Shipping Container Grow Room: How to Build One and Design Ideas

Are you considering building your own grow room? One of the best things about reusing shipping containers is their versatility. Whether you are trying to build a cozy cabin, an impressive building, or a place for agriculture, containers can provide a great foundation.

If you’re looking for a complete guide to shipping container grow rooms, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about setting up a shipping container grow room, from choosing the right container to outfitting it with the proper ventilation and lighting. By the end of this guide, you’ll be ready to start growing your own plants in a shipping container!

What is a grow room?

A grow room refers to a room or enclosed space that is used to grow plants under controlled conditions. The most common reason for using grow rooms is limited outdoor space, but some people also build them for clandestine usages, such as growing marijuana.

shipping container grow room
Two marijuana plants in a grow room

In a grow room, plants can grow in soil, water (hydroponics), or mist (aeroponics), and are exposed to different types of indoor lighting. The great thing about this type of cultivation is that it’s easily adaptable, depending on what you need and the space you have.

Whatever plants you choose to grow, it’s essential to provide the necessary conditions, including lighting, sunlight, or a little of both. Note that using high-power lamps to provide light may generate excessive heat in a grow room, so air conditioning or proper ventilation might be required.

Benefits of a shipping container grow room

So, what are the main benefits of a shipping container grow room? In what circumstances is it better to build your own grow room instead of planting in a traditional garden?


Perhaps one of the best things about a container grow box is how cost-effective it is, especially if you’re interested in starting a hydroponic system. You don’t have to spend any money constructing a special room, as a shipping container will need only minor work.

Save water

Not only can you save money in the long run, but this can actually be an eco-friendly way of cultivating produce. Hydroponics in particular requires only one-third of the amount of water usually needed for plants to survive, and you can recycle any water to be used again.

Year-round protection

If you’re growing food outside, your plants are generally vulnerable to weather and pests. However, using hydroponics or aeroponics automatically keep away any unwanted elements. Not to mention that harmful pesticides are not necessary so that you can get produce that are much healthier and natural.

Consistent harvest & more yield

Moreover, the controlled environment of a grow box means that you are able to grow your plants throughout the year, no matter the season. The weather can’t affect the conditions inside, where the temperature, moisture, humidity, and lighting will always be at an optimum level.

More privacy

Finally, a grow box gives you the advantage of privacy and a secure location. You can easily grow crops that may be illegal in certain states without fearing the usual repercussions. With any-sized shipping container, you can simply place them on a flat surface with access to water and electricity.

Drawbacks of a shipping container grow room

There are some things you need to pay attention to before building your own grow room out of a shipping container…

Limited space

If you are planning to use your grow box for commercial purposes, than a shipping container may not be the best option as it provides rather limited space. You will need multiple containers, or at least a 40 ft instead of 20 ft container. Of course, if it’s only for personal gardening or a hobby, a small grow box is enough.

Needs electricity

Plants that grow inside a container are more vulnerable to cold. This is due to the lack of insulation from the soil surrounding them, which is why heating is an essential factor in a container grow box especially if you live in colder climates.

What can you grow in a shipping container?

The options are actually endless in terms of what kind of plants you can grow inside a shipping container. We have mentioned marijuana or cannabis above as one example. Other than that, most vegetables, fruits, and flowers are possible as long as you know the suitable environment for that particular plant.

Some of the easiest options for hydroponics in a grow plant include leafy greens like kale, spinach, and lettuce, tomatoes, radish, herbs, strawberries, blueberries, and peppers. Root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots may be trickier and require more experience. 

Meanwhile, think carefully before planting larger species that require more space to grow. For example, watermelon, squash, pumpkin, and corn. Make sure that you have enough space for all of these plants!

How to build a shipping container grow room

The easiest way to start your own container farm is simply to use services from shipping container companies. Often, they are able to set up all the necessary equipment for you. But it’s cheaper to do-it-yourself, and this can actually be a fun project to undertake! So, how do you build your own container grow room?

For simplicity’s sake, we will be breaking down the steps for a hydroponic system. The foundations should still be the same for soil-based or aeroponics, but we recommend doing more thorough research in terms of the specific details.

grow room diy

For the image above, they used the following list of materials to build their 40′ custom-built container grow room:

List of equipment:

  • 7x Timber Fatty VS 1000 what LEDs
  • 6x Hurricane Supreme wall fans
  • Quest 506 commercial dehumidifier 500 pint
  • Ideal-Air pro series 36,000 BTU Heater and Cooler
  • 8” Can-Fan and 8×40 air filter
  • Trolmaster Aqua-X control system
  • Trolmaster AC remote station
  • Trolmaster CO2 light sensor
  • Trolmaster temperature, humidity, and light sensor
  • Trolmaster humidistat station
  • CO2 tank and regulator
  • Water tank
  • 18x interior outlets”

In general though, here are the basic elements of a hydroponic container grow farm that you will need to tackle:

  • Growing layout – will you be using chambers, pots, trays, or racks? What kind of shelving system works best for your setup?
  • Irrigation – you need pumps, a reservoir, nutrient bins, valves, as well as pipes.
  • Lighting – there are different types of lighting you can use for a grow box, including high-intensity discharge lamps, compact or traditional fluorescent lamps, and LED lights.
  • Atmosphere – this involves setting up insulation, ventilation, and air conditioning or heating inside the shipping container.
  • Monitoring system – you will need a system to control the humidity, temperature, lighting, and other conditions. It’s also worth setting up an alarm system in case any of the settings are wrong.

How much does a shipping container grow room cost?

The price for a container grow room can vary quite widely, depending on whether you have bought it ready-to-use or not. If you’ve decided to DIY the grow room, then the costs will definitely be much lower.

It is simply a matter of how cheaply you can get the container. For instance, a ready module, such as this one from Hydro-Grow, starts at $11,800.

Shipping container grow room design ideas

Below we have rounded up a few great ideas that might inspire your own build…

1. Try an all-white interior

Designing a grow box is not much different than decorating any other small space, and having an all-white interior is a great way to make the room feel much larger.

white interior grow room
Source: Box Container Group

2. Build wooden trays and racks

For those who want to maximize the space inside a shipping container, stacking trays on top of one another is a great hack. However, note that not all plants can survive this kind of placement as it will limit light access. This may only work for plants such as mushrooms, which don’t need as much exposure to light.

small grow room in 20ft container
Source: Linked Equipment

3. Use PVC pipes

PVC pipes is perhaps the most common material used for the hydroponics system. They are excellent not only because they are affordable and eco-friendly, but because they allow you to fit much more crops in a limited space. In terms of aesthetics, you could try contrasting the white pipes with warm wooden floors and ceilings for a more rustic ambiance.

large container grow room

4. Rows of pots

We’ve talked about hydroponics and aeroponics, but remember that a grow room can also use traditional soil for the plants. This example shows how you can arrange pots of soil and plants in neat rows to make the most of the container space.

growing plants in a shipping container


All in all, building a shipping container grow room has plenty of advantages. It can be an interesting and useful project to DIY, especially if you are looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle by growing your own foods at home.

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