We often talk about specialized types of shipping containers like flat racks, open tops and of course, refrigerated shipping containers. Today, we will focus our attention on refrigerated shipping containers, also known as reefer sea cans.

Reefer containers come in two standard sizes, 20ft and 40ft lengths; with the 20 footer measuring 8’6” in height and the 40 footer is a high cube container measuring at 9’6” in height. The way these containers are built is different than traditional CORTEN steel shipping containers. 20’ and 40’ refrigerated containers have a fully insulated aluminum exterior that provides better temperature control compared to steel and protects against the elements. Inside, these container units have a food-grade stainless steel construction that makes them safe for handling food items.

The biggest difference between standard containers and refrigerated ones is the construction of the front wall. Functioning reefer containers have a powerful refrigeration unit on that front wall that can maintain temperatures between -25 degrees Celsius and +25 degrees Celsius. Oftentimes and for various reasons, these containers have these refrigeration units removed and are simply converted into insulated aluminum shipping containers. Since the refrigeration unit is most valuable, insulated containers are significantly cheaper than functioning reefer containers.

A recent trend in the industry suggests that 20ft reefer containers are on the verge of extinction. There is an incredibly low supply on the market for used reefers and even the production of new units is extremely low due to the general focus on 40ft reefer containers. With double the size and the addition foot vertically makes the 40ft reefer containers much more than standard height 20ft Refrigeration Sea cans. Even Hapag-Lloyd, one of the largest container manufacturers in the world is said to have ordered 7,000 x 40’ reefers and only 700 x 20’ reefers in an article by the JOC, an online watchdog for container trends (

The rarity of the 20-foot refrigerated shipping container is driving their prices incredibly high, sometimes higher than new 40-foot reefer units as explained by the short supply. If you are interested in these specialized containers, we carry a selection of used 20-foot and 40-foot reefers across our shipping container depots in Canada.

We give our customers the confidence that when they buy a used shipping container from us, they buy a quality item. We invite our customers to come in and check out our container selection at any of our yards across Canada and to pick out a container they like. If you have any questions, you can always reach us by telephone at 1 866 493 4863 or by email at