Difference between Lab Refrigerators and Medical Refrigerators

  • Jun 07,2023

Have you ever wondered why hospitals and laboratories have separate refrigerators for storing medical products and biological samples? Do you think that regular refrigerators are enough for those purposes? Regrettably, they are not.. The difference between lab refrigerators and medical refrigerators goes beyond just the price tag.

Medical products and biological samples are fragile and require specific temperatures and conditions to remain viable. Traditional refrigerators are not designed to maintain those conditions, which can cause damage or decay of the samples. This is why medical and laboratory industries invest in specialised refrigerators that meet their unique needs.

Choosing the right refrigerator for your facility's needs is crucial in maintaining the quality and integrity of your specimens. In this article, we will discuss the differences between lab refrigerators and medical refrigerators, so you can make an informed decision about the kind of refrigerator you need.

There are variations in the capabilities and efficiency of refrigerators, highlighting the importance of careful consideration when selecting a unit. In laboratories and medical facilities, it is essential to have reliable and precise refrigeration for storing delicate samples, medications, and other important materials. However, it can be challenging to determine the difference between lab refrigerators and medical refrigerators. In this blog, we will break down the differences between the two and help you determine which is the best option for your facility.
Refrigeration is a crucial component of many laboratory and medical operations, as it allows for the safe storage of countless samples and materials that require specific temperature conditions. These may include medication, vaccines, blood samples, chemical reagents, and other sensitive materials that demand reliable refrigeration. Refrigeration is also important in the prevention of contamination, as well as the maintenance of optimal sample conditions for various research projects.

What Are Lab Refrigerators And Medical Refrigerators?


While both medical and lab refrigerators function to keep delicate materials and samples properly stored and cooled, they are designed with unique features that make them more suitable for particular applications.
Lab refrigerators are designed to store biological samples and research materials under precise temperature conditions.They are specifically designed to maintain temperature stability, temperature uniformity, and to prevent cross-contamination between samples in the event of a power outage. Lab refrigerators are typically used in research and scientific fields where the specific temperature and environment required to store the samples must be tightly controlled.
Medical refrigerators, on the other hand, are most often used to store temperature-sensitive medications such as vaccines and blood products. Medical refrigerators also offer temperature uniformity but are not usually designated for storing other types of material or samples and are not typically used in research settings. They are designed to operate at a more consistent temperature range, with consideration given to specific temperature requirements for stored medication products.


Differences In Temperature Ranges And Usage Requirements

Temperature range is a primary distinguishing factor between lab refrigerators and medical refrigerators. Lab refrigerators frequently store samples or materials that require strict and often low temperature settings, with temperatures from -20°C to -85°C. Medical refrigerators typically maintain a higher temperature range and are designed to keep medication at much more consistent temperatures of 2°C to 8°C.

Because of different usage requirements, lab refrigerators have more customizable temperature ranges and can have more temperature fluctuations. Medical refrigerators are set to and strictly kept to a designated temperature range, usually between 2-8 degrees Celsius.

Storage Capacity And Shelving Differences

Due to the need for more precise temperature control and frequent opening and closing with researcher use lab refrigerators are much smaller in comparison to medical refrigerators. Lab refrigerators also have interior shelving, which can be adjusted and customised depending on the type and size of samples or materials. Medical refrigerators have more capacity and have larger storage space designed to store medicine in bulk, so they typically have fewer shelving options.

Features And Accessories Unique To Each Type Of Refrigerator

In addition to size differences and temperature range, lab refrigerators and medical refrigerators have several features unique to each type. For example, lab refrigerators are equipped with alarms to notify researchers of temperature fluctuations or power outages which can be detrimental to sample use and validity. Lab refrigerators may also feature explosion-proof or spark-proof designs to protect flammable and volatile materials from sparks and ignition.
Medical refrigerators, on the other hand, often have a lockable door to keep medication secure and temperate stable with more simple mechanisms for temperature control.

Importance Of Choosing The Right Type Of Refrigerator For Your Facility And Specific Needs

When purchasing a refrigerator for laboratories or medical facilities, it is important to keep in mind the specific needs of your work environment. Purchasing the wrong type of refrigerator can affect the viability of important material and samples, and can even put patients at risk.
For laboratories, carefully considering the precise temperature control requirement, often with the help of a refrigeration specialist, can ensure that all use cases are covered. A temperature range fluctuation as small as 2 or 3 degrees can halt a lab's research, while catering to closely specific temperature needs allows the research to continue and produce accurate results. The importance of refrigeration within the lab setting should not be underestimated.
When choosing a refrigerator for a medical facility, it is important to consider not just temperature consistency, but the storage capacity and potential for customization. More and more regulatory or accrediting agencies require regular maintenance records. Requirements may be in the form of documentation pertaining to maintenance history, temperature checks, and data logging that must be shared with inspectors, regulators or auditors. Accurate record keeping is paramount and when putting in place review processes and protocols.

Conclusion And Final Thoughts On Lab VS Medical Refrigerators

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between a lab refrigerator and a medical refrigerator, it is important to consider your specific needs. While both types of refrigerators have their own unique features and benefits, ultimately, selecting the right one depends on your intended usage and budget. It is important to consider factors such as temperature regulation, size, durability, and energy efficiency. Keeping your samples and medications at the right temperature is critical to ensure accuracy and efficacy, so investing in the right refrigerator is a crucial decision for any lab or medical facility. By carefully assessing your needs and following the important considerations outlined in this blog, you can make an informed decision that will enable you to achieve your goals more efficiently and effectively.



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