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Can Container Homes Withstand Hurricanes?

The short answer is YES – container homes can withstand hurricanes. Let’s explore the different ways container homes can withstand hurricanes.

Our Story

A client once asked us if our container house could withstand a Category 2 Hurricane (100 mph wind). Apparently, this client is from Hawaii and was wondering if our product can handle the elements of weather. 

Hawaii has hurricanes and their building codes require certain types of anchoring systems to the foundation and roof. This helps prevent damage to the house and keeps the family safe during a natural disaster. 

We also understand this concern as in the Philippines, we are also experiencing strong tropical typhoons. 

Building a house that’s safe, durable, and sturdy is one of our major concerns apart from affordability and aesthetics.

Understanding Hurricane or Tropical Cyclone Wind Speeds

Both typhoons and hurricanes are tropical cyclones, and they are classified by their maximum sustained wind speeds using different terminology depending on where they occur.

In the Western Hemisphere, including the United States, tropical cyclones are called “hurricanes.” 

In the Western North Pacific and other parts of the Eastern Hemisphere, they are referred to as “typhoons” or “cyclones” depending on the region. The only difference in terminology is based on geographic location.

The Philippines, situated in a region vulnerable to tropical cyclones, commonly experiences the combined effects of abundant rainfall, widespread flooding, and powerful winds as a result of its geographical location.

With that said, there are different tropical cyclone categories in each area depending on the regions they occur. However, we can take the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale for reference for now.

Hurricane Categories

Both hurricanes and typhoons are categorized using the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale in the United States, which has five categories:

  • Category 1: Wind speeds of 74-95 mph (119-153 km/h).
  • Category 2: Wind speeds of 96-110 mph (154-177 km/h).
  • Category 3: Wind speeds of 111-129 mph (178-208 km/h).
  • Category 4: Wind speeds of 130-156 mph (209-251 km/h).
  • Category 5: Wind speeds greater than 157 mph (252 km/h) or higher.

How Much Wind Can a Prefabricated Container Withstand?

Prefabricated containers are constructed to be stacked up to 3 stories height on top of each other. They offer excellent protection for their contents during a hurricane. 

The steel walls found in a prefabricated container are tightly sealed, which means you don’t need to be overly concerned about damage from powerful hurricane winds and heavy rain. 

These weather conditions usually can’t penetrate the sturdy structure of a prefabricated container.

container house arcgo

Detachable Container House Wind Load Capacity

A prefabricated detachable container can withstand a wind speed of 120 km/h and above or wind resistance of 0.6 KN/m2. The frame structure material is usually made of 1.0mm to 2.0mm of galvanized steel, anti-rust, and can be used for humid areas.

When reinforced to the ground, a detachable container house can even withstand higher wind loads of Category 2 or 3 typhoons or hurricanes.

Expandable Container House Wind Load Capacity

The standard Expandable House is designed to withstand 354 to 450kph. It has a seismic resistance of grade 8 and above. The frame structure material is 3.0mm galvanized steel, anti-rust, and can be used for humid areas.

Keep in mind that these figures come independently without reinforcing the container to the ground, which we normally do for container houses. 

40ft expandable contianer house ARCGO

Container homes that have additional structural reinforcement can be made to withstand even a Category 5 hurricane (252 km/h)! This can include adding steel reinforcements, tie-downs, or bracing to the container structure.

Read: Container House vs Traditional House

How Much Wind Can a Shipping Container Withstand?

Shipping containers are tough because they’re made to handle rough ocean conditions with strong winds and rough waves. They’re built from strong steel and have ridged walls that help them stay sturdy. 

The ISO says these containers can handle winds of at least 100 miles per hour, which is great. And the typical steel-reinforced shipping container building can withstand winds up to 180 mph

But you should know that hurricanes can have even stronger winds, sometimes over 150 miles per hour, depending on how powerful they are.

Also, if you make changes to a shipping container, like cutting holes for windows and doors, it can weaken the container and make it less resistant to strong winds. So, it’s important to be careful when modifying containers for different uses.

How can Container Homes be more advantageous than Concrete Homes in hurricanes?

1. More Debris-Proof

In a hurricane, flying debris, including trees, poses a substantial risk of causing significant damage. Homes constructed with concrete block walls can be vulnerable to penetration due to the high wind velocities involved. 

However, when your home is built from a sturdy steel container, this concern diminishes significantly.

The robust wall structure of container homes is well-equipped to withstand the impact of high-velocity debris. 

As a result, you can have peace of mind knowing that your home offers enhanced protection during severe weather events, making it a valuable choice for hurricane-prone regions.

Steel structures, including container homes, generally have good adaptability to violent shaking caused by strong winds compared to traditional concrete structures.

2. Strength and Flexibility

Container homes are made of steel. Steel, in general, is a highly durable and flexible material. 

During strong winds, steel structures can sway and absorb the energy from the wind, which helps dissipate the force and reduces the risk of structural failure. This flexibility is a significant advantage in areas prone to hurricanes or high winds.

3. Lighter Weight

Container homes are more lightweight than concrete houses. 

People sometimes worry that container homes, being lightweight, might be moved or affected by strong winds.

However, this is in fact more advantageous during strong winds. Heavier structures may experience more significant forces from wind, while lighter steel structures are better equipped to withstand these forces.

Container homes often use high-strength bolted or welded connections, which can provide better resistance to wind forces than traditional concrete construction methods.

4. Aerodynamics

Steel structures can be designed with aerodynamic features to reduce wind resistance and minimize the uplift forces on the structure.

5. Cost-Efficiency

Container homes can be more cost-effective to build compared to traditional concrete homes. The reuse of shipping containers can reduce construction costs, making them an attractive option, especially in hurricane-prone areas where rebuilding may be necessary after a storm.

It’s important to note that the effectiveness of container homes in hurricane-prone areas depends on proper design, reinforcement, and adherence to building codes. 

Careful planning, engineering expertise, and consideration of local building codes are essential to ensure that a container home is resilient in the face of hurricane risks.

Ways to protect a container home withstand a hurricane

While shipping container homes inherently possess some structural strength that makes them suitable for extreme weather conditions, additional engineering and design considerations are necessary for them to be safe during hurricanes.

Here are some of the ways to protect a container home to withstand a hurricane.

1. Stable Foundation

2 storey prefab container restaurant
Prefabricated Container House

A strong foundation is essential for withstanding hurricane-force winds. Proper anchoring and foundation design can help prevent the container home from being lifted or shifted during a storm.

Container homes are commonly constructed atop concrete slab foundations but also have the flexibility to be situated on basement foundations.

2. Strapping and Anchoring

Container homes may require additional structural reinforcement to withstand high winds. This can include adding steel reinforcements, tie-downs, or bracing to the container structure.

Metal strapping and anchoring systems can be used to secure the container home to its foundation, preventing it from being lifted by strong winds.

To address the issue of strong winds, we recommend taking the following approach: 

  • Begin by securely embedding a robust steel plate or expansion anchor bolt deep into the ground. 
  • Afterward, ensure a sturdy connection by welding the corner of the container house to the expansion anchor bolt. 
  • This method serves to firmly anchor the container house, enhancing its stability and resilience against powerful winds.

3. Roof and Windows

The roof and windows are vulnerable points during a hurricane. Reinforced roofing materials and impact-resistant windows can help protect against wind and debris.

The frame of a container home is built to handle really strong winds of up to 170 mph or even more. But, the windows are not as strong; they can break when the wind gets to about 75 mph. 

How ARCGO helps you Build a Sturdy, Hurricane-Proof, or Typhoon-Proof Container House

ARCGO’s extensive experience in dealing with numerous tropical cyclones over the years has equipped us with the expertise to build not just concrete houses, but also design container houses that exceed the National Building Code requirements for sturdiness, hurricane-proofing, and typhoon-proofing.

By opting for a container home, you can enjoy a multitude of benefits. To ensure a secure construction process, it’s essential to engage with a qualified service provider for your container home project. This ensures that your home is constructed to withstand hurricanes and typhoons.

Let us help you make that container living possible! Contact us to discuss your plans.

1 thought on “Can Container Homes Withstand Hurricanes?”

  1. I’m interested in your container solutions for staff housing and offices. Sent message to your listed number but could not get through. Would like to arrange a call please, thank you. I can be reached through the email provided. Thank you.

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