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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a consumer refrigerator in a non-critical area?

If you are just storing agar, brine and sugar solutions, and bio-chemicals that are not bothered by wide swings in temperature, using a consumer refrigerator may be acceptable. Temperatures can vary by as much as 10° from set point and the set point itself is hardly precise.

Substances that are highly reactive, caustic, flammable, or otherwise reactive should never be stored in consumer refrigerators. Just having such a refrigerator in the lab opens the door to the possibility of the wrong substance ending up in the wrong refrigerator.

Are compliance requirements changing?

If you are replacing and existing refrigerator or freezer, it is a very good idea to research the rules and regulations that apply to your storage application. Regulations may have changed.

What are the advantages of laboratory refrigerators?

Laboratory refrigerators have features that provide tighter temperature control that provide safer storage for samples and specimens.  These units are also equipped with sturdier shelves with multiple height settings than you will find in consumer models. Additionally, they are also designed for 24/7 access that would produce a duty-cycle in excess of that of a consumer unit. The most basic laboratory cold storage unit can be enhanced with options such as alarms, locks, casters, extra shelves, LED displays, and temperature recorders.

Laboratory refrigerators and freezers are designed to work hard and have the warranty to back it up. Though a 1-year limited warranty is typical of many consumer models, eLab provides a 3-year warranty on the most expensive component (the compressor) and a 2-year warranty on all other components.

Can I get an electrical outlet installed in a refrigerator so that I can use it for chromatography?

Absolutely. You may add outlets and ports to many of our standard models, but you can also look in our Chromatography section and find 7 different models, all specifically designed for chromatography –no options or modification needed.

How soon can I get my cold storage unit?

eLab tests all units prior to shipping.  If you have ordered options, those options must be fitted and the units tested with options in place. Standard units will ship within a week and modified units within two weeks. If the timing of your delivery is crucial, please let us know and we will do our best to meet your requirements.

I have a small amount of solvent to store. Do I need a special classification?

Yes.  Any amount of solvent or flammable material of any kind will require the use of a Flammable Proof refrigerator. These UL-approved, specially built refrigerators and freezers are typically quite large, but eLab has a compact model of only 14 cubic feet.

We are adding a solvent dispensing room, can I use a flammable proof refrigerator in this room?

Probably not. If the atmosphere has the potential to contain flammable vapors, you will need a Hazardous Location refrigerator. These refrigerators, along with all the electrical equipment, wiring, lighting, etc., will all have to be completely sealed.

Do I need a manual defrost unit or not?

eLab refrigerators come with manual and auto-defrost systems. You will see that our product section pages are arranged by these categories.

In order for the evaporators to bring the unit down to the typical temperatures (2-8 degrees C), the actual evaporator temperatures will cycle below freezing. The air surrounding the evaporator is then circulated throughout the chamber to provide the average required temperatures. The air is typically circulated by one of two methods “Convection” or “Forced Draft”. The circulation on a convection system (manual defrost) is simply achieved by cold air dropping and warm air rising. Forced draft (automatic defrost) is achieved by using interior fans to circulate the air. However, the benefits these forced draft units offer for temperature recovery and uniformity are well worth paying for if the user plans on storing temperature sensitive or high value products like vaccines.  A forced draft model is highly recommended for areas where frequent door openings occur.

What is cycle defrost?

Cycle defrost occurs during the off cycle of the compressor when accumulated ice melts on the evaporator coils. Cycle defrost can be a very effective defrosting method for refrigerators and it does not raise interior cabinet temperatures above the typical cycle temps that occur during compressor cycles. 

What are the dangers of auto defrost?

Auto defrost systems use a timed heating cycle to defrost the evaporator 2-3 times every 24 hours. The heater  speeds up the frost and ice removal, but it raises the temperatures. Although the products stored in the freezer will remain frozen, these air temperature spikes can be harmful to some medical and laboratory products. These temperature spikes can cause damage to enzymes and vaccines, which is why manual defrost freezers are so commonly requested for laboratory applications.

There are many designs for auto defrost units and the cycle duration. How warm the interior air temperatures get will vary in different designs. Some cycles will rise above 0°C. All too often a user will purchase an auto defrost lab freezer believing it will always be at or below -20°C. This will not be the case. In addition, if the unit is equipped with a high temp alarm or the customer adds one later, the temperature readings may lead the customer to believe the unit is malfunctioning.

What are the advantages manual defrost systems?

The key advantage is the absence of warm temperature spikes that are present with Auto-Defrost units. These temperature spikes can damage some medical and scientific products, especially enzymes.

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