Like other large capital purchases, test chambers require serious research. There’s so much to consider. For starters, test chambers range greatly in size, from bench-top models to walk- and drive-in chambers, and performance. Ambient conditions and the physical makeup of your lab space matter as well.
Any misstep in the process will cost you time, money, and potentially compromise your safety in addition to your testing. That’s why it’s so important to follow a set procedure by doing the following:
- Consulting your entire team in the process
- Working with your facilities’ manager on the building power, water, and gas resources available; and accounting for the test chamber’s specifics
- Understanding local business codes
- Establishing a budget, testing timeline, and testing goals
Completing these early steps will set you on the way to finding the right test chamber for your needs—not just for the short term, but also for future testing. We encourage you to read our full test chamber buyer’s guide that covers all details associated with the purchasing process. For now, these are some factors to take into account as you begin your search.
Before you start shopping for test chambers, first understand the standards you’re testing to, which vary from industry to industry. They’ll determine the type of chamber (temperature and humidity, thermal shock, or salt spray to name a few) and performance you’ll need, from extreme temperature and humidity conditions to safety considerations. For example, test chambers for lithium-ion battery testing require features that prevent hazardous situations including fires and explosions.
In addition to safety features, you may need add-ons such as boost cooling. Talk with your manufacturer about your testing goals. They’ll walk you through the features you’ll need.
Variety of Testing
What stage of product development will you primarily be testing in? Do you anticipate expanding your testing in the future? Will you be working with small or large load sizes? These are just some of the questions you should ask your team prior to purchasing a test chamber. Companies, especially new ones, tend to settle on buying test chambers that fit their current requirements without focusing on what’s to come.
So if you suddenly need to test in extreme conditions with temperature cycling, you’ll wish you had a higher-performing test chamber.
The best test chamber manufacturers focus on customer-first solutions. So if you have particular requirements that, in your mind, will be difficult to meet, ask about them. Your manufacturer should work with you to build a custom test chamber or recommend fixtures to expand performance. That’s a much safer route to take than building your own solutions, which puts you and your lab at risk.
After Your Test Chamber Purchase
Purchasing a test chamber shouldn’t be a one-off conversation. It should start a relationship with an expert manufacturer who understands your pain points and delivers solutions to address them. That continues after the test chamber arrives in your lab. Each purchase should also be coupled with a service plan to ensure the long-term operation of your chambers. With proper maintenance, they can last for upwards of 15 years.
A good relationship creates additional opportunities to upgrade your existing chambers in a cost-effective way as well. If you love something on your new test chamber—say, the technology and instrumentation—there’s a decent chance you can retrofit older test chambers with the same feature. That way you can improve all of your testing without stressing your budget.
All are the extended benefits of taking the research and purchasing process seriously. You’ll need repairs, general service, and a plan along the way. The right partner makes all the difference.
Associated Environmental Systems has designed, manufactured, and supported standard and custom test chambers to meet customers’ most demanding requirements for more than 60 years. Contact us for all your testing needs or view our inventory of test chambers here.