When scientists need to heat or cool liquid samples and keep them at a specific temperature, they use water baths and chillers. If you’re looking to purchase a water bath or chiller, it’s important to consider the space available in your lab, and the capacity and temperature range you need. You should also consider whether you need a unit with extra features like a circulating, ultrasonic, or shaking water bath. For a list of bath and chiller manufacturers, see our online directory: LabManager.com/bath-chiller-manufacturers
7 Questions to Ask When Buying a Bath or Chiller:
- What capacity do you need and how much space do you have in your lab?
- What temperature ranges do you need?
- How long does it take for the unit to cool down or heat up to the temperature you need? What is the cost-to-benefit ratio of the needed equipment?
- How consistent and accurate does the temperature need to be?
- What material is the instrument made of?
- How easy to clean is the unit?
- Does the bath or chiller have alarms to warn you of temperature deviations?
Water bath alternatives
Though the up-front cost of a bead bath is higher than a water bath, it’s often less than the cost of reagents and lost time due to one contamination event. Because they use beads instead of water, bead baths avoid much of the contamination and maintenance issues of water baths. LabManager.com/PRG-2022-baths-and-chillers
When choosing the best chiller for your lab, you’ll want to consider whether air-cooled or water-cooled configurations are best, and whether a benchtop chiller is adequate, as they typically provide a maximum of 4000 BTUs (1/3 ton or 1051 Watts). Because air-cooled condensers release heat directly to the surrounding environment, they are generally more suitable for large laboratory spaces—confined equipment rooms therefore will normally necessitate water-cooled condensers.