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Choosing the Best Pressure Sterilizer for Mushroom Cultivation

autoclaves for agriculture and laboratory testing

Too many mycology labs and mushroom growers end up with a sterilizer that costs too much and does too little. There are three key considerations when selecting a pressure sterilizer for mushroom cultivation:

  1. Sterilizer Type
  2. Program Flexibility
  3. Support

A good pressure sterilizer for mushroom cultivation will be efficient, with a small physical footprint and low maintenance. Ideally, look for a manufacturer who can work with you to create a custom unit optimized to meet your needs.  

Sterilizer Type

The most frequent mistake researchers, cultivators, and other non-medical autoclave users make is in purchasing a medical-grade autoclave. This can be an especially easy mistake to make in North America, where medical-grade sterilizers have traditionally dominated the market (regardless of application).

Manufacturers designed medical-grade autoclaves to perform a fairly narrow range of tasks extremely well.  (This generally means sterilizing medical instruments and supplies in a hospital setting.) These medical-grade devices are optimized for near-constant operation, without regard for resource consumption. Conversely, research-grade autoclaves are designed to be extremely flexible, with a much smaller carbon/resource footprint. It’s not uncommon for a research grade pressure sterilizer for mushroom cultivation to use 97% less water and 83% less electricity than a medical-grade unit set to exactly the same tasks. 

In order to assure the most reliable performance and the lowest ongoing maintenance costs, look for an autoclave with an in-chamber heater (as opposed to an external steam generator) that uses standard seals, consumables, and other components (as opposed to proprietary parts only available through the manufacturer).

Program Flexibility

Too many autoclaves (especially the smaller “economical” table top models) sharply restrict your ability to program custom cycles. Even more so than other agricultural, industrial, or research applications, mushroom cultivation often requires custom, verifiable sterilization cycles.

Also look for models that offer the right load and chamber monitoring options. A good research autoclave should make it easy to monitor and record the data that matters, including chamber temperature, temperature ramps, pressure, and load temperature (via wandering probe). Systems that both self-monitor (for stable and safe operation) and can monitor and record multiple parameters (for your records or later analysis) are the gold standard.

Technical Support with Pressure Sterilizers for Mushroom Cultivation

Even with proper regular user maintenance, something is eventually going to break.  Choose an autoclave with a solid network of service representatives and good service plans. But in most cases, even more important than maintenance and repair services is a program of ongoing technical support. This can be especially valuable if your work includes sterilizing non-standard loads (like bagged soil or substrate).  

For example, Priorclave backs every unit we ship with free lifetime technical support, specifically because we understand the breadth of unique challenges in the world beyond medical autoclaves.