Purchasing Your First Fume Cupboard in Three Simple Steps

At first glance, purchasing a new fume cupboard can seem daunting. With a complex assortment of options and brands available, selecting a suitable product can leave you confused and demotivated. However, you no longer need a team of astrophysicists and rocket scientists to purchase your dream fume hood. Thanks to our talented team of solution designers, project managers and engineers, we've done the hard work for you.

Developing Your Fume Cupboard Specification Brief

Developing a specification brief that asses your laboratories processes are a recommended first step in understanding your goals. First, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What materials or substances do you intend to use inside your cabinet? 
  2. Are the experiments being utilised on a large scale? 
  3. Does your facility have an operational HVAC system? 
  4. Do you have enough space to accommodate a new fume hood, or do you plan on replacing an existing cabinet?
  5. What are your project timeline and budget?

Next, we move on to the building itself. Unless your facility has been designed to accommodate a modern laboratory, you may encounter access challenges. Fume hoods weigh more than 300kg and typically measure 1200mm wide by 2300mm high. Fitting this product through a single doorway is often difficult, time-consuming and could damage the unit.

However, companies like TION Global Limited will visit you on-site and provide you with flexible options. This could be arranging an alternative access point or building a modular unit in two separate pieces.

Selecting The Appropriate Fume Hood Brand

Much like cars, the fume cupboard industry supports different brands with varying levels of functionality. This ranges from basic stand-alone fume hoods to automated units with touchscreen functionality and built-in alarms.

We understand budget constraints may restrict your fume cupboard purchasing power, but the more you spend, the more you get. For example, we manufacture our units using 100% medical-grade welded polypropylene. This extends the average life of a fume hood by ten years. Why? Because it removes any chance of corrosion, allowing you to increase the frequency and length of your experiments without damaging the body. Why spend £3,000 on a steel fume hood that needs replacing every five years? When you could spend £6,000 on a polypropylene fume hood that lasts fifteen. 

Once you've selected a brand, it's time to think about the type of unit you need. Typically, there are five different options to choose from:

  1. Ducted Fume Cupboards - Connected to a pre-installed HVAC system ventilating air outside the room.
  2. Ductless Fume Cupboards - Uses an integrated carbon or HEPA filter to recirculate air back into the room (often referred to as a recirculating fume cupboard).
  3. Walk-In Fume Cupboards – Used to store large equipment and materials too big for traditional benchtop cabinets.
  4. Laminar Flow Fume Cupboards - Intended for applications where both the user and sample need protection (sterile conditions are required).
  5. Wash-Down Fume Cupboards - Specialised cabinets designed for use with Perchloric acid (water filtration prevents crystallisation of acidic vapours).
  6. Scrubbed Fume Cupboards – For use with heavy chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid or nitric acid, particularly in large volumes.

The type of unit you need depends on your application. If you're ever unsure, please feel to contact our team at [email protected].

Managing The Installation And Commissioning Process

Most fume cupboard manufacturers will install and commission the units on-site for you. Others may use third-party contractors with specialist equipment. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses, but the products need testing according to EN 14175 standards by law, annually. At TION, we offer 36-month service contracts to manage this process for you. Ensuring your fume cupboards are safe, secure, and compliant.

However, if you're installing the units in-house, our engineers have listed some key considerations:

  1. Location - It's best to install the unit close to a ventilation exit point, allowing the vapours to depart the lab as soon as possible.
  2. Planning Permission - Ducted fume cupboards often require planning permission on the ventilation stacks, which must be 3 meters above the facility’s highest point.
  3. Positioning The Extract Fans - Priority should be given to the positioning of the extraction fans before starting the installation process. Ensuring your maintenance personnel have easy access to this equipment can save time and money.

Our Expert Opinion: Purchasing a fume cupboard is a time-consuming process. It requires due diligence, understanding and patience. But thanks to companies like TION Global Limited, you have professional resources available to simplify your decisions. Our solution designers are here to help from concept to completion.

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