It is hard to choose the right ultra-low temperature freezer (ULT). There is a wide array of choices of ULT freezers available in the market. Different models have specific features in their capacity and performance.
In essence, choosing the right ULT freezer is dependent on its intended use. The general attribute to acquiring a freezer is storage. Particular storage requirements are reliant on specific temperature ranges. This is true for pharmaceuticals and biospecimens. Such temperature range is a deciding factor in the choice of a ULT freezer.
In a laboratory storage needs of specimens and samples determine the ULT requirements. Samples and specimens should be handled in utmost standards. This is the reason why ULT freezers are essential to any operational laboratory process.
There are many criteria to consider in choosing the right ULT freezer for you. These are some of the most common factors that one should note before getting a ULT freezer.
When it comes to storage, we should maximize an equipment’s capacity. Choosing your ULT freezers’ capacity should also be proportional to the quantity of your storage supply. While it is best to earmark some extra capacity, going beyond your desired need may be detrimental for you in the long run. Exceeding your storage requirements by too much is less efficient and your operating costs will also increase.
In essence, you would want to provide adequate space for every possible sample bound for storing. With that in mind, making sure that the size is enough for the storage volume is of primary consideration.
In technical terms, efficiency is defined as the peak performance level with the lowest amount of input. In ULTs, the difference in energy consumption can be attributed to its type of refrigerant and compressor efficiency. This is a telltale factor for daily energy consumption.
Samples and specimens are valuable materials in the laboratory. Observing proper storing conditions is essential. It ensures that samples are of a prime quality, yielding more reliable research results. A poor temperature uniformity can compromise the research integrity. It is preferred to look for a ULT freezer that has uniform temperature integration. One of the risk factors in freezers is the number of door openings. Whenever you open a freezer door, the recovery time to get back a particular temperature (example: -80° C) should be instantaneous. It is advisable to get a ULT freezer with specialized compartments. It will provide efficient cases specific to priority samples. It can also store samples easier in a category according to temperature requirements.
The advent of new freezer technology has paved the way for more user-friendly ULT freezers. User interface (UI) is an essential innovation in the development of newer ULT. Features such as remote monitoring systems aid in ensuring lesser human error. There are also alarm notifications to provide heads on malfunctions and risk factors such as natural events.
Manufacturers are now gearing towards developing freezers with more ergonomic benefits. An easy-open door, height, and depth features are specific ergonomic attributes that provide ease of use. Such features intend to eliminate physical stress, especially in a simple operational set-up where actions are repetitive and monotonous.
Part of the consideration in investing in a ULT is the maintenance it needs to run in peak condition. While it is a commitment to regularly clean and defrosts, such activities can be painstaking. Frost build-up cannot be avoided. That is the nature of the low-temperature setting. There are ULT freezers with features that can minimize frosting. Better insulation and heater systems can do the trick.
These factors are essential in evaluating your options to invest in a ULT freezer. Administering ULT freezers has certain qualities that should not be undermined. Other than the service life, factors beyond the workspace are also essential to consider. You are just maximizing the most out of your freezer investment. These are the added considerations to search for better ULT freezer functionality:
Refrigerants and freezers are suspects in the climate change discussion. The use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants can increase global warming. The cold chain sector has responded to this call. They came up with new innovations. Such development has a minimal environmental impact as a result. Most ULT freezers are transitioning to natural hydrocarbon instead of HFC refrigerants. But even that has certain limitations as natural hydrocarbon is deemed flammable. As such, more developments enable the use of more sustainable refrigerants.
The increase in carbon footprint is taken into consideration by most freezer manufacturers. This kind of problem has paved the way for better design breakthroughs. Certain freezer has incorporated designs that allow for lesser movement. Decreased traffic and better workflow can also be supplemental to ease out footprints.
Because of the fan-cooling system a freezer needs, it is also a primary source of noise in the workplace. Often, most of the cold storage is situated on the far end of the laboratory or, worse, outside the workspace. If you are a researcher doing laboratory processes that need precision and delicate turn arounds, the noise is a distraction. It is not only annoying but somewhat decreases your work fortitude. In the end, you become unproductive.
Currently, there are ULT freezers built with lower noise output. The minimized noise has enabled researchers to design their workspaces in a streamlined manner. It resulted to less traffic too and from the freezer. Furthermore, the heat generated from the freezers can pose productivity limitations as well. There are now models with more inferior heat outputs that provide a better energy-saving condition also.
There is no “one size fits all” solution for ULT freezers in terms of storage requirements. Specific customizations can be done to maximize the inherent features of every ULT freezer. Apart from the design itself, there are additional freezer features that can cater to specific needs. New freezer designs can now be connected to the wi-fi enabling remote use and monitoring of it.
There are also back-up cooling systems. When power is disrupted, your samples’ integrity may not be affected because the temperature is still within a constant range. This has been made possible by innovation in cooling systems. This may incur an additional cost from your end, but the value it projects in ensuring proper storage conditions may be worth it.
All ULT freezers need additional features to get the most benefit from them. A good and reliable power supply is necessary for it to run. Data ports are also included for further data necessity that will ease out the documentation process for users.
Monitoring systems are essential for inventory checks. Remote monitoring devices negates deviations and error in your research process. Audio and visual alarm notifications can provide alerts for relevant stakeholders. Ultra-cold temperature sensors can track a wide range of temperatures. It is always crucial to get the precise temperature reading. Such precision is a need in the supply chain and logistical distribution.
These additional solutions provide a comprehensive solution to all your storage monitoring needs. The cold chain sector is also undergoing a digital transformation. This includes the integration of data centers with the ULT freezer. These developments are ways to expand the operations and service features of the freezer in itself.
Again, there are a variety of ULT freezers available in the market. Beyond the inherent features, considerations on security and sustainability are a must. There is no point in maximizing the features of a freezer when safety is compromised. It is important to note that certain benefits will be negated in the process despite the feature innovations. For example, to provide optimum energy efficiency, temperature control was put at risk. Consequently, your sample quality will be deterred.
There is no denying that a ULT freezer is a worthy investment. The cost may be an excellent credit to the span of storage benefits it can provide. But it is always a best practice to cover all bases and check all relative consideration before purchase.