A professional laboratory refrigerator can cost between seven and nine times as much as a regular consumer fridge of the same size. The same ratio holds when talking about a scientific freezer and a home freezer. With this kind price differential, is there really a good reason to get a laboratory refrigerator special made for the purpose? Unless the only thing you’re cooling is staff lunches and drinks, here are five good reasons that a lab freezer or lab refrigerator is the superior choice for any kind of medical or laboratory environment.
- The defrost cycle of consumer refrigerators kills some enzymes and antibodies. Not all consumer refrigerators and freezers will have automatic defrost, but it’s becoming more and more common. If a commercial refrigerator does have a defrost mode, it not only means there’s an increased possibility for hotspots, but it also keeps the air in the chamber dry and snap-cap tubes can dry out. With something as important as laboratory and medical items, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- A laboratory refrigerator experiences far fewer fluctuations in temperature. Most foods and drinks can tolerate fairly substantial swings in temperature, but this is not the case with vaccines and other medical items, which need to be kept in a pharmacy grade refrigerator or vaccine freezer. The laboratory refrigerator is designed and calibrated to avoid such swings and will continue to offer good service and constant temperatures with regular calibration.
- What you’re storing is of the utmost value. Vaccines are just one of the essential items that are stored in a laboratory refrigerator, but they are a great example. Since 2000, over 17 million lives have been saved just by the measles vaccine alone, according to the World Health Organization and the Measles and Rubella Initiative. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimated in 2014 that we could have saved the lives of about 732,000 children over the previous 20 years with vaccines and prevented 21 million hospitalizations. Vaccines are crucial, and vaccines must be kept at constant, stable temperatures or they will lose their potency.
- A laboratory refrigerator has fewer cold and hot spots. A regular home refrigerator typically has quite an uneven distribution of temperature. Each shelf has a different temperature, and opening the door causes warm air to blow around and create more hot spots. Additionally, the coils of such refrigerators are on the back of the cabinet wall, while a laboratory refrigerator coils are separate and insulated away. Coils too close to the wall can cause items stored near them to freeze.
- A laboratory refrigerator comes with an array of necessary extra features. With a laboratory refrigerator, you can get door alarms both audible and visible, a key lock to make sure no one has access to items without authorization, a battery backup system in case you lose power, and even doors that will close by themselves to ensure you have no catastrophic loss of critical materials.
A consumer refrigerator or freezer may seem like a bargain, but in the end, it’s a false economy. The items stored labs or in medical offices are too precious to be put in anything but a purpose built medical grade refrigerator.