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Choosing the Right Freezer for your Medical and Lab Facility

  • by Kevin Driggers
  • Sep 14, 2020, 13:20 PM

Freezers play a fundamental role in the successful operation of laboratories and medical facilities. They offer safe and reliable storage for samples and medications requiring low-temperature environments.

Nevertheless, every facility has unique freezer needs. While research laboratories require a freezer that provides a steady temperature for critical biological samples, an outpatient clinic may need a freezer to keep ice packs to treat patients with muscle pains or burns. 

There are different freezer options to choose from, depending on your unique medical and lab needs. It is essential to choose the right freezer for your facility. Using the wrong freezer can have dangerous and costly repercussions. For instance, storing vaccines in fluctuating temperatures can destroy their effectiveness, which can be life-threatening.

This article explains the qualities of different types of medical and lab freezers so you can choose the ideal one for your facility.

How is a Lab/Medical Freezer Different?

Before we examine different types of lab and med freezers, let's discuss what makes them different. Lab freezers are different from conventional freezers because they are designed to meet stringent safety standards. Also, they are meant for use in medical and lab environments. Med freezers are used to store vaccines, sensitive research samples, medical chemicals, and donations like blood, plasma, and bone marrow. 

Med freezers meet the following requirements:

  • Maintain a specific temperature consistently

  • Alert the user if the freezer falls out of the needed temperature range.

  • Offer unprecedented durability to avert the costs and consequences of ruined samples and medications.

Types of Freezers

· Upright Freezers

They are the most prominent type of lab freezers. They are suitable for various lab settings like hospitals, pharmaceutical firms, and research institutions.

Upright freezers have shelving units that make sample organization easy and effective. Also, they are renowned for their spatial efficiency. Since upright freezers have an upright design, they take up minimal floor space while offering huge storage space.

Upright freezers open from the top, just like home freezers. They come in different sizes, ranging from small counter-top freezers to large freezers for storing large quantities of samples.

Small upright freezers are ideal for practices with limited space or need to store a small capacity of samples and medications. Large upright freezers are suitable for big research institutions and hospitals.    

· Undercounter Freezers

These freezers are small and fit into the space allocated to them. They are suitable for labs with limited floor space since they use cabinet space, rather than floor space.

Undercounter freezers are similar to upright freezers. However, they fit more seamlessly into space. Also, a majority of undercounter freezers have a huge upfront installation cost. 

· Chest Freezers

These freezers are large and provide a huge amount of storage space. They are ideal for research facilities that need to store large items in a single device.

Among the features of chest freezers include locks, digital temperature displays, and alarm systems to indicate temperature changes. Rather than opening from the front, chest freezers open from the top.

Nevertheless, chest freezers do not have shelving, making them unideal for labs requiring a high level of organization.   

· Ultra-low Freezers

As the name implies, ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers have extremely low temperatures of below -40°c. Some of these freezers have temperatures as low as -86oc. Both medical facilities and research institutions can use these freezers to store samples and drugs requiring low temperatures.

ULT freezers get to such low temperatures by leveraging two independent evaporator circuits in the anterior chamber. However, they use a significant amount of energy to maintain the low temperatures. As such, you may incur huge energy bills.

Factors to Consider when Buying a Freezer

Having discussed the different types of freezers, it is time to choose the best one for your facility. While you may already have a specific purpose in mind, these factors will help you narrow down on the right one.

· Size and Capacity

Consider available space in your facility and the storage capacity needed. An upright freezer takes up less floor space while offering a huge storage capacity. Chest freezers require more floor space, and are ideal for storing large items.

It is best practice to choose a larger freezer for your facility to meet future storage needs. Most labs tend to increase capacity with time. As such, a larger freezer is great to ensure you are not falling behind capacity as time passes.  

· Temperature

Samples, medications, and vaccines require different temperatures to be viable. Luckily, the best thing about med freezers is that they offer a precise temperature sustainably and consistently. Consequently, you can choose a freezer that meets the temperature range you need. If you will use the freezer to store sensitive samples that require very low temperatures, then a ULT freezer is perfect.

· Cost

A freezer can be pretty expensive. Small upright freezers, countertops units, and built-in models are typically less costly than large ULT freezers.

Start by identifying the features you need in a freezer to get a better idea of the cost. Then, you will know how much you should budget for.

· Energy Efficiency

Freezers are typically energy-intensive. Nonetheless, you can conserve energy and cut costs by choosing freezers that are Energy Star Rated. Also, look for manufacturers that prioritize energy efficiency.    

· Features

You can consider features such as warning systems, temperature control systems, and shelves, depending on your facility's needs.  

The Takeaway

If you are looking for a freezer for your medical facility, it is fundamental to select one that meets your needs and offers optimal performance. The freezer will affect your patients' health, the viability of your research, and the lifespan of the medications you are storing. As such, it is crucial to choose the right freezer for your medical practice or research lab.

There are different kinds of freezers in the market, ranging from upright freezers to ULT freezers and chest freezers. This article explores the qualities of each freezer so that you choose the best one for your facility. Choose the right freezer today, and safeguard valuable, expensive, and life-saving samples and medications.      

 


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