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5 Tips on How to Put Electricity In a Shipping Container

Shipping containers have come a long way from their humble origins as cargo carriers. Today, they are versatile structures used for many different purposes, from storage units to portable offices and pop-up shops. To unlock a shipping container’s full potential, one crucial element often needs to be added: electricity.

Learning how to put electricity in a shipping container involves more than just running a few wires. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of adding electricity to your custom shipping container, so you can add lighting, HVAC, and internet for any project you need. Keep reading to learn why adding electricity to shipping containers is a game-changer and how Container King can help. 

two wall mounted electrical boxes

Assessing Your Electrical Needs

First, it’s important to figure out what you’ll be using your custom shipping container for, since different applications will need varying levels of electrical infrastructure. By defining the purpose upfront, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions about your electrical needs. This involves calculating the wattage or amperage of all the electrical devices and appliances you plan to use inside the container. 

Then, you need to accurately estimate your power needs. Make a comprehensive list that includes lighting fixtures, HVAC systems, kitchen appliances, electronics, and any other equipment.

Consider both the continuous and peak power demands of each device, so you can factor in future additions. As the purpose of your custom shipping container evolves over time, you might want to add new appliances or update your technology. This proactive approach can save you time and money down the road. 

Safety Precautions You Should Take 

Working with electricity is risky business. Even with the right education and training, there’s always a potential of electric shocks, short circuits, power overloads, and even fire. To safely add power to a modified shipping container, you should always work with a qualified and licensed electrician to keep the risk as low as possible. 

Your electrical professional will equip your container with essential safety features like circuit breakers, ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), surge protectors, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They’ll use the right materials and make sure your custom built container complies with all local electrical codes and regulations. 

Step-by-Step: How to Put Electricity in a Shipping Container

Here’s a breakdown of how electricity is installed into custom storage containers: 

1. Wiring the Interior of Your Container 

First, your electrician will wire the interior of your shipping container. They’ll determine the layout of your electrical system, including the placement of outlets, switches, and lighting, and will run conduits or wiring channels to protect the wires and maintain a tidy appearance.

2. Installing Electrical Outlets and Fixtures 

Once the wiring is in place, your electrical professional will install electrical outlets, switches, and fixtures according to the layout. These should be appropriate for their intended use and how much power they will draw during operation. Then, they’ll make sure that everything is securely fastened and properly grounded to prevent electrical hazards. 

3. Connecting to an External Power Source

Depending on your container’s location and what you’ll be using it for, you can connect to the grid, use a generator, or set up a solar power system. Your electrician will connect your external power source to an interior electrical panel that has a main disconnect switch and circuit breakers to control the power distribution inside the container.

4. Conducting an Inspection 

Before putting your electrified shipping container into service, your electrician should conduct a thorough inspection of the entire system. They’ll check for loose connections, exposed wires, or any signs of damage and test all outlets, switches, and fixtures to make sure they work correctly.

5. Adding Automation and Control Systems

For enhanced convenience and efficiency, consider adding automation and control systems to your electrified container. Smart switches, sensors, and programmable controllers can help you manage lighting, climate control, and other functions remotely or automatically. These systems not only improve usability but can also save energy and enhance security.

Testing and Troubleshooting Your Custom Shipping Container 

Modified shipping containers with electrical systems aren’t immune from common issues like loose wires and short circuits. Troubleshooting your container can be done with the help of your electrician to reduce the risk of fire or electric shock. If the power to your custom shipping container isn’t working properly, your technician should: 

  • Check that wires are tightly connected to outlets, switches, and fixtures.
  • Verify that your container’s electrical system is correctly grounded. 
  • Inspect the junction boxes for any loose wires or connections.
  • Make sure the power supply from an external source is securely connected.
  • Use a voltage tester or a multimeter to check the voltage at different outlets and switches. 
  • Confirm that the wiring is correct and there are no crossed wires or short circuits.
  • Test each outlet by plugging in appropriate devices or appliances to verify they receive power.
  • Tighten loose bulbs and connections or replace fixtures as needed.

Wrapping Up 

In summary, adding electricity to a custom shipping container can open up a world of possibilities. With the right knowledge and the help of a qualified electrical professional, you can transform a standard container into a customized, powered space that meets your unique needs. Modified shipping containers with electricity are flexible, versatile, and can serve as mobile offices, workshops, storage units, and more–all while providing the essential power supply you need.

Need a Powered Shipping Container?

You don’t have to learn how to put electricity in a shipping container when you work with Container King. We can create customized electric storage container solutions that are tailored to your specific needs.

With our extensive experience and commitment to quality, you can trust us to deliver a container that exceeds your expectations. Contact Container King today at 972-829-0151. Your custom shipping container is just one call or message away!