers intended for living space always call for that added foot for comfortable headroom.
  • More living space: Modified containers for living or business use are short on space, which means every square inch counts. With the additional foot in height, you improve your overall comfort level and create a more functional living/workspace to suit your lifestyle or business needs.

If you’re using your container for storage, keep in mind that large cubes can be a little more difficult to position, as they are more likely to interfere with other items above ground, such as cables and roofs. They are also more difficult to move due to their size and extra weight.

When to Choose a Standard Shipping Container

The standard shipping container works just as hard as the high cube and is best in the following scenarios:

  • Budget: Because the standard is smaller than the high cube, it is more affordable. If you want a budget-friendly storage option, the standard shipping container is the one for you.
  • Energy consumption: Smaller also means less energy consumption. So, if you need electricity, heating, or cooling for your container, you’ll see more efficiency from the standard shipping container than you would from the high cube.
  • Modifications: If you’re modifying the container for storage with electricity and insulation, it will be more cost-effective to use the standard as you’ll need fewer materials.
  • No headroom required: If you’re not using the container for working or living space, there’s no point in paying the extra costs for headroom you don’t really need. For storage, we always recommend looking at the interior cubic footage to get the most bang for your loony.

The standard shipping container shines in the storage and affordability categories.

Standard Vs. High Cube Shipping Container: The Final Choice

Because shipping containers are all about space, you should always consider how you intend to use that space when choosing between a standard and a high cube shipping container. You also want to consider whether you will be transporting or stacking your container, as in some cases, the high cube might pose issues.

Capacity is, of course, a major part of the puzzle. If you are modifying the container for living or workspace, that headroom is a major concern and, therefore, the high cube rules. But if you are using the container strictly for storage, modified or not, you should choose the option that suits your budget and capacity needs best. Both storage units offer the same features and benefits, with the high cube more suited to modifications for personal use and the standard ideal for cost savings and storage where headroom isn’t a problem.

Conterm is pleased to offer its customers standard and high cube shipping containers for rent and for sale. Contact us to discuss your project, we’ll help you find the right container to meet your needs.

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