While older cold storage appliances and compressors are at greater risk of issues and failures than newer ones, it’s natural for both to experience energy efficiency loss over time. Aside from the impact this efficiency loss has on energy consumption and utility costs in laboratories, it can also result in a wider variety of temperatures within different areas of a cold storage cavity. So, depending on where specimens are stored inside a freezer or refrigerator, temperatures can vary more widely, perhaps extending above or below the recommended range.
Even though efficiency loss is inevitable to some degree, labs can do a lot to preserve energy efficiency in their cold storage appliances. While these proactive measures help extend the life span of freezers and refrigerators, their optimized performance helps keep samples safe.
1. Follow Regular System Maintenance Guidelines
Within a user manual for a cold storage appliance, you’ll find recommended maintenance tasks to preserve the integrity of your system. These to-dos can stretch from cleaning dust out of your filters to defrosting the system on a regular basis. Considering that dust build-up can hinder a condenser’s ability to transfer heat and frost build-up can insulate freezer walls, both of these tasks (among others) help your cold storage appliance work smarter, not harder than needed.
2. Embark on a “Temperature Mapping” Exercise
On an annual basis or every other year, many labs conduct a “temperature mapping” exercise for each cold storage appliance. Ideally performed when the appliance is empty and then filled with lab samples, the purpose of this exercise is to measure temperatures within different areas of the storage cavity. While the results can help guide labs on where to store samples (based on their ability to remain stable at specific temperatures), the data collected can also pinpoint signs of current or potential energy efficiency loss within the system, and prompt preventative action.
3. Analyze Changes in Temperature Patterns
Another tool that helps labs anticipate and prevent mechanical problems, as well as compressor failure, is analyzing a line chart of cold storage appliance temperature patterns over time. In the case of a freezer or refrigerator working properly, the chart will resemble a “sawtooth pattern” — one which is reflective of the on/off cycle of the compressor based on the system’s temperature. Variations in this pattern tend to indicate that the compressor is working harder than it needs to, and thus there’s room to improve the energy efficiency of the cold storage appliance.
Use CORIS Temperature Data to Your Advantage
At CORIS, we’ve developed a 24/hour remote monitoring system that sends temperature readings to the cloud every two minutes. Through this cloud-based interface, lab personnel can easily access temperature data across various timeframes and generate automated reports as needed to assess the energy efficiency of cold storage appliances and compressors. While these insights help labs get in front of potential problems, customizable alerts make personnel aware of freezer and refrigerator issues in real-time, whether they’re inside or outside of the lab.
While these last layers of defense help keep your lab samples safe, there’s more that can be done to protect your assets upfront. To learn more, download a free copy of your ebook, Maximize Your Lab Freezer Life, Minimize Odds of Disaster.