Tips on Choosing the Perfect Water Bath
Laboratory water baths perform a critical function: they maintain water at a precise temperature in which samples can be submerged.
This simple-sounding operation is vital for many applications, including reagent warming, coliform analysis, thawing, and microbiological cultivation. This array of applications means that water baths can be found in labs of almost every type, including clinical, research, and wastewater laboratories.
Whatever your industry and application, choosing the right water bath comes down to several key specifications. If you're overwhelmed by the choices available on the market, keep the below considerations foremost in your mind as you research the perfect lab water bath.
1. Temperature accuracy & uniformity
Lab water baths can vary greatly in temperature stability, even within the same product line. For example, the popular myBath™ series has a temperature accuracy of either ±0.2°C or ±0.5°C depending on the capacity of the individual model.
Some applications are more temperature-sensitive than others; yours might be one of them. Know how sensitive your application is to temperature fluctuations, and shop with that consideration foremost in mind.
Lab water baths can be neatly divided based on their control scheme: analog or digital. Analogs reigned supreme for many years, and can be found in thousands of labs. But digital models are now more popular, and many manufacturers have ceased production of analog baths.
As mentioned above, temperature accuracy is a key concern for some lab applications. For these operations, consider a digital control system: they offer superior control compared to analog water baths, and their overall precision means that you can better trust the reported temperature.
Digital controls also tend to be popular with technicians, who find digital input to be more satisfyingly exact than analog knobs.
But by some measures, analog water baths are more reliable, with fewer parts that can go haywire. And insensitive applications may not require digital precision. If this is true for you, an analog bath might be the right bath.
Whatever your choice, keep the brand/manufacturer in mind! All lab water baths are not the same, and the market is saturated with cheap imports. The more serious your work, the more serious you should be about finding a quality brand.
3. Lid versus no lid
Lab water baths are manufactured with and without lids. In many cases, the lid is a separately-purchased accessory.
Lids have many advantages. They help prevent external contamination as well as condensation. If operating a bath at high temperatures, a lid will reduce evaporation and help in regulating temperature; in fact, a lid typically increases the unit's max operating temperature. Most lids are gabled: this allows taller vessels to be comfortably situated.
If you decide you need a lid for your water bath, be sure to check whether a lid is included with a given unit. Promotional photos can be misleading, and many baths don't ship with covers included. Since a gabled lid can cost as much as 25% of the main unit, make sure to account for its price if it's a needed accessory not included with the bath.
Durability is a stealth specification. When ordering online or from a catalog, it's difficult to gauge the quality of a water bath's construction. Many cheaper units are shoddy imports, but it's not always easy to tell.
Quality units usually have two key characteristics: stainless steel construction and epoxy coating. Seamless stainless steel nearly eliminates rust (a constant hazard for a water bath). Epoxy coating protects the bath from bumps and bruises, makes the surface easy to clean, and keeps the exterior cool even during extended operation.
Aside from elements of construction, check the manufacturer's warranty, as well as their guarantees for maintenance and replacement. Even if you never need these services, they're indicative of the manufacturer's confidence in their product.
Safety is easy to forget until something goes wrong, but by buying wisely you can help prevent it from ever being a concern.
Excellent safety features like automatic disconnect and alarm indicators protect both your bath and your samples. These features monitor the water temperature and liquid level, and will shut-off or signal if either exceeds or falls below safe thresholds.
Aside from protecting samples, lids can help prevent hot water from splashing out of the bath.
These features might seem like amenities, but in a busy lab, it's easy for a researcher to be distracted by other responsibilities and leave the bath unattended. It only needs to happen once; modern safety features can provide peace of mind.
A laboratory water bath is a big purchase with multiple considerations, but if you follow the above tips, you're in a good position to make the right choice.
If you'd like free advice on pursuing a laboratory water bath, you can reach us at email@example.com or 1-833-476-9420. We provide lab water baths from top brands like Julabo and Benchmark, and we'd be happy to help you find the perfect unit.