Incubators are critical instruments for growing a variety of organisms in the lab. CO2 incubators allow researchers to create optimal environments for cell and tissue culture, while microbiology incubators provide ideal conditions for growing microorganisms. Refrigerated options are also available for a number of other applications. When purchasing an incubator, make sure it is easy to clean and use as well as reliable, before exploring extra features. For a list of incubator manufacturers, see our online directories: LabManager.com/incubator-manufacturers and LabManager.com/CO2-incubator-manufacturers
6 Questions to Ask When Purchasing an Incubator:
- What capacity do you need now and in the future?
- Can the shelves be adjusted to optimize interior space in the incubator?
- What are the shelves made of and will they corrode with prolonged use and cleaning?
- What method of airflow is used in the incubator and does it contain a HEPA filter?
- Is remote monitoring available for temperature and CO2 concentration?
- How accurate do the controls and sensors need to be for your work?
If a lab requires a refrigerated incubator that can maintain a wider temperature range, they will need to consider two main cooling technologies—vapor compressors and Peltier. Users should think of energy efficiency, maintenance, physical footprint, temperature control, and environmental-friendliness when making their choice. LabManager.com/PRG-2022-incubators
While today’s incubators have many features to help prevent contamination, it’s still important that researchers themselves follow good practices to avoid introducing biological contaminants into incubators. Lab staff should avoid touching the interior of the incubator with bare hands or unsterilized gloves and speaking into the incubator. Regular cleaning and sterilization of the unit is also critical.