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What You Need to Know When Purchasing a CO2 Incubator

The number of workers utilizing the incubator and the scope of tests being run can strongly affect the type of CO2 incubator used

by Lab Manager
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Maintenance Tip: CO2 Incubators

Two key maintenance tasks can help keep your CO2 incubator at its best—calibrating the unit at least once each year and making sure the door is closed. One expert says that half of incubator problems are caused by not closing the door properly. To prevent contamination, you should make sure you change the water completely at least once a week and clean and disinfect the unit regularly.

How will the number of users and experiments affect the type of CO2 incubator required?

The number of workers utilizing the incubator and the scope of tests being run can strongly affect the type of CO2 incubator used. If the requirements are for personal use and for isolating a small number of cultures, a benchtop unit may be the best fit. Alternatively, if there are many users and multiple cultures being isolated, a floor standing unit— which is typically larger—can be used. As well, stackable floor standing units are available to allow for isolation of different cultures.

How does the sensitivity of the cultures of interest influence which type of CO2 incubator is ideal?

Depending on the temperature sensitivity of cultures, many different heating methods can be used. Direct heat units have larger internal capacity and also allow for temperature uniformity for a lower price point. For units that are constantly opened, a water jacketed unit would be ideal. Water acts as a natural insulator to better keep in heat, even during a power outage. For samples where drying out is a concern or there’s a need to ramp up to temperature quickly, an air jacketed model may be best.

How will cell lines that are sensitive to O2 levels affect which type of incubator should be utilized?

When culturing cells that are sensitive to O2 levels such as animal or human cell lines, the ability to control O2 levels can increase throughput as well as create healthier cell cultures. Ambient air is typically 20-21 percent O2 whereas, in the body, O2 levels can range from 1-14%. The ability to create hypoxic conditions will help cultures live longer, grow more quickly, and will not induce excessive stress.

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