When it comes to moving or storing perishable and temperature-sensitive cargo, finding the right way to move or store these items can seem like a daunting task for a lot of people. But with the right container, this doesn’t have to be a challenge. This is why our cooled steel refrigerated shipping containers can be literal lifesavers for users who need that perfect place to store their treasured cargo.

In order to help you to make the best decision on your moving and storage journey, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to reefers. From delving deep into the history of the reefers to the hottest tips for finding a good refrigerated sea container, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Within this helpful guide, we also explain how the reefers keep your items cool, detail the different uses of reefer containers and explore the benefits of using refrigerated metal containers.

We want you to have all the information you need to buy or hire a reefer. That’s why we’re also providing you with a couple of real-life examples of our inhouse-customised reefers. We also go on to explain what you can store in these mobile fridges and the dimensions of refrigerated containers.

Jump To:
A glance back through history - the refrigerated shipping container
Porthole and integrated refrigerated containers
How do refrigerated shipping containers work?
What are the uses of refrigerated shipping containers?
What are the benefits of using refrigerated shipping containers?
What should you look for in a reefer container?
Examples of reefer containers
What you can store inside a refrigerated shipping container?
What are the dimensions of refrigerated containers?

The Refrigerated container is also known within the industry as a Reefer shipping container.


The history of the refrigerated shipping container started in 1956. Back then, the original shipping container was initially used for transporting dry cargo, also known as general cargo.

It only took a few years after its invention for the cargo container to become a huge success, due to its ability to reduce shipping times by hastening the process of loading and offloading cargo) and improve space utilisation in ships and ports.

In fact, the only complaint back then about the container was that it could not be used to transport goods that were temperature sensitive.
This led engineers to come up with a new and innovative way to solve this problem and in the 1960s the very first refrigerated container (reefer) was born. However, due to being quite rudimentary at the time, the containers were called insulated containers.

The introduction of the new container was a big hit, due to its cooling capabilities which made the shipping container even more versatile. Users were now able to transport temperature sensitive cargo such as vegetables, fruits, films, pharmaceuticals, plants, meat, eggs, among other products.


View our range of refrigerated containers here >


Currently, there are two types of refrigerated containers in the world today, porthole containers and integrated containers. The porthole container is becoming less and less common due to companies shifting to the newer model, which are integrated containers.

Porthole containers have two holes in the rear wall which is used for ventilation. From these holes, cold air is pumped into the container and warm air evacuated to keep the contents at the desired temperature. This type of container requires being connected to a reefer plant where the air is cooled before being pumped into the container.

Integrated containers are a more sophisticated reefer that features an integrated cooling system and can easily be moved from sea to rail and vice versa without any complications. This system has made the modern shipping container more “independent” making it easier to switch between different modes of transport. Integrated reefers also feature a refrigeration mechanism that is either self-powered (using fuel run gen sets) or powered by external power points on quays, ships and landing bases.


The main purpose of a refrigerated shipping container is to keep the items inside them cool by circulating cool air.

Through both the porthole and integrated refrigerated containers, cold air is pumped at the bottom of the unit circulating over and through the items before exiting the container through another opening at the top of the unit back to the refrigeration system.

The floor of a reefer is grated and the walls have a corrugated design in order to enhance air circulation inside the container for increased efficiency.

Refrigerated shipping containers

(Image Source: http://www.klingecorp.com/freezer-units/cbu-30/)


View our range of refrigerated containers here >



Refrigerated shipping containers are a great way for storing cargo and goods that need refrigeration. However, what a lot of users don’t realise is while these containers tend to be used for shipping. They can also be used as portable cold rooms, which makes them ideal for events where large amounts of food need to be kept cool or even factory needs where raw materials or products need to be chilled before processing or sale.


If you’re looking for the perfect solution for event refrigeration, reefers provide all the capabilities of a traditional cold room with the added advantage of portability. Reefers can be used for food storage for large events where lots of food is required and big crowds are gathering, such as conferences, festivals, weddings, concerts, sports events, outdoor shows among other functions.

Because of the sensitivity of food, cold refrigeration will be required onsite, especially if your function is being held on warmer days such as during summer. Not only does it provide you with a secure place to store your food, it’s the perfect outside catering solution for your event and you can easily move it between different locations if you need.

Furthermore, these units are completely independent as they have integrated gen packs and refrigeration mechanism to offer the ideal off-the-grid cold storage solution.


When it comes to preparing for natural disasters, it’s always best to be organised and think ahead in order to save lives if and when the time comes. Refrigerated shipping containers allow you to weather any storm by providing you with the perfect place to store and preserve food so that you can get it to the people who may need it.


When you’re running a factory, it’s easy to run out of cold storage space to store products or raw materials. Luckily, hiring a refrigerated container can solve that problem and provide a cheap and fast solution.

You can expand storage with reefers to store products for anticipated demand spikes as well as store raw materials bought cheaply when the market is flooded.


If you’re looking for a container that can safely transport perishable cargo such as fresh produce from one location to another, reefers are definitely the way to go.

Plus, as reefers are essentially containers with additional modifications, they are compatible with all the handling equipment used for general purpose containers.

common uses of a reefer refrigerated shipping container (1)


There are plenty of benefits for you to reap if you choose to hire or buy a reefer for your storage or moving needs. We’ve compiled a list below of the benefits of investing in a refrigerated shipping container:

  1. Flexibility – A reefer can provide more flexibility when it comes to your storage needs. Reefers allow racks and partitions to be installed if you need to store smaller items or remove them when you want to store larger items. You can also store goods that don’t need refrigeration.
  2. Easy transportation - Reefers makes for super easy transportation of cargo and goods due to being compatible with all container handling equipment, which means that you can utilise the available infrastructure to move them around.
  3. Easy setup – You don’t have to worry about complicated and messy set ups. A refrigerated shipping container is easy to set up at the site where it is required, all you need is flat ground and you can set it down and it’s ready.
  4. Varied power options - The container can either be powered from the mains or using fuel.
  5. Durability - All shipping containers, reefers included, are built to withstand the harsh conditions of the sea and rough treatment during transportation which makes them very durable.When used to transport perishable goods, refrigerated cargo containers are beneficial in the following ways:
  6. Reduced handling costs – Your shipment will ride on existing infrastructure to keep transportation costs at a minimum, with standardised container handling equipment all over the world.
  7. Easy transhipment - Just like regular containers, reefers can be moved seamlessly from one mode of transport to another without the need to offload the cargo.
  8. Reduced packaging expenses - Because the refrigerated container already provides adequate protection from damage, goods being transported don’t require elaborate packaging.
  9. Minimised risk of pilferage and damage - Shipping containers are well known for their robust and secure build, not to mention keeping your goods safe from theft, physical damage and the elements.

benefits of a reefer refrigerated shipping container



When it comes to hiring or buying a refrigerated sea container, there are a few things to take into consideration. At the end of the day, you need a container that exactly matches your requirements and protects the cargo it is carrying or storing.

  1. Suitability for your needs – It pays to really have a think about the amount of space you require, what goods the refrigerated container will be used for and where the shipping container will be used so you can choose the appropriate power option. Three sizes are available 20ft, 40ft and 40ft high cube.
  2. The terms used - Containers are described using labels such as “one trip” – which as the name suggests have only been used on a single trip. This is the newest kind of second-hand container you can acquire with terms such as “as-is” being used to describe old (usually much worn) containers.
  3. Transportation certifications – You must also ensure the container you acquire has been inspected and declared seaworthy and/or cargo worthy, especially if you will be using your reefer for shipping.
  4. Construction materials – The quality of the shipping container cannot be under estimated, so you need to ensure the container is constructed using quality materials as this will affect its durability.
  5. The quality of the paint job - Containers that still have their factory paint coating are the best, but professionally repainted ones can also be as good. Containers described having “no shipping label” will have no company logo (or markings) and have one uniform colour.
  6. Weatherproofing – The shipping container must be able to weather any water, so make sure you inspect the container to ensure that it is completely water and windproof with proper sealing.
  7. The condition of the refrigeration mechanism - Ensure that the refrigeration mechanism is in good condition if the container will be used for refrigeration purposes. Mechanism is expensive to replace and any failure during use would mean damage to your goods.
  8. Interior condition - The interior walls, floor, and roof must be good shape, as they will be holding your cargo and goods. Don’t forget that the proper lining material must be used depending on what you will be using the container for.
  9. Aesthetics - If the container looks quite worn and damaged from observation, it probably is, so make sure to personally inspect the container before acquiring it.
  10. Is there a “no shipping label”? - This generally means that there is not a company logo on the container. This means that the container will be painted one colour and will not have a lot of other markings.
  11. How long are you going to need and use the container for? - Most importantly, you need to determine how long you will need and use the container for. If the container is for storage of perishable products but you only need it for a specific time frame, renting shipping containers with refrigeration might be a great option. We believe that this is the best path to go down because once your use of the container is at an end you can simply have the container removed. That way, you won’t have to worry about selling it or otherwise disposing of it.

What Should You Look For IN A Refrigerated shipping container


About Tiger Containers, Your #1 Choice:

Tiger Containers is proud to have been in this business for more than 30 years and to have helped clients across Australia find the perfect reefer solution to ship their goods and cargo. We provide new and used professional and quality refrigerated shipping containers for sale and hire in Australia.

Our reefers are:

  1. High quality - We strive to deliver quality results to our customers and we do that by ensuring that our containers meet international standards. We have very stringent quality control measures that we implement for both our new and used reefers.
  2. Compliant with Australian standards - All our refrigerated containers are compliant with Australian standards.
  3. Warranty protected - Our customers get a three-month warranty for all container purchases.
  4. Competitively priced - Whether you are buying or renting a shipping container from us, you can count on us to provide the best prices in the country.


View our range of refrigerated containers here >



We pride ourselves on providing first-class and high-quality reefers and containers to our many customers across Australia. Here are some examples of refrigerated container orders we have fulfilled recently.

Here are some examples of refrigerated container orders we have fulfilled recently.


For this customer, we converted a 20ft refrigerated container into a 10ft chiller. We also fitted it with a quick release door with a release valve to make it easy to operate.

The chiller is designed to draw power from a 240 volt – 15 amp power source and can maintain a temperature range of between -5 and 4 degrees.

Similar chillers are available for hire or purchase and would make a perfect addition for events and businesses looking for extra chiller space.

20ft to 10ft Resized Reefer


Custom Painted Reefer

For this order, the customer wanted us to fit a centralised door and finish off the modification with a black coat of paint for the entire reefer. We were able to do the modifications with great success adding another satisfied customer to our books.

Custom Painted Reefer

Fully Customised Cold Room

Recently, a customer who had space restrictions came to us looking for a viable outdoor cool room alternative. After discussing the options, we decided to reduce the length of standard reefer to 4.8 metres so that it could fit in his allocated space.

Because the reefer would be a tight fit in the available space, opening the doors would be an issue, so we had to come up with a solution for that. We designed and installed butcher doors that open from the LHS and slide to the right allowing users access despite the confined space.
Since the container was to be used as a freezer, constantly running at -20 degrees, we needed to install a heat strip to keep the doors from freezing up; which we did.

We also installed 2 freezer lights inside to enable the customer to work inside the reefer with the door closed and finished off the job with a light grey paint job for a beautiful finish.

Fully Customised Cold Room from shipping container


This is the question on so many minds, but these reefers are for more than just holding frozen food. The space and durability of a regular shipping container, plus the temperature control of a regular refrigeration unit, makes it so you can store and hold the below:


We all know that reefers were primarily invented to store and transport large quantities of food or perishable goods, which includes seafood, meat and poultry, dairy products, and fruits and vegetables. It’s scary to think that without reefers, there would be no way for people to get fresh produce all year round. Reefers are able not only to keep their internal temperature cool but also ensure proper air circulation necessary to prevent food spoilage, which makes for the perfect method of transportation and storage for fresh and local produce.


It’s always a pity when flowers arrive on your doorstep and they are wilting. Luckily, reefers are commonly used to transport this perishable item, allowing people from all over the country to have access to fresh flowers. Thanks to refrigerated containers, flowers can be transported from South America, Europe and Asia.

Another favourite item also transported regularly through refrigerated containers are wines. Not many people realise that wines can be temperamental when it comes to transporting them across the country, with any change in temperature causing them to go bad. This is why it’s important that they’re transported in specialised, temperature-controlled reefer containers.
More and more catering companies and event coordinators have started using or hiring reefers for their services and events, because of their ability to keep food, flowers and wine fresh and at their best.


If you’re a big fan of the latest Hollywood film, you’ll be interested to know that reefers help make your favourite films possible. Reefers can transport movie props and equipment, especially when filming in harsh environments or extreme outdoor locations, which can save a production company millions of dollars in damaged props and equipment.


One of the most important items moved by reefers is life-saving medicines. Many medicines require refrigeration and ventilation technologies during transport across the country and the world, which only reefers can provide. These days, with an increasing number of medicines now being transported on reefers, the cost of many medicines also decreased, giving more people access to these much-needed medicines.

Because of this ability to store and transport large quantities of medicines as well as food, reefers have become very useful in military operations and disaster management.

common uses of a reefer refrigerated shipping container (3)


Externally, the dimensions of reefer containers are identical to those of a general purpose container. This ensures that reefers are compatible with regular ISO standards and hence don’t require any special handling equipment. But since they are insulated and could have an additional refrigeration unit, internal dimensions are smaller, and hence reefers are less roomy inside.

There’re two common reefer sizes based on their lengths: 20ft and 40ft. A high cube variant is also available for the 40ft reefer to provide extra volume to users who need more of it. The general specifications of a reefer are as follows:

Spec/Reefer Size
20ft Container
40ft Container
40ft High Cube
Internal Volume 32.85m3 67.5m3 75.0m3
Tare Weight (Approx.) 2,130kg 3,660kg 3,660kg
Gross Weight (Max) 30,500kg 30,500kg 30,500kg
Length 6.1m (20ft) 12.19m (40ft) 12.19m (40ft)
Width 2.44m 2.44m 2.44m
Height 2.39m 2.39m 2.65m
Internal Length 5.90m 12.03m 12.03m
Internal Width 2.35m 2.35m 2.35m
Internal Height 2.39m 2.39m 2.65m



Reefers are great investments, not just for those who want to transport perishable goods, but also for businesses that require reliable storage of perishable goods in different locations.

So, if you’re thinking of buying refrigerated containers for sale, make sure you get the best, only from Tiger Containers.
We offer high quality refrigerated and insulated shipping containers for sale and can customise these containers to your exact specifications and needs.

Make sure you get the best, only from Tiger Containers.

We offer high quality refrigerated and insulated shipping containers for sale and can customise these container to your exact needs.

Contact us on 1800 072 039 to discuss your specific needs.


View our range of refrigerated containers here >

Last Modified:
26th July 2021.