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DIY Installation of Lab Freezer and Refrigerator Temperature Sensors

Many companies that sell lab freezer and refrigerator temperature sensors require their service personnel to come on-site to install their devices. While these added labor costs create concerns for research labs that often operate under tight budgets, current limited or restricted lab access to external vendors amid COVID-19 has made the vendor installation route even less feasible.

The good news is that DIY installation of lab freezer and refrigerator temperature sensors is possible — with the right technology, that is. This comes in the form of battery-powered sensors that don’t require wired probes and can be placed entirely inside lab freezers and refrigerators.

Self-Contained Sensors Offer Ease of Installation

Most laboratory temperature sensors have a temperature probe that is placed inside the freezer or refrigerator and is wired to the module that transmits temperature readings to the local server or to the cloud. While this module can be line-powered or battery-powered, its mounted position remains the same: on the outside of a freezer or refrigerator. Typically, the installer will mount the transmitter on the exterior of the appliance, run the wire with the probe into the freezer compartment and close the door on the wire. 

In the case of self-contained sensors, the sensor probe, batteries and wireless transmitters are all included in one unit — with no external probe on a wire. This level of integration has a direct impact on the installation process, and it works in favor of the DIY route.

The flexible nature of self-contained sensors lends itself to a simple self-installation process. Lab personnel can simply place these sensors on a shelf inside a refrigerator or freezer, usually near the inside back wall. With a wireless connection in place, data collected by the lab freezer temperature sensors will be transmitted from the inside of the freezer to the network gateway to the intended server.

These self-contained sensors require a wireless frequency that can easily transmit from inside the freezers and refrigerators, and LoRa is ideal as it uses the 915 MHz frequency. Sensors using WiFi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, Zwave and other 2.4GHz frequency usually have difficulty transmitting to a gateway outside the freezer.

Note: ULT-80 freezers and LN2 tanks operate at temperatures too cold for self-contained battery-powered sensors to work. As such, these devices need wired probes to be installed in the cold interior with electronics that support the probe and transmit readings located outside the freezer or tank. Some of these sensor modules are battery-powered and can be placed on top of the freezer or mounted on the back or side of the freezer or tank. Just make sure these sensors will alert you when the batteries are getting low and need to be replaced.

How the Gateway Set Up & Install Factors Into the Equation

If we’re looking at the complete picture of installing battery-powered sensors, the conversation needs to include the setup and installation of the gateway that allows the sensors to talk to the servers. After all, this affects the time it takes to get up and running and what’s expected of personnel.

In the case where a gateway requires a static (or permanent) IP address, IT staff will need to configure the Ethernet port for the static IP address assigned to the gateway, for the gateway’s MAC address and for the protocol ports that need to be open for the gateway to communicate. The firewall will also need to be configured to allow remote access to that gateway.

Alternatively, a gateway that uses DHCP to automatically obtain a local IP address and only transmits temperature readings out of the facility eliminates the need for IT staff to configure the port and also the firewall. This is made possible by the fact that no outside device sends communications to the gateway to obtain current temperature readings.

CORIS Simplifies Sensor Installation — From Start to Finish

The CORIS lab temperature monitoring system is built with end-users in mind at every step, including the installation process. Our system combines self-contained battery-operated sensors that deliver real-time temperature monitoring with patented network security enabling a LoRa wireless gateway to be deployed without having to create a hole in the firewall for port access. Together, these factors empower about 80% of our customers to install our remote temperature monitoring systems with only CORIS assistance over the phone — no on-site visit needed.

Interested to see what our wireless monitoring system can do for your lab? Take advantage of our free trial while it lasts.

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