Quality control is essential for their establishment of a properly functional lab. One of the hallmarks of a well-run lab is consistency in its QC procedures. And, a high-quality lab refrigerator is a key component of those procedures. Whether it’s chemicals, compounds, samples, or specimens; unless properly refrigerated or frozen to specification, it can significantly impact the quality and reliability of the procedure, test, or experiment.
More Than Temperature Control
While it’s cooling or freezing capabilities are crucial, because your lab freezer is such a central element of your operations, it’s important to raise the bar for selecting your cooling or freezing equipment. Yes, design and size matters too, but so do several other features.
Here’s a list of things you should look for when looking for the perfect refrigerator or freezer:
- Temperature Range
This is a no-brainer! It all depends on the equipment you’re looking for, which may range from an ULT freezer to cryogenic units, or a general purpose lab refrigerator. Each have their unique temperature capabilities. For instance, ultra-low temperature freezers may vary from -30 o F to -40o F, while many cryogenic freezers offer ranges of -238o F and above. For general duty refrigerators, that range may vary between 32o F to 50o F. Make sure you buy the one that fits the needs of your lab.
- Safety and Monitoring
Look for additional features, including warning alarms, monitoring panels, LED information displays, and temp alarms. It’s advantageous to have the ability to modify settings according to your labs’ needs. Another key feature is the “Alarm systems”. These systems monitor temperature and send an email, SMS text, or voice alarm to the lab staff to warn of temperature deviations beyond the operator’s max or min parameters.
Most mid and high range laboratory refrigerators and freezers have either temperature recorders (paper) or digital recorders. Some include wireless monitoring features that laboratory staff can use to verify sample security and validate cold chain compliance, either through their local area networks (LAN) or via cloud storage systems. Smart data logging features also empower lab monitoring staff with the ability to check refrigerator data readings from anywhere – at home, at satellite office locations, or on the go – using their mobile devices.
- Size, Ergonomics and Placement
Don’t order your lab refrigerator first, and then try to fit it in your lab! Ask the tough questions first: How big a freezer or refrigerator do I need? Can I make do with two smaller units, instead of a single larger one? Where is the best place to locate it so staff can access it easily? Which other equipment makes most sense to house near your freezer or refrigerator? Can doors slide or swing open without obstruction? Check your floorplan and layout before making these decisions.
Today’s laboratory freezers and refrigerators are built with user-friendly designs, therefore enabling ease of user interaction. Intuitive controls, including digital panels, touch-sensitive controls, and helpful icons and imagery, remove operator guesswork when using the equipment. Features such as vacuum relief ports, and the use of magnetic door gaskets, make the equipment ergonomically friendly to use and operate.
Sourcing Your Freezers and Refrigerators
Once you’ve performed your assessment, it’s time go shopping. It is not always the best choice to order a new lab freezer or refrigerator. Don’t hesitate to shop for refurbished or previously used options. You’ll be amazed at how many laboratories recycle their previously used units after a short service life. They surplus their old equipment which gives start-up labs the opportunity to acquire them at cost-effective prices.