How to Select a Laboratory Autoclave
No two laboratory facilities are the same, but all too often lab buyers are urged to invest in expensive medical-grade lab sterilizers that are great at doing things they almost never need, and terrible at doing what needs to be done every day.
Four Questions for Lab Autoclave Buyers
There are four essential questions a lab autoclave buyer needs to ask while doing his or her preliminary research.
1) What can my facility support?
First and foremost, how large of a lab autoclave can you fit in your facility? While many smaller units–such as our benchtop autoclave or the Compact 60 top loading sterilizer–can be easily rolled into place, larger units will require a loading dock, freight elevator, and wide doors.
Facilities with the foresight to provide purified water for their lab autoclaves can expect lower initial costs, substantially reduced long-term maintenance costs, sharply decreased planned and unexpected downtimes, and an overall more efficient operation.
2) What size autoclave do I need?
Most lab autoclaves spend their working lives sterilizing glassware, instruments, and small dishes of growth medium–which can be done just as easily in a little benchtop model as with a huge industrial front-loader. The real question, then, is how large is each load you need to process? Priorclave benchtop lab autoclaves offer all the performance and flexibility of their larger front-loading brethren in a package that can easily fit in any lab. Of course, a small autoclave can only handle small loads. Priorclave’s standard front-loading models range from as small as 40 liters to as large as 360. For many settings, Priorclave’s free-standing top loading lab autoclaves are the best fit: they are among the most efficient units, with a small footprint that conserves valuable lab space.
3) Top-loading or front-loading?
Many sizes of lab sterilizers are available as either top- or front-loading; which suits you best? Top loaders conserve space, but can be cumbersome if you process heavy loads. Front loaders can’t process as large a load at comparable volume, but pose less of a risk of strain or repetitive injury to technicians who handle many loads each day.
4) What are my cycle needs?
Different loads call for different cycles in order to assure sterilization or destruction. What roles will your lab autoclave need to fulfill? If you primarily process growth media, then you’ll want a rapid cooling system to prevent the media from becoming “overcooked.” Those processing glassware, instruments, or porous loads benefit from vacuum and pulsed freesteaming cycles, which assure good steam penetration and dry finished loads. An autoclave primarily used for discard loads and laboratory waste greatly benefits from an exhaust filtration system and thermal probes for quality assurance. And if you plan to use your lab sterilizer for many tasks, expanded memory modules make it easy to design custom cycles for each task and run them with “one-touch” convenience.
Features of Every Priorclave Lab Sterilizer
Our large selection of optional features makes it easy to begin with a base model and tweak it to best suit your facility. That said, every Priroclave lab autoclave offers the same core safety, flexibility, and power features. Each unit is equipped with cooling fans and thermally insulated panels, to both reduce cycle-times and make it easier to place the units directly adjacent to work areas and other equipment. Our industry-favored TACTROL microprocessor Control System combines flexible programming, convenience, and safety. Permission-based Door Release prevents inexperienced users from opening the unit mid-cycle, and Quickseal II Single-action Doors provide easy access, with additional redundant measures of security. All this combines to make Priorclave lab autoclaves a perfect choice for training and educational facilities.
Please feel free to download a copy of our How to Select a Laboratory Autoclave – it is our unbiased review of all the options and configurations available on the market today, and considerations for the selection of each.