Thompson Fabricating Incorporated
Steel Fabricators For the Waste Industry

Figuring Capacity...

One of the more common questions asked in the container business is, “How do I figure out the capacity of my container?” The answer to this question is fairly simple to figure out with a basic calculator. The following are a couple variables that can change the final capacity.

-          Where were their dimensions being derived from? (Outer or Inner dimensions)

-          What type of Hook-Up the container uses? (Cable-Hook or Hook-Lift)

Typically most people will use the interior dimensions to get the most accurate capacity. Cable-Hook containers will slightly affect the capacity do due to a “Dog Box” or housing for the Cable-Hook which typically sets at the front inside portion of the container taking up very little space. Hook-lift containers will derive the most accurate figure because it has a true front with no dog box. Below are 3 simple dimensions you will need to help you can calculate the yardage of your container.

            Inside Width – Best described as the distance between the side sheets of your container.

            Inside Height – Is simply the distance from the floor to the top of the top rail on your container.

            Inside Length – This is the distance from the back side of the front end sheet, to the inside of the rear end sheet or tailgate sheet.

     You will notice when comparing containers from multiple manufactures and haulers the size can vary slightly in length and/or height which in return will affect capacity either increasing or decreasing slightly.

     Some of the reason for variations in container dimensions from different manufactures are due to design features that a certain manufactures containers may have and also for logistical reasons an adjustment of an 1/2” to an 1” can make the difference in whether or not an addition container can be stacked on the load when they are delivered to the hauler.

     The Haulers container may vary in size based on what manufacturer they purchase their containers from and also what style truck/hoist they use to haul the containers, for example haulers may have multiple containers with a capacity of 20 Yd. and the foot print of those containers can be different (ex.  16’ in length or 22’ in length) and the overall  height will be adjusted to achieve the 20 Yd. capacity, either way the container is still classified as a 20 Yd.

     Below is a diagram showing the areas to measure for the dimensions need to calculate the capacity of your container.

Now that you see what areas are needing measured to figure out your capacity, let’s show you how to use those dimensions to actually calculate the capacity.

The formula to figure out the volume or capacity of a space is as follows:

L (Length) x W (Width) x H (Height) = Cubic Inches of your Container


Now you’ll take that number & divide it by 46,656 (Cubic Inches in a Yard)

LxWxH / 46,656 = Yards your Container can hold


(EXAMPLE: 260” x 88” x 61” = 1,395,680 / 46,656 = 29.91 yds.)


You can use the same formula to figure out the volume or capacity of a space done in feet instead of inches and it is as follows:

L/12 (Length/12) x W/12 (Width/12) x H/12 (Height/12) = Cubic Feet of your Container


Now you’ll take that number & divide it by 27 (Cubic Feet in a Yard)

L/12 x W/12 x H/12 = LxWxH / 27 = Yards your Container can hold


(EXAMPLE: 21.66’ x 7.33’ x 5.08’ = 806.54 / 27 = 29.9yds)


            Now that you know how to figure out the capacity of your containers, you can also use it to determine exactly what size you’ll need when purchasing new containers in the future.