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How to Select the Right Centrifuge for Your Cell Culture Room

Hermle Z366 Centrifuge

Imagine you are a new grad student and you are tasked by your principal investigator (PI) to find a centrifuge. The instruction is typically “Find a centrifuge for the cell culture room,” or worse, “Look at what we have and order the same thing.” And if the existing equipment is 20+ years old, well, good luck. 

The problem is this: No one lists a centrifuge as perfect for your cell culture room. Every lab is different. There is no “one size fits all” option.

You could easily spend hours looking for the right equipment, but there is a plethora of specs to go through. Next, you call a rep and ask them to sell you the exact same equipment — maybe you receive the right product, or maybe you pay too much for something that no one likes (again). How can you select the right centrifuge for your cell culture room without falling into this trap?    

Five Tips to Find a Centrifuge for Your Laboratory 

The secret to shopping for a centrifuge without overspending is to start with the rotors. A rotor is a rotating unit with holes for test tubes and other vessels, which spins the materials inside the centrifuge. Once you meet the basic requirements for what you will spin, you match the centrifuge that will accept the ideal rotors. This stops you from buying a big centrifuge when something smaller and less expensive can get the job done.

Here are five simple questions to ask yourself as you are evaluating different centrifuges. You will be the star of the lab and save yourself from unnecessary time and stress.   

  1. “What quantity and size of tubes and/or plates do I need to spin?”
    You are probably spinning more than one vessel per centrifuge — whether it’s 4 x 50mL, 20 x 15mL or otherwise. When in doubt, ask your lab mates to see the tube and make note of its size.

  2. “How fast do I want each different vessel to spin?”
    All rotors in the USA will dictate the max speed to the centrifuge. For example, let’s say you want your 50mL tubes to never spin faster than 1,000 xg, but you want your 1.5mL tubes to spin at a max of 16,000 xg. While a centrifuge can spin up to 30,000 xg, the 50mL rotor has a max speed of 4,000 xg. This is an important reason to begin the buying process with the rotors!

  3. “Do I prefer a swing-out bucket or fixed angle rotor?”
    There are pros and cons with both models. While a fixed angle rotor can typically hold more test tubes, pelleted material may form sedimentation on the side of the tubes. And while a swinging bucket rotor may be preferable for centrifuging samples, a fixed angle model can withstand much greater force. Remember to consider your applications and materials and weigh those against personal or organizational preferences.

  4. “Which is better, refrigerated or non-refrigerated?”
    If you are worried about sample degradation, you will want a refrigerated model. Although rotors heat up as they start to spin faster, refrigeration helps keep heat at bay.

  5. “Is there anything else I should consider?”
    Ask your PI, postdoc and lab mates what they like or dislike about the centrifuge(s) you already have and go from there. Bring all your notes and desired specs to your sales rep. Remember, a great sales rep will be able to answer all of your questions and hopefully inspire you to ask more!  

 Ready to shop for a centrifuge? Browse our selection of centrifuges online.

 LabDoctor 8 Mini Microcentrifuge and Hermle Z366 4x250mL capacity Centrifuge

Pictured: (Left) LabDoctor 8 Mini Microcentrifuge, (Right) Hermle Z366 4x250mL capacity Centrifuge 

MIDSCI Has the Right Lab Centrifuges to Meet Your Needs

Let MIDSCI help with the seemingly impossible task of finding the best centrifuge for your lab. Whether you are looking for super speed, a small footprint or whisper quiet operation, we carry a selection of products from only the most trusted vendors. MIDSCI is the dealer of choice for several centrifuge manufacturers inside the United States — and we have the customer service team you need to feel confident in your purchase.  

To request a quote or other information, please submit a contact form online or call us toll-free at 1 (800) 227-9997.

We are always happy to answer your questions via email, at

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