Choosing the right freezer for a laboratory or hospital

Scientific freezers, or freezers, for the health sector are mainly used to store reagents, biological samples and medicines. As we’ll see in this guide, they have completely different characteristics to domestic freezers. Their temperature ranges vary according to the type of samples or the segment they are intended for. They are available with different technologies, features and accessories, depending on the model and brand.

View our laboratory and hospital freezers

  • What applications do freezers have in the health sector?

    We can distinguish three main types of freezers for the health sector, depending on their applications: laboratory freezers, freezers for blood banks and pharmacy freezers. Maintaining constant temperatures is crucial, as the slightest variation can compromise the preservation and properties of the samples. In addition, as biological and medical materials often have to be stored for weeks or even years at extremely low temperatures (down to -86°C), it is essential that the freezer provides optimum safety and reliability to ensure their preservation. The slightest malfunction can lead to the loss of precious samples or expensive reagents.

    PHC laboratory freezer

    They are used to store samples and/or reagents, especially in the biotechnology sector. These freezers make it possible to safely and reliably store ultra-sensitive substances, such as serums or antibodies, and even explosive substances.

    They are used to store and preserve blood and blood derivatives in blood banks.

    They are specifically designed to store and preserve medicines and vaccines.

    Main applications of scientific freezers

    • Laboratories: for reagents and samples
    • Blood banks
    • Pharmacies: for medicines and vaccines
  • What are the different freezer configurations?

    You can choose between different freezer configurations according to the space available for your installation. There are vertical, horizontal and built-in freezers. The types of doors vary depending on the model. You can also opt for a combined fridge and freezer.

    They take up little space on the floor. However, they consume more energy than equivalent horizontal models. Upright freezers are practical when you need regular access to stored samples.

    They take up more space than vertical ones, but are more economical as they consume less energy. When space is not an issue, it is preferable to opt for this type of freezer.

    They can be installed under a workbench, for example in a laboratory. They are very practical, but generally offer less storage capacity.

    The freezers have between one and four doors. There are models with glass doors and others with solid doors.

    These models have at least two independent compartments: one that functions as a freezer (with temperatures below 0°C) and the other as a refrigerator (with temperatures above 0°C).

    Liebherr horizontal freezer

    Vertical freezer from B Medical Systems

  • Which temperature range to choose when buying a freezer?

    One of the main features to bear in mind when buying a freezer is its temperature range. The choice will depend on the type of products you need to store and for how long. The temperature ranges vary depending on the type of freezer:

    • Conventional freezers: up to -20°C.
    • Low temperature freezers: up to -40°C.
    • Very low temperature freezers: up to -60°C.
    • Ultrafreezers, or ultra-low temperature freezers: down to -80°C or lower. They are used to store vaccines or temperature-sensitive biological samples (DNA, RNA, viruses, proteins) in laboratories. This is the type of freezer used to transport and store Pfizer’s vaccines against Covid-19, for example.
  • How do you guarantee an adequate and stable storage temperature?

    To ensure that your products are kept in ideal refrigeration conditions, you can opt for freezers with technologies that make it easier to monitor the temperature and you should always take into account the climate class of the appliance.

    High/low temperature alarm

    Certain freezer models activate an audible or visual alarm when they detect a temperature outside the programmed range, immediately alerting users to any anomalies.

    RFID technology

    Freezers with RFID technology offer the possibility of continuously monitoring the temperature at which samples are stored, which is essential for controlling the cold chain. What’s more, it’s an intelligent solution that generally only allows authorized personnel to open the freezer via RFID access control and always records the identity of the person who accessed it, the date and time of access, what was put in or taken out of the freezer and where.

    Climate class

    It is also essential to pay attention to the climate class of the freezer. This refers to the ambient temperature range in which the equipment must be used in order for it to function correctly and meet the expected conservation conditions. The climate class is indicated by one or more letters on the appliance’s plate or label, along with other characteristics. There are eight climatic classes:

    • SN-T (extended tropical): for use at an ambient temperature between 10°C and 43°C.
    • SN (extended temperate): between 10°C and 32°C.
    • SN-ST (extended subtropical): between 10°C and 38°C.
    • N (temperate): between 16°C and 32°C.
    • N-ST (temperate to subtropical): between 16°C and 38°C.
    • N-T (temperate to tropical): between 16°C and 43°C.
    • ST (semi-tropical): between 18°C and 38°C.
    • T (tropical): between 18°C and 43°C.

    For a suitable storage temperature:

    • High/low temperature alarm
    • RFID technology for cold chain tracking
    • Climate class
  • What are the innovations in freezers?

    Manufacturers are sparing no effort to develop ever more innovative solutions for the cold chain, particularly in the area of tracking and preserving samples. The equipment must be able to guarantee the maintenance of the cold chain, which requires continuous temperature control and monitoring and product traceability.

    Environmental issues are also taken into account, and today there are solar-powered freezers , which are therefore not dependent on access to the electricity grid. Their use is particularly important in areas affected by natural disasters or in regions where power cuts are frequent, as the use of these freezers can guarantee the continuity of the cold chain.

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