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How to Put Electricity In a Shipping Container: 4 Steps

Posted on:
Sep 14, 2023

Shipping containers offer more than the opportunity to transport goods by ships, trucks, or trains.

You can convert one into a compact, energy-efficient space suitable for yourself or your business.

In order for your container living and working spaces to be comfortable and livable, you need to ensure there is adequate lighting.

Here’s how to put electricity in a shipping container.

Step 1. Prepping the Shipping Container

Before the wiring can commence, after you buy your shipping container, you need to lay the groundwork. This involves setting up your electrical goals.

The function and floor plan of each room determines your electrical goals. For instance, a residential space will not use the same number of electrical outlets as commercial ones.

Determine the number and type of outlets, lighting fixtures, as well as appliances needed.

Next, understand your local codes and permits, if and where applicable. You can  achieve your desired outcome sooner by using a licensed electrician or local authorities. 

A licensed electrician and local authorities will also help you with:

  • Updated information on all the permits and codes needed.
  • Inspections that the local authorities must carry out before they can deem your shipping container safe to live in.
  • A list of all the tools and materials you need to meet safety standards for electrical work. In most cases, an electrician has these in their possession so you do not need to purchase any.
  • Choose the right electrical wiring to ensure that it meets aforementioned electrical codes and safety requirements.

The final step in laying the groundwork for your electrical installation is cleaning the container. You need a clean shipping container, free of debris, contaminants, and any insulation to create accessible pathways for wiring.

Step 2. Wiring the Shipping Container

Now that you have done the groundwork, it’s time to start the shipping container electricity installation process.

Proper wire routing is best done by a professional, as the wrong electrical installation has dire consequences including:

  1. Electrocution
  2. Overloading the wiring system, causing electrical fires
  3. Result in insufficient lighting, frequent power outages, or damaged appliances
  4. Loss of property and your insurance may not cover the costs
  5. Expensive repairs and having to professionally redo the installation

The expert electrician you hire will perform the following services when installing electricity in your shipping container:

A. Route the Wires Safely

An electrician has the expertise to avoid any sharp bends or running wires near heat sources or areas prone to moisture.

Sharp bends can damage the wire’s insulation, which can cause fire hazards when the wires overheat.

Running wires near heat sources such as furnaces, heaters, stoves, or even direct sunlight can also cause wires to overheat, melt, or become brittle. Moisture causes short circuits, corrosion, and electrical shock hazards.

Therefore, the electrician will route the wires safely using moisture-resistant wiring, materials, and methods that can withstand heat when adding electrical to your shipping container.

B. Install Junction Boxes

Junction boxes house all the electrical connections in your shipping container. This makes it easy to identify and troubleshoot problems.

Junction boxes protect electrical connections from environmental elements like moisture, dust, and dirt. You need to ensure that a certified electrician does it perfectly to avoid accidental electric shocks. 

Also, junction box installation needs to meet electrical code requirements, such as using the correct type of wiring and connectors.

C. Install Outlets, Switches, and Fixtures

The outlets, switches, and fixtures you install depend on the electrical goals you set in Step 1. The number of outlets your electrician installs depends on the occupants and appliances you anticipate using and having in your space. 

It also depends on other uses, like if you have an outdoor space such as a patio, deck, or garden, as you will have to install more outlets, switches, and fixtures.

Step 3. Power and Safety

The electricity in your shipping container will not work if you use an inappropriate power source.

By inappropriate, we mean trying to connect to an electrical grid that’s  miles away. These costs add up quickly, as you need to factor in the expense of tapping into electricity if you live far away.

Therefore, choose the most appropriate, available, and cost-friendly power source to have reliable power in your shipping container.

Also, ensure you install electrical safety measures. 

Your electrician should install safety measures like:

  • Circuit breakers and fuses to protect the electrical system from overloads and short circuits.
  • Proper grounding to reduce the risk of electrical shock and fire hazards.
  • Fire detection systems, including smoke detectors and fire alarms.
  • Clear escape routes and emergency exits in case of emergencies such as fires.

Finally, before moving in, test the electrical system. You can have the electrician test out the outlets, switches, and fixtures to ensure they function correctly.

This helps save you from any accidents in case there are minor mistakes in the wiring connections.

Step 4. Maintenance, Repairs and Upgrades

When your electrical system is up and running smoothly, you still need to maintain it. Consider it like a new car. Even though the car is new, it still needs maintenance to ensure every part works as intended.

Your electrical system needs regular inspections to check for signs of wear, damage, or malfunction. You can detect this from the wiring, outlets, and switches.

Then, over time, consider replacing outdated appliances with energy-efficient models or upgrading the electrical panel to accommodate increased electrical demands.

Install Electricity in a Shipping Container Safely

To transform a standard shipping container no matter the size, you need to carefully plan how to put electricity in a shipping container. It’s also crucial to purchase quality shipping containers for installing effective lighting, appliances, and electrical fixtures from reputable suppliers like Dry Box.

Remember, you should carry out all replacements and upgrades safely and in compliance with the updated local electrical codes.

Call us today at 866-549-9823 and purchase a sturdy shipping container that can withstand electrical modifications and upgrades.

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