Which refrigerator or freezer should you use in a Life Sciences laboratory?
Aug 09 2018 Read 346 Times
Seems a simple question doesn’t it, but in reality there are a lot of options out there. At Labcold, we have been supplying professional equipment to the scientific community for over 85 years so we’ve got plenty of experience to help answer that question.
Obviously, it depends on the discipline. Where blood products are stored for transfusion it goes without saying that they have to be stored in professional equipment designed for that purpose and manufactured in accordance with ISO 13485 medical device quality management standards. Labcold blood bank refrigerators, plasma freezers, platelet agitators and incubators have all been manufactured to this level since 2009, in fact we were the first UK manufacturer to do so. In addition, Labcold are now an accredited UKAS calibration laboratory (no 8898) meaning that we have both the technical competence, resource and management systems in place to deliver technically valid calibration results.
Assuming you don’t work in a transfusion laboratory what should you look for in a fridge or freezer for your laboratory?
One of the most frequent questions we frequently get is, “Why can’t I just buy one from the high street?” which, to be fair, with the technological improvements in domestic fridges over recent years is a valid question. Many now come fitted with alarms and temperature displays, something you wouldn’t have seen ten or even five years ago on a domestic model. However, usually it’s not the visible technology that makes the difference.
For a start, refrigerators and freezers in the average domestic setting are not required to store items that give off flammable vapours and as a result they have the thermostat in the inside of the fridge or freezer. As you’re probably aware, a thermostat causes a spark when it turns on. It’s very small, but if there are flammable vapours around it can cause a really big explosion. That’s why Labcold has a sparkfree range of fridges and freezers carefully designed so all sources of ignition have been removed from the inside of the cabinet.
While we’re on the subject of the difference between the contents of laboratory fridge and a domestic one, it’s probably time to mention the obvious. A domestic fridge is designed to store food, that’s why you have a salad crisper and a glass shelf. Ideal if you want to stop lettuce from freezing and meat from spoiling but not helpful if you want to store temperature sensitive medicines, vaccines and reagents, especially as the set point of a domestic fridge will be around 3°C and they need to be stored between 2°C and 8°C to keep their marketing authorisation. Professional pharmacy fridges like Labcold’s Advanced and IntelliCold™ range have a set point of 5°C so protect from freezing and alarm at 2°C and 8°C helping you to keep product within it’s proscribed temperature range. There’s no salad crisper and glass shelf to get in the way and they all benefit from fan circulated air, meaning that unlike an average domestic fridge there is no ±5°C temperature variation.
Finally, it seems obvious but laboratory fridge and freezers are built, well, for laboratory use. That’s why they come in a range of sizes from bench top to big double door cabinets with shelves that can hold contents up to 70kg. The Labcold range also has stainless steel exteriors and often stainless steel interiors to ensure they can withstand heavy use and chemical contents. They also feature locks for security, external digital temperature displays and either are capable of, or have, access ports fitted as standard so it’s easy to put them on a LIMS system.
The answer to the question, “what refrigerator or freezer should you use in a Life Sciences laboratory” is, despite the cost, get a professional one designed for the purpose for which you intend to use it, your work is too important to skimp on this laboratory essential. For extra peace of mind it pays to chose a company like Labcold, which not only specialise in manufacturing laboratory refrigerators but have a customer service team only a phone call away to answer any queries plus mobile engineers across the UK and account managers who can help you choose the right fridge or freezer for your laboratory.
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