List of Articles in the Category Lab Refrigerator

How to Choose a Lab Refrigerator or Freezer

How to Choose a Lab Refrigerator or FreezerSelecting a laboratory refrigerator or laboratory freezer is not the same as visiting the local appliance store to pick out a unit for your kitchen.  There are substantial differences.  Not only that, there is a tremendous variety of models available in terms of capacity and performance features. 

This post quickly describes differences between household and laboratory refrigerators and freezers. Then we’ll looks into the many feature options available and help you select the model that meets your requirements.

Essential Features for Scientific Refrigerators

Scientific Refrigerators from Norlake

Scientific refrigerators have essential design and performance features that support their ability to safely store temperature sensitive biologicals, pharmaceuticals and similar products under exacting conditions.  At Tovatech we suggest customers consider scientific refrigerators such as the Norlake Select series an investment to protect valuable and sometimes irreplaceable contents from temperature excursions that would render them useless.   

How Scientific Refrigeration Equipment Works

Video on How Scientific Refrigeration Works

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Many of our posts on scientific refrigeration equipment focus on selecting correct scientific refrigerator and scientific freezer units, and the importance of temperature control, monitoring and alarming systems that protect valuable vaccines, biological specimens and similar temperature-sensitive materials.

It might be a stretch to liken laboratory,  pharmacy and scientific refrigeration equipment purchases with automobile purchases where the savvy buyer is interested in “what’s under the hood?”  Nevertheless we post this post on what’s “under the cabinet” of your scientific refrigerator or freezer.  Our point is to point out how these units protect your investment in their contents.

Your take-away is a better understanding about how refrigeration works, which type of lab refrigerator or freezer to buy, how to maintain it, and where to set it up to get the best performance. 

Critical Procedures to Preserve Valuable Biological Samples

Preservation of biological samples such as tissues, plasma and forensic and pathology specimens relies on maintaining proper storage temperatures and on the type of sample and analysis to be done. Sample temperatures must be monitored and facilities supported by backup systems and tracking. As per the FDA, frozen samples should be kept at –28 to –18 °C and refrigerated samples between –2 and –8 °C; ambient samples should be protected from heat and moisture.  Tovatech’s Dr. Bob Sandor authored an article on this critical topic in American Laboratory’s March 2017 print issue that can be accessed on the LabCompare website.

Selecting Scientific Refrigeration Equipment

Selecting Scientific Refrigeration Equipment

Scientific refrigeration equipment includes refrigerators and freezers used to store vaccines, pharmaceuticals, biological samples and similar temperature-sensitive products and specimens for healthcare, R&D and related applications.  Scientific refrigerators and freezers have critical performance requirements generally unmet by residential and commercial refrigeration systems.  For this reason they are highly recommended to protect contents that lose potency or are otherwise compromised by what are called temperature excursions above or below recommended storage settings. Therefore, selecting scientific refrigeration equipment for your needs is key.

Correct storage temperatures are usually recommended by professional or government organizations.  The CDC, for example, recommends in its 2016 Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit that frozen vaccines be stored between -50⁰ and -15⁰C (-58⁰ and + 5⁰F); refrigerated vaccines should be stored at 2⁰ and 8⁰C (36⁰ and 46⁰ F).  Vaccine manufacturers indicate correct storage temperatures that should apply along what is called the “cold chain” extending from the … Read the rest

Blood Storage Refrigerator Specifications

The Norlake undercounter blood bank refrigerator with temperature chart recorder.

The Norlake undercounter blood bank refrigerator with temperature chart recorder.

The Code of Federal Regulations CFR 640.4 (h) provides guidelines for blood storage immediately after collection.  Unless it is to be further processed, blood storage should be at temperatures between 1 and 6⁰C.   Blood storage refrigerators should be designed in such a way to maintain these tight temperature tolerances.  Added useful capabilities are alerting personnel in the event of temperature excursions and automatically recording the unit’s internal temperature for record keeping.

Examples of Blood Bank Refrigerators

Examples of scientific refrigerators ideal for blood storage are Nor-Lake units available from Tovatech.  These auto-defrost units range in size from a 4.2 cubic foot, 4-drawer undercounter unit to 1, 2  and 3-door upright models with 24, 33, 52 and 80 cubic feet of storage capacity.  These refrigerators meet AABB, ANRC and FDA requirements

All models feature glass doors to facilitate content monitoring and … Read the rest

How to Prep your Lab Refrigerator for Hot Weather

Is your healthcare facility prepared for an outage?

Is your healthcare facility prepared for an outage?

Gershwin’s Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy from “Porgy and Bess” does not apply to the safekeeping of pharmaceuticals and other temperature-sensitive products in the lab refrigerator.  In addition to high ambient temperatures (air conditioning notwithstanding) the good old summertime is typified by electrical storms that may result in power outages taking out not only the air conditioning but power to lab refrigerators and lab freezers.

Power Outage Planning for Laboratory Refrigerators

Planning for power outages appears frequently in our posts dealing with vaccine refrigeration and the vaccines for children program.  Emergency generators provide the best assurance of power continuation in the event of long outages such as occasioned by hurricanes. These units should be tested on a regular basis to assure they are ready to power up immediately when public power fails.

Healthcare facilities unequipped with backup generators should have plans … Read the rest

10 cu. ft. Medical Refrigerator with 2 x 2 ft. Footprint

The SA10WRDT auto-defrost medical refrigerator

The SA10WRDT auto-defrost medical refrigerator

Healthcare facilities with tight space constraints for storing refrigerated vaccines and other pharmaceuticals may find a solution in a new 10 cu. ft. medical refrigerator requiring only 2 square feet of floor space and can be either free standing or built in.
The 58-inch high SA10WRDT auto-defrost medical refrigerator now available from Tovatech features a stainless steel interior and 4 cantilevered chromium-plated shelves for improved sanitation and high storage flexibility. Energy-efficient recessed LED lighting helps medical personnel quickly locate contents.

Exacting temperature control is provided by a digital thermostat; the interior temperature is displayed externally. The unit’s lock-equipped, reversible flat door design has no shelves thereby conforming to CDC guidelines to help ensure stable temperature conditions for sensitive products. As an added safety measure an alarm sounds if the door is left open for longer than a minute.

Medical Refrigerator Temperature Alarm Option

The annual … Read the rest

When to Specify a Flammable Refrigerator

The 24 cubic foot Norlake refrigerator for flammable storage

The 24 cubic foot Norlake refrigerator for flammable storage

Google refrigerator explosions and chances are you’ll get a lot of hits because of news articles reporting on refrigerator explosions. These events can be spectacular, dangerous and costly. They occur when flammable products are stored in conventional refrigeration units and fumes are ignited by refrigerator electronics such as thermostats, compressors, timers and light switches. A refrigerator for flammable storage is designed to prevent these occurrences. Designs differ from more costly explosion proof refrigerators designed to eliminate the danger of igniting volatile vapors in the laboratory environment.

We agree it is a subtle but important difference. Confusion can occur because most reported refrigerator explosions result when the contents or vapors explode due to an internal ignition source.

Flammable Storage Refrigerator Safety Standards

We’ll start by stating that workarounds do not work when it comes to satisfying NFPA and OSHA guidelines regarding storing … Read the rest

How to Improve Vaccine Storage Temperature Monitoring

The NIST-calibrated DL2 temperature logger kit

The NIST-calibrated DL2 temperature logger kit

Vaccine storage temperature monitoring and reporting are critical requirements for healthcare facilities participating in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. Procedures are clearly spelled out in the CDC’s Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit.
To comply with these procedures vaccine refrigerators and freezers must be equipped with temperature alarming and recording devices. A temperature logger kit now available from Tovatech can be installed on vaccine storage units that otherwise meet CDC regulations but lack temperature logging and alarming capability.

NIST-Certified Temperature Logger

Supplied with a 5 volt DC power adapter, the compact .75” x 9.25” x 5.5” (HWD) NIST-calibrated DL2 temperature logger kit stores data on a 4GB USB flash drive for retrieval and archiving to a PC or Mac. It is equipped with a backup rechargeable lithium-ion battery that operates the logger for up to 20 hours in the event of a power failure.… Read the rest