Conexwest cold storage refrigerated containers

Refrigerated Containers as an On-Site Cold Storage Solution

Refrigerated Containers as an On-Site Cold Storage Solution

When shipping or handling perishable goods like fruits, vegetables, meat, and delicate pharmaceuticals, many things can go wrong without care and the proper storage equipment. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), up to 45% of fresh produce is lost or wasted during harvesting, packaging, and transportation.

With the increasing in-store demand for fresh food products, shippers and businesses must develop an effective loss-prevention strategy for their perishables. Besides improving inventory management and adhering to regulatory requirements, you must invest in quality cold storage containers for fresh and quality cargo.

These containers are specifically designed to meet the temperature requirements of sensitive and perishable goods like vegetables, medicines, fruits, vaccines, etc. Their built-in cooling system works tirelessly to ensure your goods stay fresh throughout the storage period. They also have other features like precise temperature control, monitoring, power backup, etc.

As such, you must invest in the right cold storage solutions to prevent losses and meet your growing client's needs. In this post, we’ll explore refrigerated container, their features, and how to pick the right one for on-site cold storage.

40ft refrigerated containers

Who Needs On-Site Cold Storage Solutions?

Depending on your refrigeration requirements, on-site cold storage solutions can be handy in different cases. Having the capacity to store and refrigerate goods on-site gives you control over your supply chain. More importantly, it’s a way to save costs while minimizing losses due to spoilage. Here are businesses that might benefit from on-site cold storage solutions:

  • Restaurants: As a restaurant, customers trust you to serve quality and fresh foods. With on-site cold storage systems, you can ensure your frozen foods, meats, seafood, and fresh produce are preserved at the right temperature, ranging from 0°F to 54°F.

  • Farmers and fisheries: As a farmer or fishery, you might not need to sell your stock immediately. Preserving it allows you to take advantage of increased prices in the future. On-site cold storage also enables your produce to withstand longer delays between production and distribution.

  • Industries: In industrial productions, certain chemicals and compounds, such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and specialty chemicals, require refrigeration to ensure stability. In this case, on-site cold storage solutions are helpful.

  • Hospitals: Health centers and hospitals need cold storage for vaccines, insulin, and certain antibiotics to maintain their effectiveness and potency. Installing on-site cold storage facilities can support the operations of hospitals and ensure improved care.

  • Logistics providers: If you’re a third-party logistics provider, you need cold storage to preserve perishable goods, temperature-sensitive products, and other items requiring controlled environments for your clients.

These are some of the businesses that need to have on-site cold storage facilities to support their operations. Note that the type of installed solution depends on the goods or items that require refrigeration. For instance, industrial storage and medical supplies might require temperatures as low as -22°F.

Meats and meat food require cold temperatures in the range of 14°F and 0°F. End users like supermarkets, restaurants, and hospitals need systems that support 23°F to 54°F for short and medium-term storage. Regardless of your needs, investing in a refrigerated container that suits the specific temperature requirements for your product or produce is crucial.

Why Use Refrigerated Containers for On-Site Cold Storage?

When considering on-site cold storage solutions for your business, you can choose between refrigerated containers and permanent cold rooms. Both options are effective, but your ideal pick depends on your use case and unique needs.

For example, investing in expensive, permanent cold storage solutions doesn't make sense if you're renting property for your business. That’s why refrigerated containers or reefers make terrific alternatives for businesses, especially when you have unpredictable business needs.

Here is why refrigerated containers are an effective way to add cold storage solution to your business:

  • Modular systems: Containers come in standard sizes to accommodate diverse storage needs. The best part is their modular ability -- you can extend or reduce their size depending on your seasonal storage needs. This helps to minimize your overhead costs when they’re not in use.

  • Single installation: Regardless of your business location, you can install a refrigerated container unit in just a single installation. In this case, you can quickly deploy the container anywhere without the hassle of constructing permanent cold rooms.

  • Customizable: Depending on your industry and product requirements, you can customize a refrigerated container to address your unique needs. For example, you can add new features, insulation, doors, compartments, and other functionalities suitable for your products.

  • Versatile systems: If you deal in a wide range of products, you can still use the same container to store different goods. These containers have features like precise temperature control and a wide range, allowing you to easily adjust temperatures for different products.

  • Feature packed: Refrigerated containers have different features to ensure ample cold storage. Examples include blast-freeze functionality, ultra-low temperature capability, redundant systems, advanced monitoring, etc. With such features, you’re well-equipped to preserve your products.

  • Cost-effective solutions: With refrigerated containers as an on-site cold storage solution, you can rent the container and pick a size that suits your needs. They’re also moveable and not subject to building regulations, saving you the costs of traditional cold storage solutions.

Whether you’re a food bank, restaurant, or health center, a refrigerated container makes a versatile cold storage solution for your products. You don’t need to struggle with the know-how of constructing cold storage rooms or incur additional monthly costs with commercial cold storage services.

20ft onsite cold storage container

Choosing Your Ideal Refrigerated Container Size

Refrigerated containers come in two standard dimensions to accommodate the needs of different businesses. So, when shopping around for one, it’s vital to pay attention to the size of the container. Your choice depends on your business needs, product type, and industry.

The most common size is the 20-foot container, which can accommodate up to 28,000 pounds of cargo. This reefer is ideal for small businesses with minimal storage needs. It can store various products and cargo like meat, fruits, fish, pharmaceuticals, dairy products, ice cream, wine, etc. It also has a small footprint if you don’t have enough space.

As your business needs change, you can opt for the 40-foot container. It works perfectly for storing different products and food items. It provides extra storage capacity and can support temperatures ranging from -20°F to 70°F. While this reefer is spacious for ample storage, it consumes more energy than the 20-foot unit.

Regardless of your desired size, these containers are available as new, used, or refurbished. Both are ideal for a wide range of cargo needs and deployable anywhere, depending on your supply chain, production site, or business location.

Key Features of Refrigerated Containers

When considering installing a refrigerated container, it’s essential to pick one that addresses your unique needs. Apart from size, it’s imperative to look at the features and functionalities of the container. This is particularly important when your product has complex requirements for cold storage.

Wide Temperature Range

If your business deals in varied products, you’ll need to adjust the temperature for each product. In this case, you’ll need a container that supports a wide temperature range. For example, our Conexcool containers support temperatures ranging from -20°F to 70°F. This range is ideal for storing different products like pharmaceuticals, meats, fresh produce, etc.

Precise Temperature Control

The ability to set your preferred temperature is crucial for any refrigerated container. So, you must pick a unit that enables precise end-to-end temperature control for your products. This is important to ensure variable weather conditions do not impact your sensitive products. A good example is pharmaceuticals that need specific temperatures to maintain stability and potency.

Ultra-Low Temperature Capability

If you have products that demand ultra-low temperatures, consider containers featuring a super-freezer. Typically, these containers can support temperatures from -40 °C to below -80°C, making them perfect for frozen goods and temperature-sensitive substances. For example, frozen high-grade tuna fish requires temperatures as low as -65˚C for optimum storage.

Redundant Systems

While this feature is optional, it’s helpful if you deal in temperature-sensitive and dangerous cargo. In a redundant system, you get two refrigeration units. One is the primary unit, while the other is a backup unit. These systems are ideal for storing sensitive products such as chemicals, as the backup unit provides additional protection when the primary unit fails.

Exceptional Insulation

Two types of insulation are commonly used in refrigerated containers: foam insulation and vacuum insulation panels. Foam is less expensive, while vacuum does a better job at containing internal heat. Depending on your preferred material, look at the insulation thickness. Foam ranges from 60mm to 100mm, while vacuum is usually between 20mm to 30mm.

Vacuum insulation is more efficient than foam, as the thinner insulation ensures the same level of thermal performance. Insulation is vital to prevent temperature fluctuations, impacting the quality and freshness of perishable goods.

Advanced Monitoring and Alarms

The safety of your cargo is critical, especially if you’re storing temperature-sensitive goods. As such, it’s better to opt for super freezer containers with advanced monitoring and alarm systems to alert you in the event of temperature deviations. These containers have sensors for monitoring temperature and humidity levels and send notifications to your phone.

Blast-Freeze Functionality

The blast-freeze feature is also handy for products requiring immediate freezing, such as meats and fish. This functionality is a rapid freezing process that assists in preserving the taste, quality, and nutritional value of your edibles. It also helps to minimize bacteria growth and ice crystal formation in your container.

Essential Considerations When Picking Refrigerated Containers

When setting up your on-site cold storage facility, you want a container tailored to the unique needs of your cargo. Beyond these needs, you also need to adopt a forward-looking perspective. For instance, consider sustainability and integration with other technologies as the business landscape changes. 

Here are the key considerations when shopping for a reefer for your cost storage facility.

Size Matters

As noted before, the standard dimensions for refrigerated containers are 20 feet and 40 feet. Your pick between these options depends on the volume of your stock. While the size of the container may seem trivial, it matters. It’s crucial to pick a container that your stock will likely fill.

Why? Because optimal utilization of the container’s space prevents temperature fluctuation and minimizes energy consumption. Choosing the right size is also crucial when you plan to use the container for transport as well -- a small batch in a big container impacts the cargo integrity.


It’s helpful to highlight the essential features for you and your cargo during the selection process. Some useful features a container must have are precise temperature control, a broad temperature range, and a monitoring system.

Consider features like multi-compartment flexibility, redundant systems, and blast-freeze functionality. Remember that the more features a unit has, the more it’s likely to cost. Still, some of these features can be pretty handy in preserving the quality and freshness of your products.

Power Source and Consumption

The energy source powering the container is also a key consideration, especially when setting it up in areas not served by the grid. This is the case for farmers and fisheries. Many containers rely on electric power, while others are generator sets. If you pick a generator-powered unit, you’ll also incur the cost of maintaining the generator.

Still, you can have a generator as a backup power option in case of grid outages. You also need to understand the energy efficiency of the refrigerated container and its impact on operational costs. Units with better insulation, heat leakage control, ventilation, and design have higher energy efficiency.

Opt for a unit with an automated temperature management system, which helps improve energy efficiency to minimize energy costs. This system uses sensors to monitor temperature and automatically adjust the unit to ensure consistent temperature. This eliminates the need for manual adjustments.

used 40ft refrigerated container

New vs. Used vs. Refurbished

Depending on your budget, you can buy a new, used, or refurbished refrigerated container for your on-site cold storage facility.

New containers have been used at least once, while used are the most common containers in the market. Used containers are about 10 to 15 years old. On the other hand, refurbished containers are used containers with new paint and primer.

Regardless of your choice, these containers are almost similar. All of them undergo a ten-stage pre-trip inspection to guarantee quality and longevity. While each container is tested to meet quality standards, making the right choice is still crucial, particularly if the unit will double as a shipping container.


Some cargo classifications have unique storage needs, and standard containers might come short. In this case, it’s advisable to pick a customizable container to meet your industry-specific requirements and the needs of your cargo.

The classification of the storage class (SC) starts at SC 0, which has no special storage requirements, to SC VII, which has particular temperature, humidity/moisture, and ventilation conditions. So, it’s vital to know the storage class of your cargo to determine if the container will need customization.

For example, goods like grain, legumes, oil-bearing seeds and fruits, and nuts fall in the SC VII class. In this case, you’ll need to customize the container to add windows, vents, partitions, shelving systems, or customized paint to meet your unique storage requirements.

Get Refrigerated Containers for Your Cold Storage Needs

From the food industry to the medical sector, cold storage and refrigerated transportation are experiencing a period of growth. Restaurants and supermarkets must keep up with customer demand for quality and fresh produce, while some pharmaceuticals require specific temperatures to maintain potency.

An on-site cold storage solution can be cost-effective if you deal in such cargo. Traditionally, businesses rented warehouse space or constructed cold storage rooms to preserve cargo. While these solutions are effective, they might be feasible in some cases. For example, renting warehouse space might be costly if your business is in a remote area.

Refrigerated containers are redefining how businesses address their storage needs. They’re not just restricted to cargo transport only; you can now use them to set up your on-site cold storage facility. These containers come in different sizes with varied features to ensure optimal temperature preservation for your perishable goods.

Conexwest offers quality containers from top manufacturers like Thermo King, Carrier, Daikin, etc. Whether you need to rent or buy one, we can deliver the ideal container for your business. You can also request a custom container; our team will provide one tailored to your unique business needs. Call us today at (855) 878-5233 for a custom quote or more information.