List of Articles in the Category Refrigerators

How to Select an Ultra-Low Temperature Freezer

Norlake Select ultra-low freezers have 5 internal compartments

Norlake Select ultra-low freezers have 5 internal compartments

A lot of thought should go into specifying an ultra-low temperature freezer and this post is designed to help you sort through the considerations that apply.  These units are not inexpensive; their function is to protect contents of high value and sometimes for long periods of time.  Fortunately, there are a number of ultra-low temperature freezers on the market to ease the selection of a model that best suits your needs.

What is Meant by Ultra-Low Temperature?

Good question.

There are freezers, low-temperature freezers and ultra-low temperature freezers on the market.  Here are some examples that apply to scientific (not commercial or household) freezers.  Note that different manufacturers may define the temperature capabilities of their various models differently.

  • Scientific laboratory and pharmacy freezers can control ranges from -10⁰ to -25⁰C (+14⁰ to -13⁰F)
  • Low temperature freezers, depending on the model and function:
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How to Select a Stability Test Chamber

Knowing how to specify a stability test chamber calls for a clear understanding of what stability test chambers do, how they relate to the various components or ingredients that go into the product you manufacture and where these products are used. 

In this post we’ll provide some examples of things to consider when specifying a stability test chamber then share suggestions on what to look for in this critical equipment. 

As a refresher or for readers new to the subject here is an answer to what constitutes a stability test chamber.

What is a Stability Test Chamber?

Most stability test chambers resemble a large scientific refrigerator.  Only instead of keeping contents cool, their function is to replicate variations in temperature, humidity and light over long periods of time. This is critical when pharmaceutical companies, for example, wish to bring new products to market. 

It has everything to do with … Read the rest

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. 

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

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

Meeting JCAHO Requirements for Refrigerated Storage

The Secure Guard II door lock

The Secure Guard II door lock

Keypad door locks help meet JCAHO requirements for securing samples stored in healthcare organizations’ refrigerators and freezers.  The aim is to control access to lab freezer and lab refrigerator contents while eliminating the risks of keys being lost or duplicated without authorization.  A solution for security departments in healthcare organizations and research labs is the Norlake Secure Guard II™ keypad door lock system.  It is compatible with Nor-Lake glass and solid door scientific refrigerators and freezers as well as certain models from other suppliers.

Secure Guard II, available from Tovatech, provides up to 250 users with access to refrigerated storage units using their existing magstripe ID or proximity ID cards.  Adding and deleting users can be accomplished at the unit.  Stored information is safe due to the non-volatile memory.   An audit trail of the most recent 1500 access attempts provides date, time and user … Read the rest

Vaccine Refrigerators Slow Down MMR Outbreak

A recent report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that health care professionals who treated children in a small New York community with an additional dose of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine likely halted an outbreak of mumps in 2009 and 2010. The vaccines, which children receive at 12-15 months and 4-6 years of age, are stored in specially-designed refrigerators that allow for the preservation of the materials,while not allowing them to become so cold that they lose their effectiveness

Close Contact Led to Outbreak
mmrChildren who attended a religious camp in the state’s Catskill Mountains were often in close one-on-one contact with study partners in classes known as “chavrusas”. A study found that the close contact led to an outbreak of mumps in the small, insular Jewish community. Although medical records showed that the children did receive both the recommended vaccine and the … Read the rest

How to Buy a Laboratory Refrigerator/Freezer on a Budget

In the current economic climate, with shrinking budgets and tight credit, many laboratories are under a great deal of strain, especially when it comes to purchasing new equipment. Some facilities attempt to maintain their outdated cold storage units, while others try to substitute cheaper household units for those specifically designed for laboratory purposes. In the long run, neither of these alternatives are acceptable. Laboratory administrators should understand that they can take several steps to toward purchasing a new laboratory refrigerator or freezer without depleting their limited budgets.

lab-fridge-fullUnderstand Your Needs
Although a subcompact car often costs less than a pickup truck, each vehicle is equipped to accomplish different tasks. Most people would not buy a subcompact car to do the tasks required of a pickup truck solely based on the price tag. Just as with vehicles, laboratory personnel should not purchase a refrigerator or freezer based solely on price. A … Read the rest

Hospital Freezers Enable Biobanking Efforts

For decades, hospitals and clinics have stored blood in refrigerators and freezers for later use. These blood supplies are stored with care as to their type (A, B, AB, O), Rh factor (positive or negative), composition (red blood cells, plasma, platelets) and other criteria. In today’s medical facilities, many scientists are taking a similar approach to their biological samples by cataloging the biological samples in their cold storage units with a higher degree of specificity. These efforts have started a movement known as “biobanking”.

What is Biobanking?
biobankingIn hospitals around the world, doctors and other professionals have attempted to gather, store and dispense biological samples for scientific inquiry and diagnostic improvements. The facilities can preserve samples of blood, tissue, urine, saliva, DNA and other biological materials in their freezers for long periods of time, but only lately have they made strides toward tracking and cataloging these precious materials. These efforts … Read the rest