Chilled Incubators: The Cold Truth About Refrigerated Incubation

Refrigerated incubators, also known as low-temperature incubators, are incubators intended to keep temperatures at or below ambient. These incubators are also ideal in maintaining a temperature of 20°C, which is required for a test known as a Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). It entails incubating materials saturated with oxygen at 20°C for five days on average.


What is a Refrigerated Incubator?

A refrigerated incubator, also known as a chilling incubator or cooling incubator, is a specialized piece of laboratory equipment that is meant to maintain specific temperature conditions below ambient levels.

In contrast to normal incubators, which only offer a warm atmosphere, refrigerated incubators may chill samples or specimens to particular temperatures, making them important in a wide range of scientific and industrial applications.

The invention of chilled incubators was a great step forward in the field of scientific study. Prior to its inception, researchers struggled to maintain constant cold settings, sometimes turning to improvised techniques that lacked accuracy. With the introduction of these incubators, a new age of research opportunities emerged, particularly in sectors needing regulated cold temperatures.

What is the Function of a Refrigerated Incubator?

The capacity of a refrigerated incubator to maintain temperature inside a closed chamber is its core premise. This is accomplished via the use of a mix of heating and cooling systems:

A compressor-based cooling system, similar to that used in domestic refrigerators, is often used in refrigerated incubators. When the fixed temperature falls below the ambient room temperature, the compressor kicks in and circulates refrigerant via coils. As the refrigerant evaporates, it absorbs heat from the incubator's interior, cooling it.

Heating System 

In addition to the cooling system, there is a heating element. This means that the temperature in the incubator may be raised if it falls too low, resulting in a stable environment for the samples within.

Temperature Control

Modern refrigerated incubators are outfitted with digital controls that enable users to precisely select the appropriate temperature. Sensors within the chamber continually monitor the temperature, and heating and cooling systems are engaged as required to maintain the predetermined settings.

The beauty of these incubators is their capacity to fluidly transition between heating and cooling, keeping a stable inside environment independent of exterior temperature swings.

What Good Is a Cooling Incubator?

Cooling or chilled incubators are essential in several scientific and industrial fields:


Certain microbes, such as psychrophiles, thrive in colder environments. It is necessary to study these species in an environment that is similar to their native cold habitats.

Biochemical Studies

Some biochemical processes, enzyme studies, or protein crystallizations need cooling to assure stability or to reduce reaction rates.

Refrigerated incubators may be used to research the shelf life of perishable commodities, fermentation processes, or the development of foodborne pathogens under varied temperature settings in the food and beverage industry.


Chilled settings are used to perform stability testing on certain medications or vaccines in order to better understand their behavior under varied storage conditions.

Researchers exploring the effects of climate change on diverse species may utilize chilled incubators to replicate future colder or more unpredictable climatic situations.

What Are the Different Types of Incubators?

In general, incubators are classified into two groups depending on their temperature capabilities:

Standard (or Heating) Incubators

These are intended to keep temperatures above ambient. They are often employed for jobs requiring warmth, such as cell culture development. Standard incubators cannot be cooled, but they may give a consistent warm climate.

Refrigerated (or Cooling) Incubators

As previously mentioned, these incubators can heat and cool, providing a wider variety of temperature settings. This dual functionality makes them more adaptable and suited for a broader range of applications than ordinary equivalents.

Finally, chilled incubators are important in a variety of scientific and industrial fields. Their capacity to maintain exact frigid temperatures distinguishes them from regular incubators and makes them an important tool for both researchers and professionals.