When thinking about incubators, many have a vision of warm temperatures in order for something to grow. However, there are refrigerated incubators to consider. A refrigerated incubator can maintain a wider temperature range and have greater precision for applications that are temperature-dependent, such as temperature-controlled storage, quality testing of food products, or the temperature-dependent growth of microorganisms. When looking for a new cooling incubator, there are different cooling mechanisms to consider.
Peltier Cooling and Vapor Compressors
There are two different cooling mechanisms for a cooling incubator. The conventional option is vapor compression technology. This technology uses circulating liquid refrigerant to cool it. The circulating refrigerant passes through the compressor and is then compressed to a higher pressure and temperature. The compressed hot vapor passes through a condenser, where it is then cooled by water or air and condenses into a liquid refrigerant. The refrigerant then goes into the thermal expansion valve and it has a decrease in pressure and temperature. This means it makes them colder in the enclosed space. Finally, the liquid refrigerant is dispersed into the evaporator, where it then absorbs heat from the warm air and cools the space to the desired temperature.
Peltier cooling uses the thermoelectric effect in order to create cooled and heated sides in the device, and it doesn’t require any liquid refrigerant. Any refrigerated incubators that use this technology uses semiconductors in other ways to get the desired cooling. When the direct current is used on the device, it goes through two types of semiconductors. This causes the heat to sink on one side to warm and on the other side in order to cool. This overall cools the circulated air and the space.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Cooling Technology
When using Peltier cooling technology, there aren’t any moving parts so you don’t have to worry about wear and tear and this reduces the likelihood of system failure. This means it can extend the life of your incubator and reduce the ongoing maintenance costs you would have if you choose vapor compression technology. Vapor compressor technology can fail because of lubrication problems, overheating that reduces efficiency and algae growth. Even though it is possible for the Peltier method to fail because of overheating, it is usually more reliable. The industry standard between failures for the Peltier technology is 200,000 hours.
The materials used in the Peltier method are flexible and can be used in refrigerated incubators that use less space and cool smaller, enclosed, targeted areas. The use of the direct current means that Peltier cooled systems give you better temperature control, since the amount and direction of the electrical current can be more controlled. A compressor-based system operates on a fully on or fully off basis, so it’s hard to have a fraction of a degree of stability. To create this stability, you need to have the chiller on full power all the time and then use a heating element that gives enough heat to offset the chilling power of the compressor to the right incubation temperature. A Peltier system is controlled by a digital circulator and this can cycle on and off many times per second to give you the precise temperature you want. This is going to be very important in certain applications, such as the transfer of temperature-sensitive biological materials and the monitoring of growth microorganisms.
While both systems have different advantages, it’s important to consider environmental friendliness, maintenance, temperature control, physical footprint, and energy efficiency when choosing the cooling system for your refrigerated incubator. A compressor-based system will always waste energy since it heats and cools at the same time. A Peltier system can cool or heat depending on what is needed and it won’t compete with itself in two different directions. This means you get huge energy savings. Even though Peltier systems are more expensive, to begin with, the savings you get from maintenance and energy efficiency will make up for it when using your system for years to come. In addition to selecting the cooling technology, there are different models for your cooling incubator purchase that have features, including a combination of cooling and heating capability, programmability, color touch screens, and Wi-Fi connectivity.