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 Some facilities attempt to maintain their outdated cold storage units, while others try to substitute cheaper household units for those specifically designed for laboratory purposes.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 vaccine storage facility will have different needs than those of one that stores volatiles, so a basic understanding of the needs for that laboratory is crucial in making the correct purchasing decision.

Know the Features
Once a firm grasp on the needs of the facility have been established, the staff can then research which units have the features to meet those needs. Many refrigerators come equipped with temperature monitoring and control systems. These systems can alert users when the temperature within the unit goes out of the prescribed range. This feature can be valuable for perishable items such as vaccines or whole blood. Other units, such as those designed for storing flammable materials, isolate any sources of internal sparks to prevent fires.

Estimate the Savings
Several instances have shown how short-term cost-cutting can lead to devastating catastrophes. From the spoilage of expensive vaccines to dangerous explosions, the hazards of selecting the wrong type of cold storage unit can be costly. Estimates on the long-term savings that the selection of the proper unit can offer will frequently offset the immediate costs. Although a scientific cold storage unit will cost more than one from a department store, the savings in time, money and convenience will quickly add up.

Learn the Procedures
One of the tasks of laboratory staffers is to monitor the freezers and refrigerators to ensure that the materials are stored at the proper temperatures. These workers must also occasionally rotate the stock, especially for biological samples, to prevent spoilage and keep supplies fresh and viable. When dealing with volatile materials, these staffers must also be educated on the safety protocols when handling samples and moving them to and from the storage unit. Their education on these procedures will prepare them for how to use the units most effectively.

Consult the Experts
The administrators can also contact the expert sales personnel at Tovatech to learn which refrigerators or freezers best fit their needs and budget. These experts understand the demands that state-of-the-art laboratories must meet, both in terms of budget constraints and in technical requirements that justify those budgets. They can also offer advice on the features and procedures that will allow the unit to be the best possible fit for that facility.

About Rachel Kohn

So how did an MIT Ph.D. end up selling refrigerators? When I figured out that a lot more scientists buy lab refrigerators than innovative leading-edge instruments. I hope that my many years of lab experience will help you find the right equipment for your work. Before co-founding Tovatech I worked in business development and project management at Smiths Detection, Photon-X, Cardinal Health, and Hoechst Celanese. And before that I spent 12 years as an R&D chemist at Hoechst Celanese and Aventis working on advanced drug delivery systems, polymer films and membranes, optical disks, and polysaccharides. Some day, eventually, I’ll make enough money to develop an innovative technology that will change the world. Read More