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Your Checklist for Your Lab’s New Undercounter Medical Refrigerator

  • by Kevin Driggers
  • Dec 2, 2019, 10:05 AM

Considering buying your next undercounter medical refrigerator in the coming year?  Then you probably are aware that there are a host of products out there—dozens of models—and that the technology is changing. And also that companies have different records of service, different warranties, and different reputations for quality.

As a professional in a science-based field, you know what it means to make an informed decision. We think it may help to have a checklist of points to consider when it comes to deciding what you need, what represents top quality in an undercounter medical refrigerator, and what to look for in terms of a company's compliance with industry and government standards and its support service.

Some of these checkpoints are easily verified by the product descriptions and attached specifications. For others, such as service, the reputation of the company in the field is the best guide. Brand names in the medical-sciences field tend to gain prominence for reliable promises.

Size and space

Start at the beginning with what size refrigerator unit you need, not just this year, but as things change and grow in your lab, practice setting, or pharmaceutical company. Since you are considering undercounter medical refrigerator units, we assume you are seeking something between one cubic foot and five cubic feet in capacity. As you consider measurements and your available space, keep in mind that quality cooling units require about four inches of space around them and space for front-facing vents. A consideration, when it comes to the location of the unit, is the placement of its hinges. If they need to be on one side or the other, keep that in mind.

Temperature control

Refrigerators are about temperature control. For medical refrigerators, of course, that is a pivotal challenge because vaccines, stored blood, laboratory samples, and other crucial, sensitive storage items must be kept at a highly consistent temperature. Consistency requires reliability, visibility (of any temperature changes), and awareness (a system for warning of any temperature changes).

The reliability of the unit, in fact, is the essence of "quality" when it comes to medical refrigerators. It raises several issues that should be on your checklist:

  • Construction: Quality will include, for example, the nature of insulation—something you generally assume when you select a reputable brand.

  • Temperature control: A microprocessor temperature controller and display give you precise temperature control and also recovery, a notable advance over mechanical-style thermostats. Your temperature read-out is critical in monitoring consistency and should be visible without opening the unit and should be adjustable between F degrees and C degrees. When you and your colleagues approach the unit for supplies, you should know instantly if there has been any temperature deviation that might affect their viability. Again, that means a reliable temperature readout that is easily visible.

  • Warning system. Relying on your unit to maintain a highly consistent temperature, you should know that any relevant changes will come to your attention. That requires a warning system that should be both audible and visible.

  • Protecting temperature control. Every time you or your colleagues open the unit, you challenge the unit's capacity to keep storage items at a consistent temperature. There are three factors, here, for your checklist:

  • High-quality refrigeration units come with many features and variations, of course, but if the issue of too-frequent opening of the unit might be a concern, then consider 1) a medical refrigerator with a glass door to make routine checks easier, 2) a door that closes reliably and tightly, and 3) a lock that prevents unauthorized, casual openings.

Durability

Any high-quality refrigeration unit represents a significant investment for your firm. You ought to be sure that the unit will function consistently and without breakdowns--or the need for major readjustments--over the life of the unit as represented by the manufacturer.

Features of your unit

Undercounter medical refrigerators offer different features. For example, you should be sure there are several adjustable shelves. There should be built-in guardrails against your storage items inadvertently being pushed against the back wall of the unit.

You can choose the right security for your lab's needs (e.g., number of users) if there is a choice of keyed or keyless locks. Also, add to your checklist the desirability of leveling legs and a magnetic door gasket to achieve a positive seal, ensuring that the door is closed every time.

Finally, check to be sure there is an access port that enables you to insert a probe into the unit for a monitoring system or other data collection. Without an access port, you would have to insert the probe through the door gasket, defeating the gasket's function.

Cost of operating the unit

Operating costs are not paramount. Consistency, reliability, trouble-free service, and features such as temperature visibility, warnings, and durability, are paramount. Nevertheless, you have a budget and the cost of energy over the years is not unimportant. Until recently, there was no Energy Star rating of medical refrigeration units. Now, the best companies are in compliance with such standards, so be aware that state-of-the-art energy savings are available.

Warranties and service

You will want the longest warranty you can obtain, consistent with dealing with a company that offers a reputation for quality and service. The three are essentially inseparable: product quality, reputation for service, and your warranty. Be sure that you seek out the best available.

The company and the environment

 We are all aware that companies differ substantially in their policies regarding their products and the environment. There are companies offering undercounter medical refrigerators that comply with SNAP, established in the Clean Air Act to encourage substitutes for ozone-depleting substances. Alternatives to ozone-depleting hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants today are safe and environmentally friendly and a better choice for efficiency.

In the same way, some companies have begun making all refrigerator and freezer units Energy Star approved. ENERGY STAR, of course, is a U.S. EPA voluntary program to help businesses save money and reduce risks to the climate through superior energy efficiency. The ABT-HC-UCBI-0404G-ADA purpose-built laboratory refrigerator is one of the most popular products within ABS’s growing Energy Star Certified portfolio, it can be found here

Choosing a company

As you begin your shopping for a top medical refrigeration unit, we hope you will consider American Biotech Supply (ABS), a Horizon Scientific, Inc., company that provides the spectrum of temperature-controlled equipment to the most demanding customers in health care, laboratory and clinical research, the pharmaceutical industry, and others.

We are confident that we meet all requirements you should seek in an undercounter medical refrigeration unit for any special purpose or application. With more than a quarter-century of experience, ABS excels in developing the solution that you need at a competitive price—and always providing a level of service that leads our industry. You can view a listing of ABS Refrigerators here.

Check back here regularly for information, insights, and updates on the latest in temperature-controlled equipment. Click here for a complete line up undercounter refrigerators.

 

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