Sea freight is traditionally based on volume and container size whereas air freight is based on chargeable weight.Below are Volume and Container Sizes for Sea Freight
To give you an idea of how big a 20’ container is, it can hold 25 average size American refrigerators. A 20’ container can typically hold all items in a medium sized (2 bed room) apartment or house. That includes the typical amount of boxes used to hold all the various personal effects belonging to two adults and perhaps a child: a lot of books, clothes, dishes, pictures, pillows, rugs extra “stuff” already stored in cartons, and so on…
Let’s say, regarding all those miscellaneous cartons of personal effects, this could be / may be / might be… quite “liberally” estimated … to take up around 300-cubic feet. Since a standard 20-ft ocean container can hold 1,050 – cubic feet of volume, this would mean there would still be a lot of room left over for furniture. Let’s say you want to include a “fair amount” of furniture: a living room set (approximately 300-cft), dining room set (150-cft), a bed room set (200-cft), misc. stored goods (100-cft). This equals approx. 750-cubic feet. Combine about 750-cft of furniture with 300-cft of personal effects and this gives you a fully loaded 20-foot container.
Dimensions of a 20′ container:- Length: 5.919m Width: 2.340m Height: 2.380m
To calculate the volume you multiply them together: 5.919 x 2.340 x 2.380 = 32.96cbm
Practically though the usual maximum loading volume is around 28 cbm, depending on the size of the cartons you are loading in it. You can hardly ever pack it right to the edge and the top.
Tip # 1: If your estimated volume is between 1050 Cu Ft and 1250 Cu Ft then you may save money going for a 20’ container instead of a 40’ container if you prioritize your items as ‘Essentials’ and ‘Nice to Haves’ and ensure that the essentials are packed and loaded first. If you have space left you can load in your nice to haves.
A 40’ container can hold larger (3-4) bedroom household items. In addition to the above you can ship a second pair of couches, bed room set, large appliances, barbecue grill and additional 50 – 75 boxes.
The dimensions of a standard 40′ General Purpose container are as follows:-
Length: 12.051m Width: 2.340m Height: 2.380m (12.051 x 2.340 x 2.380 = 67.11cbm)
Same applies when loading as with a 20′, drop roughly 5 cbm to be safe with your capacity if you are planning a shipment.
Tip # 2: 40’ containers do not cost twice as much even though they offer two times the capacity. Ocean freight and destination services for 40’ containers usually cost only approx 60% more than 40’ containers so you may want to factor this into your calculation when determining container size.
40′ Hi Cube Container
The length and width of a 40’ Hi Cube container are similar to a 40’ Standard but you get an extra 1 feet in height. This translates to an additional 8 CBM or 280 Cu Ft of loading volume.
The most common container options for personal effects are 20’, 40’ and 40’ Hi Cube.