The value of medical-grade refrigeration equipment in clinical settings is well documented with vital applicability in the laboratory, blood bank, and other practice locations. Devices engineered specifically for storing and maintaining blood products, reagents, and patient samples can have a strongly positive impact on operations by ensuring the conditions necessary for viability remain intact at all times.
As these devices have grown in sophistication, incorporating data producing software and multifaceted control systems, the value of purpose-built refrigerators and freezers to the laboratory, blood bank, and perhaps newly augmented vaccination and convalescent plasma programs, is substantial. Given the numerous challenges to the efficient and expeditious provision of lifesaving refrigerated products (markedly, blood products) in the hospital setting, worrying about the integrity of those products should not be one of them.
Noting the dollar value of reagents and the inherent value of patient samples and blood products, the placement of laboratory refrigerators and freezers, as well as the placement of their contents, should not be an afterthought. Rather, the location of these essential devices should be carefully integrated into the laboratory design, not only to ensure ease of access and good workflow, but also to extend equipment life. Also consider areas outside the laboratory or blood bank, such as the ED, where strategic placement of refrigeration could reap significant time, product, and financial savings.
The following guide lists several refrigerator and freezer options to enable the best combination for a specific laboratory and health care operation, and to provide the peace of mind enabled by medical-grade refrigeration devices.
High-Performance Laboratory Refrigerators and Freezers from Follett
High-Performance laboratory refrigerators and freezers from Follett are engineered to provide safeguards for storing patient samples, reagents, laboratory media, and other critical products. Featuring an advanced air flow design, the plenum air distribution system delivers cold air at six different levels for precise temperature control and top-to-bottom temperature uniformity, allowing full utilization of the storage space. Quick recovery after door openings eliminates the risk of temperature fluctuations, protecting product integrity. An intuitive, icon-driven user interface allows enhanced data management from data collection to alarms and an optional electronic locking system. Full stainless-steel construction provides exceptional durability and easy cleaning. The top-mounted modular refrigeration system increases storage space and simplifies maintenance by allowing critical components to be serviced without disrupting the contents or internal temperature of the refrigerator.
Blizzard Ultralow Freezer from NuAire
NuAire’s Blizzard NU-99729VFT -86°C Ultralow Freezer offers a 729-liter (25.75 square-foot) capacity. Featuring an intuitive touchscreen control center, it catalogs inventory, allows user account creation, graphs freezer performance, and produces visual and audible alarms. The electrical configuration can operate on a range of 100 to 230 VAC/50 to 60 Hz at 15 and 20 amps. Energy Star certified, it runs quietly on high performance or energy saving mode. A 5-year parts and labor warranty is included in the United States and Canada.
HCL by So-Low Upright Ultra-Low Freezer from Health Care Logistics
The HCL by So-Low Upright Ultra-Low Freezer from Health Care Logistics operates at a range of -40° to -85°C (-40° to -121°F). Its energy-saving low stage operates only on demand, extending its compressor life. The freezers provide a quick cooling process to operating temperature due to cascade refrigeration. The latch allows the unit to be secured with a padlock (not included) and storage is maximized with four adjustable shelves and five storage compartments.
The freezer offers adjustable digital temperature control with two displays—one shows the set temperature, the other shows the actual temperature. The battery-operated alarm system has audible and visual signals. Including a one-year warranty for parts and labor, its exterior dimensions are 36”W x 79½”H x 33½”D.
GX Solutions with OptiCool Technology from Helmer
Ensuring equipment meets performance requirements for samples, blood, and vaccines is critical to ensure efficacy, safety, and compliance. Energy efficiency and sustainability should also be valued. Helmer Scientific’s GX Solutions are professional, medical-grade refrigerators and freezers designed to provide optimal temperature uniformity, recovery, and stability. Uniformity is ensured with all points in the cabinet maintaining consistent temperatures. With rapid temperature recovery, the cabinet quickly returns to a set point after door openings, and stability is seen as temperatures remain consistent over time. The GX Solutions series helps reduce a facility’s carbon footprint and supports sustainability with OptiCool Technology, a cooling system that pairs variable capacity compressors (VCCs) with natural hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants. This combination enables noise reduction and increased energy efficiency, and supports global environment sustainability initiatives by eliminating the use of refrigerants with high global warming potential.
Accucold’s Pharma-Lab Performance Series
The Pharma-Lab Performance Series from Accucold comprises purpose-built refrigerators and freezers designed to meet the demanding needs of medical applications. Available in 23 or 49 cubic-foot sizes, the units feature complete stainless steel construction inside and out for durability in high-traffic areas. All models are equipped with a microprocessor digital temperature controller with external digital display, locking casters for mobility, and audible and visual alarms for temperature excursions, prolonged door openings, condenser cleaning reminders, and power failure. Glass and solid door refrigerators operate between 2°C and 10°C, and solid door frost-free freezers operate between -30°C and -15°C. Single door units can be ordered with a right- or left-hand door swing. The compressor utilizes environmentally friendly hydrocarbons for a greener performance.
TSU-4RW-N6 Refrigerator from PHC
With a compact footprint, the TSU-4RW-N6 Refrigerator from PHC is designed to be incorporated into ADA compliant workspaces and fits under most tables, cabinets, and lab benches. As an Energy Star certified refrigerator, it provides a precision-controlled temperature environment ideal for storage of samples, reagents, test kits, vaccines, and other biologics. Able to meet current and emerging strict storage guidelines from the CDC, NSF, and ANSI, this undercounter model keeps stored product within the CDC recommended 2°C to 8°C and a uniformity of +/-3°C.
As a high-performance undercounter refrigerator, it is built with a clinical grade refrigeration system and has a glass door that provides visibility and helps avoid unnecessary door openings. Units can be stacked with an adapter to maximize floor space and each unit includes an automatic defrost function. In lieu of traditional HFC refrigerants, it utilizes environmentally friendly HC refrigerants in order to meet Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) guidelines.
NuAire’s Blizzard NU-99100 -86°C Ultralow Freezer provides a 100-liter (3.5 square-foot) capacity for reliable storage of samples, vaccine vials, and more, while occupying a small space. Able to maintain temperature uniformity of +/-5°C at -80°C, the unit features a simplified LED display screen, a quadruple gasketed outer door, two interior steel mini-doors, and produces visual and audible alarms. The compressor motor utilizes nontoxic hydrocarbon refrigerants and operates at a quiet 47 dB(A) while maximizing energy efficiency. The unit comes with a 3-year parts and labor warranty in the United States and Canada.
Premier Freestanding Countertop Freezers feature a microprocessor temperature controller and display, allowing for precise temperature control, verification, and recovery. Samples and supplies are protected with a series of audible and visual alarms. These models include a temperature monitoring device that complies with current CDC guidelines and includes a 3-year certificate of calibration. The unit’s proprietary Controlled Auto Defrost technology provides the convenience of an auto-defrost design while ensuring that products remain at consistent and stable temperatures below 5°F (-15°C).
The units are UL listed and include a 2-year parts and labor warranty plus an additional 3-year compressor parts warranty. They utilize environmentally friendly, natural hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants (not containing hydrofluorocarbons), helping to reduce global-warming potential (GWP) while meeting new EPA/SNAP mandates and UL and ASHRAE compliance guidelines.
Cardinal Health’s Premier Plus Series Refrigerators combine advanced temperature control with high-quality cabinet construction and alarm systems to help keep samples, reagents, and vaccines protected. Made specifically for the laboratory setting, the positive, forced-air circulation within the units is designed to maintain temperature uniformity. Refrigerators in the Premier Plus series are available in a variety of sizes with glass or solid doors and are Energy Star certified and SNAP compliant.
HCL by So-Low Vaccine Refrigerator from Health Care Logistics
The HCL by So-Low Vaccine Refrigerator from Health Care Logistics is CDC compliant and functions with a temperature range of 2°C to 8°C (36° to 46°F; the user can switch display from degrees Celsius to Fahrenheit with the push of a button). The refrigerator’s coated steel finish with single locking glass door also features five adjustable wire shelves. For security, each unit features a lock and includes two keys. Additionally, each unit features a probe access port for data loggers, a digital temperature display, a high/low alarm, minimum/maximum memory, and a power failure relay. Its exterior dimensions are 19”W x 74½”H x 21”D, and it comes with a warranty of 3 years parts and labor, plus 2 additional years on compressor parts only.
Cardinal Health Pro Series Refrigerators are designed for daily use in clinical laboratories, offering the performance, security, and quality required for everyday laboratory applications. Along with being Energy Star certified and SNAP compliant, they are available in a variety of sizes and come with LED interior lighting, keyed door locks, remote alarm contacts, and a digital controller.
Upright StableTemp from Cole-Parmer
Cole-Parmer’s StableTemp 20.4 cubic foot upright ULT freezers are designed to meet cold storage needs to -86°C. The cabinet uses high-performance insulation panels that improve temperature stability, and separate inner storage chambers have their own insulated doors. These provide independent access to storage space, minimizing frost buildup inside the chambers and ensuring protection of stored samples. The outer door seal’s unique design allows for minimal loss of temperature while the door is open and a robust latch keeps the door securely closed.
A microprocessor controller is simple to use with push-button control and has an operation status display that is easy to read. Large LEDs show the internal temperature, set temperature, ambient temperature, and input voltage for a quick view of operation parameters. The controller allows the user to set a password, delay starting, and set a high and low temperature alarm. Audible and visual alarms notify high and low temperatures, power failures, sensor errors, and alerts such as clean-filter, door ajar, hot condenser, and high ambient temperature.
Caron’s Refrigerated Incubators
Refrigerated Incubators from Caron are designed for high performance with heavy loads. Uniform ducted airflow and high-capacity refrigeration and heating ensure temperature uniformity for a full chamber or empty unit. The units’ all stainless-steel interiors are durable, and with tool-free component removal, maintenance needs are mitigated. The units offer low energy usage and on-demand refrigeration with a temperature range of 5°C to 70°C (0°C optional), and are available in a variety of sizes.
The Cole-Parmer StableTemp 3.5 cubic foot chest ultra-low freezers are designed to fit in areas where space is limited, and to meet cold storage needs as low as -86°C. High-performance insulation panels in the cabinet minimize heat gain, improving temperature stability. Separate inner storage chambers have their own insulated doors which offer independent access to storage space, minimizing frost buildup inside the chambers and providing maximum protection of stored samples. The outer door seal’s unique design reduces temperature loss while the door is open, and a robust door latch keeps the door securely closed.
The microprocessor controller is simple to use with push-button control and has an easy-to-read operational status display. Large LEDs show internal temperature, set temperature, ambient temperature, and input voltage for quick viewing of operation parameters. Other features include a sample port for external temperature probing, a heated pressure equalization port for easy door opening, and casters for portability.
Accucold’s Pharma-Vac Performance Series
The Pharma-Vac Performance Series from Accucold comprises purpose-built refrigerators designed to meet the demanding needs of health care applications and to support meeting CDC/VFC vaccine storage guidelines. Sized from 1 to 15 cubic feet, with several options available for recessed installation under lower ADA compliant counters, all models feature a microprocessor digital temperature controller with external digital display, a buffered probe in a glycol-filled bottle, remote contacts, antimicrobial handles, and audible/visual alarms for temperature excursions, prolonged door openings, and power failure. Additional options include keyless access locks, digital data loggers, interior lockers, and full-extension ventilated drawers. The units are designed to provide +/-1°C variation with an interior range of 2°C to 8°C, and the compressor uses environmentally friendly hydrocarbons for a greener performance.
American Biotech Supply Premier Undercounter Refrigerator from Horizon Scientific
The Premier Built-In Undercounter Refrigerators from Horizon Scientific feature a microprocessor temperature controller and display, allowing for precise temperature control, verification, and recovery. Critical samples and supplies are protected via a suite of audible and visual alarms. Units include a temperature monitoring device that complies with current CDC guidelines and includes a 3-year certificate of calibration.
The Built-In models are designed with a “front breathing” ventilation system, eliminating the need for clearance around the top and sides of the unit; this enables the user to incorporate these units into cabinets and other areas where free space is limited. This model is both ADA compliant and Energy Star certified, and all Premier undercounter refrigerators are UL listed and include a 2-year parts and labor warranty and a 3-year compressor parts warranty. The units utilize environmentally friendly, natural hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants (not containing hydrofluorocarbons), reducing global-warming potential (GWP) while meeting new EPA/SNAP mandates and UL and ASHRAE compliance guidelines.