The Low-Down on Three Great Refrigerated Incubator Options

The Low-Down on Three Great Refrigerated Incubator Options

Leveraging relationships with your manufacturing partners is a great way for a small business to expand their roster of "in-house" experts without bankrolling additional team members. 

One company that stands out is Shel Labs; one of our primary sources for laboratory incubators. 

The Shel Lab team is not only super responsive, but they have a gift for simplifying technical information into bite-size chunks that allow us to communicate clearly with our customers and prospects so everyone can work together to make the best decision. 

A laboratory incubator is a major purchase and needs careful consideration of many factors to get it right. We recently worked with a new lab start up in Washington, DC that had some specific needs for a refrigerated incubator. 

Alex Cranson, one of the Technical Sales Support members at Shel Labs put together this little "refrigerated lab incubator primer" which appears here with his permission. Alex takes us on a little tour of three very popular incubator options and the pros and cons of each. We felt this would be valuable content for anyone shopping for a laboratory incubator. 

SRI20 – This is a traditional compressor-chilled refrigerated incubator. It uses a powerful compressor combined with a very finely-tuned heating element to achieve a stable and uniform refrigerated temperature, optimized for BOD applications. 

The powerful chiller allows this unit to operate as low as 0°C, and it can operate as high as 45°C. It supports a single operating temperature at a time using a digital PID control loop and has interior lighting that is activated when the door is opened to help see your samples. 

These incubators are ideal for maintaining refrigerated temperatures in the teens and 20’s °C, especially in rooms with fluctuating room temperatures since the compressor and heater are suitable to cope with variable environmental conditions. 

It does require periodic defrosting, especially if there are frequent door openings or if installed in a very humid environment.

SRI20P – This is a high-efficiency version of the SRI20 incubator. It uses a single thermoelectric chiller module instead of a combination of a separate chiller and heater that fight against each other. This allows the SRI20P to operate at refrigerated temperatures using much less electricity than a compressor-based model, consuming up to 75% less electricity at BOD temperatures (20°C). 

It also has fewer moving parts, no compressed gasses, and never requires defrosting which keeps long-term operating expenses and maintenance requirements low. The drawback is that the chiller is not as powerful as the SRI20’s, so this unit has a base operating temperature of 15°C and operates best in environmentally-controlled rooms where the air temperature does not regularly rise to the high 20’s C.

SRI20PF – This is a high-efficiency refrigerated incubator meant specifically for insect culture and offers serious benefits over compressor-driven systems. 

It offers programmability such that you can have one temperature during the “day cycle” when the internal LED lighting is active and a different temperature for the “night cycle” when internal lights are off; this affords a very nice representation of 24 hour diurnal cycling to aid in insect breeding and growth. 

The compressor-free design prevents the need for defrosting and eliminates the concern of “rotting coils” since there *are no evaporator coils* and fly excrement has no impact on the mechanical properties of this device. 

The SRI20PF comes with a passive humidity recycling system that users can use to either maintain high levels of humidity or sequester/remove excess humidity depending on environmental/experimental conditions doesn’t rise above 25°C.

Stellar Scientific offers ten different types of refrigerated incubators for your laboratory or research. We're ready to guide you to making the correct choice for your needs and budget