Used Shipping Containers Transformed Into an Epic Off-Grid Cabin

We spent two nights in this epic off-grid oceanfront cabin that’s built with 3 used 20ft shipping containers. It’s on a gorgeous beach in Portugal just north of Lisbon.

The builder, David, is an avid surfer and wanted to build an off-grid surfing retreat by the coast. He chose shipping containers as his building blocks because they’re made with Cor-Ten steel which can withstand harsh marine environments, and even though they eventually rust, the rust will actually protect the containers rather than weaken them.

He collects rainwater from the roof of a small shed, and stores the water in an underground water cistern. From there, he uses a solar powered pump to fill a 1000-liter container on top of his shipping container shed. This container provides water for the kitchen and bathroom sinks, the toilet, and the shower via gravity. This is more efficient because the pump only needs to be turned on once to fill the large container on the roof, and then the rest of the water delivery is passive (gravity fed).

For power, he has one 230 Watt solar panel, a 1500 Watt inverter, and a total of 180 amp hours of battery power.

He also uses the sun to get hot water for the shower by running the rain water through 2 coils of black hoses on the roof.

For heat, he doesn’t need much since Portugal has a very mild winter, but the nights do get chilly so there’s a kerosene space heater. We figured out that it was a bit smelly when lighting and extinguishing the heater, so we’d bring it outside to do both, and then we avoided any smell indoors. It worked quite well and also has a built-in safety shut-off when the inside air has low oxygen or high carbon monoxide (we’re not sure which it measures).

For anyone interested in seeing what it’s like to stay in an off-grid shipping container, this is a gorgeous place to do it! Crazy views of the ocean, quiet beach, and great surfing (from what we’ve heard).

We found this place on Glamping Hub and they helped us arrange our 2-night stay there. You can find out more about this off-grid container cabin on their website here:

To see more shipping container cabins, check out our playlist here:

Thanks for watching!

Mat & Danielle


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Music & Song Credits:
All music in this video was composed, performed, and recorded by Mat of Exploring Alternatives.

Editing Credits:
Mat and Danielle of Exploring Alternatives

Filming Credits:
Mat of Exploring Alternatives

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41 Replies to “Used Shipping Containers Transformed Into an Epic Off-Grid Cabin”

  1. Davis C

    Containers are great if your planning to move them often, but as a permanent structure it makes no sense financially to use them. Much cheaper to use standard building materials and have an actual home that carries value, can be financed, and insured.

  2. Messenger Charles

    Very poorly set up. Should have at least 6 solar panels and then store electric in more batteries. Rain water should also be collected from the container roofs. A wood burner stove would be more cost effective than bottled gas.

  3. Dan 821

    Wow this give me ideas!!
    May I ask how did they get the slope to the roof? If the adjoining walls were removed and the containers welded together, wouldn't the roof be flat? Unless they did some extra structure on top.

  4. Roh Tati


  5. Fred Level

    I was a bit surprised by some of the choices made by the owner:
    – very limited solar capacity despite the location
    – no wind turbine in such place is very surprising
    – flushing toilets ! Where does it all go and why not composting toilets?

  6. Brett Bradbeer

    Just beautiful the scenery and the cabin and what is even more beautiful is that it is off grid no reliance on money making greedy companies, ❤️❤️❤️ pure living is pure pleasure 👍

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