Eye-Opening Shipping Container Greenhouses – DIY, Costs, Examples, & More

Interested in shipping container greenhouses? In the last decade, the uses of shipping containers have evolved and expanded beyond their primary transportation role.

From homes, offices, and storage facilities, to restaurants, kiosks, and getaway condos, the shipping container world has gone through a drastic revolution.

Greenhouses have become one of the latest innovative applications of used shipping containers. As more people seek ways to access fresh farm produce throughout the year, shipping containers have proven to be effective greenhouse facilities, where people can grow fruits and leafy greens throughout the year.

The cost of starting a shipping container farm may be expensive, but it is undeniably worthwhile in the long run. 

What is a shipping container greenhouse?

A container greenhouse is constructed with new or refurbished shipping containers fitted with optimal conditions for plant growth. For best results, you need to position your shipping container in a place where it can get natural light.

This means, your shipping container should be away from trees or apartments to avoid sunlight obstruction. If your shipping container greenhouse is enclosed, you may need to incorporate artificial light.

A shipping container greenhouse can be a great investment for urban homes seeking fresh farm produce throughout the year.

converted shipping container greenhouses
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Fig 1. A shipping container converted into a greenhouse

Benefits 

Easy to install and maintain

Though expensive to construct, once a shipping container greenhouse is up and running, maintaining it is quite easy. Since plants are contained within the container, you will not have to spend money on pesticides and fungicides. Consequently, you can grow fresh produce organically. 

Want to grow plants and fish inside your container? Check out our post on shipping container aquaponics.

Fresh produce

Who doesn’t love some leafy vegetables and fresh farm produce? Most urban homes rely on farm produce sourced from remote areas, which sometimes arrive stale and expensive due to transportation. With a container greenhouse, you can pluck your produce right from your farm to your table any time of the year.

Fig 2. Fresh farm produce
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Fig 2. Fresh farm produce

Low production costs

Though setting up container greenhouses may be expensive, these greenhouses are cost-friendly in the long run. By using modern irrigation systems like hydroponic systems and drip irrigation, these containers can reduce the amount of water consumption by a whopping 90% as compared to traditional farming.

Year-round farming

Shipping container greenhouses will bless your homes with fresh fruits and vegetables all year long. The automated optimal conditions inside the container allow plants such as tomatoes, cabbages, lettuce, capsicum, and cucumbers to thrive throughout the year.

High Yields

A single container greenhouse can produce yields comparable to an acre of land. The optimal conditions inside a shipping container allow it to achieve high yields that can serve many households. Even better, these yields are often organic hence promoting a healthier lifestyle across urban populations.

Fig 3. High greenhouse yields
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Fig 3. High greenhouse yields

Drawbacks

Difficulty in Controlling the Greenhouse Environment

Container farms thrive when a container environment is controlled. However, not all environments can be controlled. You need to understand the concept of environmental control in greenhouse farming to ensure that you achieve it correctly.

Structural integrity of shipping containers

Most shipping containers have made many trips around the world and been exposed to harsh conditions. Such containers are not ideal for greenhouse farming and may give your container a shorter life span.

When shopping for a used shipping container, watch out for its structural integrity. You do not want to invest heavily in a container that will only serve you for a few months.

DIY vs Purchasing a Customized Greenhouse 

Many people believe that a DIY greenhouse is cheaper than a customized greenhouse. This may not always be the case.

In some cases, constructing your own greenhouse can incur more costs than purchasing one. Buying a customized greenhouse from manufacturers can be much cheaper since most manufacturers source their materials at discounted prices.

If you only intend to purchase a container and add a few features, a DIY container greenhouse can cost much less.

Building your own greenhouse may mean you stick to a regular shape, especially if you do not have any background experience in construction. If you need a special container farm design, we recommend you buy from a reputable greenhouse supplier.

If you want a guarantee that your shipping container greenhouse will serve you for at least two years, then you are much safer purchasing from a reputable greenhouse manufacturer. 

Most manufacturers offer a two-year warranty which will allow you to make use of your greenhouse container without uncertainty.

On the other hand, a DIY container farm does not offer the privilege of a warranty. If something breaks down, you will have to hire someone to fix it. This may be costly in the long run. Also, a lot of time is spent constructing a DIY container farm.

The construction process may also be challenging to those lacking sufficient prior experience. On the contrary, even though a customized greenhouse container may require some additional work, less time is spent setting it up to be used for indoor farming.

How much do they cost? 

The cost of a customized shipping container farm varies depending on its design and structure. A smart vertical farming container can cost anywhere between $12000-$25000. On the other hand, a container farm fitted with hydroponic systems can cost between $35000-$36000.

The cost of a DIY container home will vary with design, size, and material used. A larger container farm with a basic design may cost between $2000-$15000.Even then you may have to source recyclable glass and wood to keep your budget at a minimum.

Fig 4. A DIY shipping container process
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Fig 4. A DIY shipping container process

Shipping Container Greenhouse Designs 

Hydroponic Greenhouse

A hydroponic greenhouse uses mineral nutrient solutions and aqueous solvents to grow plants. Since no soil is involved, a hydroponic system can reduce water consumption by approximately 90%.

Plants such as tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, peppers, cucumbers, and cannabis can be grown using the hydroponic technique.

Fig 5. A hydroponic greenhouse
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Fig 5. A hydroponic greenhouse

Urban farm

An urban farm container greenhouse is constructed by removing the shipping container’s roof and adding a transparent greenhouse to let in natural light.

Fruits and vegetables can be grown inside the self-contained greenhouse then sold to urban populations eager to access fresh farm produce. 

Fig 6. A shipping container converted into an urban farm
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Fig 6. A shipping container converted into an urban farm

Shipping Container Greenhouses for Sale 

Are you looking to purchase a customized shipping container greenhouse? Container Stop, a California-based container company is a reputable firm that customizes shipping containers for greenhouse purposes.

Since 2015, the company has been selling standard shipping containers and customizing them based on customer preferences.

Container Technology Inc. is another commendable shipping container company that recently ventured into customized container greenhouses.

Among e-commerce platforms, Alibaba offers competitive prices for customized container greenhouses that can be imported directly from China. 

Conclusion

A shipping container greenhouse offers a cheaper farming alternative in urban areas. It also promotes healthy living by providing conditions under which organic farm products can thrive throughout the year.

Due to the optimized conditions in most container farms, container greenhouses offer higher yields as compared to traditional growing. In addition, container greenhouses ensure fresh produce is served in your households throughout the year regardless of the season.

One downside of these greenhouses is that you may need some degree of technical know-how to maintain a balance between the light and heat within.

The lack of balance between these two can have adverse effects on plants. In some instances, the structural integrity of the container may be compromised making it serve you for only a limited period before it breaks down.

When shopping for a container greenhouse, ensure you do your homework to find out whether it’s more ideal for you to purchase a customized container or go the DIY way.

We strongly recommend that you purchase a customized shipping container from a reputable container supplier like Container Stops, and enjoy the goodness of your own produce all year long!

Ryan Stetson

Ryan Stetson

Currently own two 20' and 40' containers converted into an office/workshop. Having worked in the shipping industry for 6 years, my goal is to share my personal experiences as well as connect potential container buyers with suppliers around the US.

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