Lab Manager | Run Your Lab Like a Business

Lab Trends

Lab Manager Life Science Product Surveys

Eight Questions to Ask When Purchasing a CO2 Incubator

Learn readers’ purchasing plans and more from our latest CO2 incubator survey results

by Shane Downie

CO2 incubators are designed to copy a cell’s natural environment with a relative humidity of around 95 percent, a temperature of 37°C, and a pH of 7.2 to 7.5. They are most common in biology labs performing tissue or cell culture and are used in any process where cells need to be cultured for a few hours, many weeks, or where cells need to be expanded or maintained.

Top 8 Questions You Should Ask When Buying a CO2 Incubator

  1. What measures have been taken in the design to avoid contamination and what features are included to remove contamination?
  2. What capacity and orientation of incubator does your lab require?
  3. Which temperature control will you need? Direct heat, water jacketed, or air jacketed?
  4. How does the CO2 sensor contribute to optimal cell growth?
  5. How does the humidity contribute to optimal cell growth?
  6. Ask for the uniformity and accuracy data versus asking for a water jacket or air jacket.
  7. Do you need O2 control to simulate the environment for your experiment accurately?
  8. Calculate the total cost of ownership on the product over one year including product price, install, regular cleaning labor, material like HEPA filters, etc.

Types of CO2 incubators used by survey respondents:

Water Jacketed53%
Air Jacketed49%
Direct Heat24%

Primary purpose of CO2 incubators as reported by survey respondents:

Quality Control6%
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF)4%

Nearly 54% of respondents are engaged in purchasing a new CO2 incubator. The reasons for these purchases are as follows:

Upgrading existing equipment
Addition to existing systems, increase capacity
Replacement of an aging system
Setting up a new lab
First time purchase

Top 10 features/factors respondents look for when purchasing a CO2 incubator:

Stable CO2 control80%
Low maintenance / easy to clean79%
Performance of product78%
Value for price paid75%
Audible and visual temperature alarms75%
Ease of use70%
Low operating costs66%
Service and support65%
Fast recovery times62%

For more information on CO2 incubators, including useful articles and a list of manufacturers, visit

See previous survey results: