When it comes to a cold storage unit, you don’t want to settle for less. A pharmaceutical-grade refrigerator or lab freezer is one of the most important parts of your lab. Precise temperature control and monitoring, secure insulation and alert systems, and other features make this equipment far more important than your standard household fridge or freezer. However, not all cold storage units are the same. Every laboratory has its own needs, which means you have to find the medical refrigerator to match your specific layout, materials, and processes. The right laboratory refrigerator can make your lab as cost-effective as possible by preserving your products and materials, keeping a safe, organized inventory, and making your employees’ jobs much easier. When it’s time to purchase a cold storage unit for your lab—or replace your old one—choose the best option with this list of what to consider when buying a laboratory refrigerator.
What Are You Storing?
While this question may seem obvious, it’s the first thing you need to ask yourself when shopping for a laboratory refrigerator. What kind of materials do you need to keep in a cold storage unit? If your medical lab works with vaccines, you’ll need a completely different unit than a lab that stores blood and plasma. Manufacturers design certain refrigerators and freezers to house certain materials. If you plan on storing vaccines, blood and plasma, or pharmaceutical supplies, make sure you choose a unit that suits exactly what you need. This will help ensure you have the temperature control, security, and other features you need for your specific materials. You should also ask yourself if you need a fireproof or spark-resistant unit. If your lab works with flammable materials, a fireproof refrigerator or freezer functions without any sources of ignition, making it much safer for you to store these products.
The Temperature Range
In addition to what kinds of materials your lab stores, you also need to consider the temperature requirements for each of those materials. This will help you choose the right type of cold storage unit. Will a standard laboratory refrigerator work for you, or do you need a low-temperature freezer? There are four main types of cold storage units to suit your needs. Standard pharmaceutical-grade refrigerators generally run between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, or 36 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Lab freezers run at about –10 to –25 degrees Celsius, or 14 to –13 degrees Fahrenheit. Low-temperature freezers can store materials at –45 degrees Celsius, or –49 degrees Fahrenheit. Finally, there are ultra-low freezers, which run from –50 to –86 degrees Celsius, or –58 to –123 degrees Fahrenheit. Before you purchase a cold storage unit, double-check its specifications as well as your material requirements so you can be sure you have the right refrigerator or freezer for the job.
The Storage Space
Next on the list of what to consider when buying a laboratory refrigerator is the amount of space you need. Think about both internal space and external dimensions. You want to make sure you have enough storage space for all the temperature-sensitive materials in your lab, but you also need to make sure the unit will fit in your facility. Fortunately, you have a number of options. If you run a smaller lab that doesn’t work with a massive inventory, you can choose a shorter undercounter or benchtop unit. For larger labs, two- or three-door refrigerators can give you the storage space you need for all of your materials. An overfilled refrigerator can lead to accidents and damaged materials, so you never want to run out of room in your unit. On the other hand, having too much space can cost your lab a lot of unnecessary money and energy. Make sure you look over your inventory needs carefully before making a final decision.
The Layout of Your Lab
While you’re considering your lab’s size requirements, you should also think about the layout of the facility. Where are you going to place your new laboratory refrigerator or freezer? Make sure you look at the unit’s ventilation requirements as well. If you choose a freestanding unit, you will need space at the sides and top of the unit to allow air to circulate. Check out clearance requirements as well. Your new cold storage unit might need room behind, beside, or above it for coils and other components to sit safely. If you set aside a place for your unit before you buy it, you help ensure easy installation and a safe place for your new equipment to reside.
You should also keep in mind how you and your staff will work in and around the lab fridge. Many units come with accessories that make organization and accessibility much easier for your team. Consider what the shelving units look like. Does the refrigerator come with additional shelving? What are the shelves made of? Glass shelving makes cleaning the unit’s interior easier, but it can disrupt airflow within the refrigerator. Plastic, perforated, or wire shelves work better with the unit’s circulation to keep your materials at a consistent temperature. Consider door storage as well. While it may provide extra space for your materials, anything stored in the door will be more susceptible to outside air every time you open the unit.
What Kind of Security Do You Need?
If you rely on your medical refrigerator or lab freezer to keep your materials at the right temperature, what happens if the power goes out, an employee leaves the unit door open, or other mistakes occur? Your cold storage unit should offer security as well as temperature regulation. Look at features such as self-closing doors, locks, and a rapid cool-down setting to return the unit to its proper temperature whenever you open and close the door. Many units also come with alert systems that warn you about temperature fluctuations. You should also consider units with external temperature monitors and other features that allow you to keep track of your materials without opening the door and disrupting the environment within. Finally, look at backup power options to keep your fridge running in case of a power outage or other emergency.
Your laboratory deserves a refrigerator or freezer that meets all of your requirements. Shop from pharmaceutical refrigerator suppliers who make every penny worth it by visiting K2 Scientific today. We have the specifications and features you need to protect your materials, keep an organized inventory, and make your lab as productive and cost-effective as possible.