To maintain the integrity of your temperature-sensitive materials, it is important to choose the right-size unit. You will find small undercounter and countertop units, horizontal chest models, and full-size reach-ins with multiple sections. It is critical that you never overload your box. Doing so will prevent the unit from maintaining the desired temperatures, which might compromise the products you're storing and could even cause the unit to break down. Manufacturers recommend that you always keep your unit filled to at least 30-50 percent capacity. This will keep the equipment operating efficiently and will prevent dramatic temperature fluctuations.
What Makes a Medical Refrigerator Unique?
A medical refrigerator includes features that foodservice refrigerators do not have.
For the tightest temperature tolerances, many of these units include microprocessor controls. These employ the use of digital electronics to control the refrigeration system and ensure temperatures stay as close to the set point as possible. Many of these will also include interfaces for connecting computers and diagnostic equipment.
As warm air rises, the air in a refrigerated box tends to be a few degrees warmer near the top. While regular refrigeration equipment includes circulating fans, most medical refrigerator manufacturers take an extra step to include an internal fan that keeps internal temperatures as even as possible.
Because ambient temperatures can fluctuate rapidly, the best way to get an accurate temperature reading is to test a liquid similar in viscosity to that being preserved. Glycol bottles are used for this purpose, and they are included in many units to hold the temperature probe.
Digital thermostats allow operators to get the most reliable and consistent reading, so they come standard on most models. Traceable thermostats will display three readings: The current temperature, as well as the highest and lowest temperatures detected since the last time the operator reset the feature.
For chromatography operations, laboratory refrigerators with access ports and internal electrical receptacles are available that make it possible to operate chromatography equipment inside the cabinet. These hold 2- to 4-degree C temperatures for optimal storage conditions.
For storing blood by the pint, blood bank models are available with stainless steel drawers. They come standard with data recorder charts that constantly track temperatures. These also hold temperatures of 2 to 4 degrees Celsius.
- Locking doors will keep sensitive materials secure.
- Mobile units make it easy to transport materials throughout your facility.
- While you can purchase a manual defrost unit, self defrosting systems are required by law in some jurisdictions. These will automatically enter a cycle to remove ice buildup that naturally forms on the refrigeration system as it operates.
- Dual-temp models include both a freezer and a refrigerator section built into the same box. Choose one of these if you are space-limited but need both systems
- When it is important to monitor and record temperature over time, record-keeping models are available. Some of these have USB ports that can be used to retrieve the data.
- Access ports allow power cords from equipment and probe leads to be inserted into the box without breaking the seal at the door. This is important for a medical refrigerator that holds a centrifuge or a laboratory refrigerator with precise monitoring equipment inside.
- LED lighting offers better visibility and energy efficiency over traditional incandescent and fluorescent lights. They also last longer.
- Pass-thru models have two doors on opposite sides of the unit that allow materials to be inserted in one side and retrieved through the other.
- Audible alarms will alert operators when temperatures fall above or below a set point.