A Guide To Buying Laboratory & Medical Fridges

The need for a constant temperature-controlled refrigerator is an important consideration across the scientific, medical, and healthcare sectors.

These units are categorized as either pharmacy or laboratory refrigerators. Regardless of category, refrigerators must be hygienic, have a fine degree of temperature maintenance and control, with high reliability.

Typical applications include the storage and controlled maintenance of biological samples, medicines, and vaccines, prior to onsite use or external shipment.

Pharmacy refrigerators

Refrigerated biological samples, drugs, and vaccines must typically be stored at a specific temperature, so constant temperature control and cooling are paramount when selecting a pharmacy refrigerator.  

Consider referring to a reputable company like medical-supermarket.com when sourcing a role-specific pharmacy or medical refrigerator.

Laboratory refrigerators

Whilst laboratory refrigerators bear the same requirements as pharmacy refrigerators with regard to precise temperature maintenance, they will typically be designed with the added consideration of housing potentially explosive substances and reagents.

These refrigerators typically possess separate compartments to ensure isolation and prevention of cross-contamination or the inadvertent mixing of volatile materials.

Always use a specialist refrigerator

Regardless of the application – whether it be a medical or a laboratory refrigerator – it probably goes without saying that a professional, task-specific refrigerator should be used.

A domestic refrigerator does not have the capacity for precision temperature control or the prolonged maintenance of a set temperature value.

Basic considerations when choosing a refrigerator

Consider basic factors of size/capacity, intended location, and desired temperature range when selecting a refrigerator.

  • Capacity: Storage capacity is largely dependent on the scale of the user’s operation and activity, as well as the size of intended stored items. Task-specific refrigerators (medical or laboratory) will generally accommodate the typical range of products specific to that industry sector.
  • Desired temperature range: Most professional refrigerators will operate in the range of 2°C and 8°C in accordance with industry standards.
  • Intended unit location: A range of configurations is typically available to permit the location of the refrigerator unit as either a ‘cabinet’ or a ‘chest’ unit. Options typically include free-standing units similar to the common household refrigerator or a counter-top or under counter configuration.

Data logging of temperature

With precise temperature control being of critical importance, look for a refrigerator model which will provide the user with data recording and logging capability.

A good professional unit will typically provide a 24-hour data recording capability, generally with the option of downloading data to a removable SD or similar data card.

Digital temperature readouts and controllers further enhance precise temperature monitoring and control. A good unit will also be equipped with an alarm or warning to alert the user to a dangerous fluctuation in temperature.

Maintenance of the ‘cold chain’

The current coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent vaccine rollout have demonstrated the importance of maintaining the ‘cold chain’ with temperature critical products like vaccines.

From their point of manufacture, through the supply chain and storage to final use, products like vaccines must be maintained within a specific temperature range. Should the vaccine temperature fall outside that recommended range at any point, it may become damaged or unacceptable for use. The selection of a professional model refrigerator will provide both the user and the end client with a high degree of confidence and satisfaction.

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