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Biosafety cabinets require airflow to maintain product protection and containment – and it takes a great deal of energy to maintain the proper airflow.  

Therefore one of the most effective ways to reduce energy is to reduce this airflow. In some situations, turning the cabinet off when not in use is an appropriate solution. However when you turn a cabinet off, aseptic conditions are not maintained, and in most cases the cabinet needs to be decontaminated and then disinfected before being placed back in service. This process can be time-consuming and decreases productivity.

Reduced Air Flow Biosafety Cabinet Setting

Some of the latest biosafety cabinet designs utilize a new technology called a low-flow or “night set-back” mode. In our design, the low-flow mode (ReadySAFE™) is automatically engaged when the user closes the sash of the biosafety cabinet – the motor switches to a reduced flow mode and the light in the cabinet turns off. This significantly reduces energy consumption. Upon opening the sash the motor switches to it normal operating speed and the cabinet light turns back on. Product protection and containment are maintained.

This mode can be used during meetings, work breaks and overnight. Productivity increases because you have immediate access to safe working conditions upon opening the viewscreen and ongoing work can be left in the cabinet without fear of contamination.

Power Consumption Comparison

Below is a comparison of the power consumption during normal operating mode versus low-flow mode on a Class II Type A2 (4’ nominal with sash at 8”) cabinet and a Class II Type B2 (4’ nominal) cabinet. Because Type A2 and Type B2 cabinets have different airflow requirements, the savings vary depending on which type of Class II cabinet you are operating.

The savings are derived from the specifications for each cabinet. The kilowatts (kW) per hour (how electricity usage is charged) is determined by calculating wattage (Amps x Volts = Watts), then converting it to kW. It shows that the low flow operating mode cuts electricity requirements by 56% in the A2 cabinet and 70% in the B2 cabinet.

Class II Type A2 Cabinet

Cabinet in Operation ModeCabinet in Low-Flow ModeSavings
Voltage Required115 V115 V
Operating Amperage3.6 A1.6 A
Hourly Power Consumption0.414 kW0.184 kW0.230 kW – 56%

Class II Type B2 Cabinet

Cabinet in Operation ModeCabinet in Low-Flow ModeSavings
Voltage Required115 V115 V
Operating Amperage1.0 A0.3 A
Hourly Power Consumption0.115 kW0.035 kW0.080 kW – 70%

Energy Cost Savings

In a typical usage scenario, the cabinet would be in operation (turned on) for 8 hours a day and in low-flow mode for 16 hours (cabinet not in use). If you calculate the electricity cost (based on U.S. average of $0.13 per kW hour), you can see that a savings of 37% can be realized with the A2 cabinet and a savings of 47% can be realized with the B2 cabinet. Over time, especially when you have many cabinets in your lab, these savings can really add up.

It is important to note that these cost savings are calculated for the electricity required to run the cabinet (plug load) only. Additional energy savings are realized when utilizing the low-flow mode, including reductions in static pressure, heat load, and volume of exhausted air.

Class II Type A2

Continuous OperationCabinet On (8 hours) / Low-Flow Mode
(16 hours)
Daily Power Consumption 9.9 kW6.2 kW
Annual Operating Costs$470$294$176 – 37%

Class II Type B2

Continuous OperationCabinet On (8 hours) / Low-Flow Mode
(16 hours)
Daily Power Consumption 2.8 kW1.5 kW
Annual Operating Costs$133$71$62 – 47%

Maintaining Safe Conditions in Low-Flow Mode

Maintaining protection is paramount, so ensure that safety and performance are not impacted by the low-flow mode in any cabinet you choose. The cabinet should be tested in the low-flow operating mode to demonstrate it will maintain containment and still protect the work environment from contaminants.

The ReadySAFE™ low-flow mode was developed by Baker and is included in their Class II Type A2 and Type B2 cabinets. Using microbiological and cleanliness-class/particle-count testing techniques we concluded that when operating in the ReadySAFE mode, our cabinets meet or exceed NSF/ANSI Standard 49 Class II and ISO class 4 criteria.

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