What is an ELISA Reader?

An ELISA reader is an instrument designed to measure the absorbance of samples contained in microplate wells, typically in 96-well format. Instruments designed mainly for ELISA are usually affordable instruments which use filters for wavelenght selection, and they include a software for analysis of immunoassays. While sometimes the more generic name absorbance reader is used, the application that made this type of readers popular is ELISA, and hence they are usually called ELISA readers.

Multimode Microplate Readers are also suitable to measure ELISA, and are thus also listed under this category. However, they support the measurement of other detection technologies beyond absorbance, such as luminescence and fluorescence, and are more complex and expensive.

How to buy an ELISA reader

If you are going to buy an ELISA reader, you need to keep the following things in mind:

  • Wavelength selection: most ELISA are measured at 405, 450 or 492 nm, sometimes with a reference measurement between 590 and 630 nm, and such filters must be available in every ELISA reader. However, if you plan to measure other assays, you will probably need additional filters, so check the number of available filter positions.
  • Incubation: most ELISA are measured at room temperature, but a reader equipped with microplate heating is useful in a number of cases, for example, to perform enzymatic activity assays.
  • Software: there are a number of considerations here. First, ELISA requires a software that can perform quantitative and qualitative analysis of immunoassays. Second, many ELISA readers use a PC-based software, but some also offer standalone mode. Third, it's important to verify that the software meets any requirements of your company or institution, such as connectivity to LIMS or compliance with FDA CFR 21 part 11, or others. 
  • Detection technologies: a multimode reader is more expensive than a simple ELISA reader, but it can be used to measure a much wider array of assays. Depending on the assays you plan to perform and the availability of other readers in your lab, it might be wise to muy a multimode reader instead of an ELISA reader.

The Apollo ELISA Reader

The Apollo is an excellent ELISA reader, meeting all points mentioned above:

  • 4 filters preinstalled for ELISA (405, 450, 492 and 630 nm), plus 4 positions available for additional filters.
  • Affordable version with incubator up to 50ºC (Apollo-I).
  • Standalone mode including powerful ELISA analysis software and optional printer.
  • LightCompass® PC software with optional compliance with FDA CFR 21 part 11, LIMS integration, and more.

ELISA Reader Applications

As absorbance is used as reading technology in many different assays, ELISA readers have a broad range of applications, including, but not limited to:

Compare ELISA Readers

 ApolloTristar 3
  • Photodiode for absorbance
  • Low-noise photomultiplier tube in dual mode
  • Photodiode for absorbance
Absorbance (Vis)  
Absorbance (UV)  
 ApolloTristar 3
Optical systemSingle technologySingle path for all detection technologies
Light source
  • Quartz halogen lamp
  • Xenon flash lamp
Spectral range Absorbance340-750 nm200-1000 nm
Bottom reading  
Monochromator for Abs. and Fluor. Excitation  
Monochromator for Fluor. Emission  
Filter identificationManualManual
Wavelength scanning (absorbance) 
Monochromator stray light  
Monochromator bandwidth  
 ApolloTristar 3
InjectorsNoUp to 3 JET injectors with frictionless operation
Injector volume 10-100 µL in 1 µL steps
Injector accuracy Better than 2% across the entire volume range
Injector precision Better than 2% across the entire volume range
 ApolloTristar 3
Microplate formats96-well6- to 384-well
Additional sample formats (optional) 
  • µDrop plate for microvolumes
  • Adapter for cuvettes
  • Adapter for petri dishes
  • Adapter for Terasaki plates
Optional Microplate Stacker  
 ApolloTristar 3
Shaking3 shaking modes: slow, medium and fastLinear, orbital, double orbital, with selectable speed and diameter
Temperature controlfrom RT + 4° C to 50° C (Apollo-I only)From ambient +5° to 45° C
Gas connection  
 ApolloTristar 3
Absorbance precision

≤ 0.2 % CV (@0-3 OD) (@405 nm)

≤ 1 % CV (@3-4 OD) (@405 nm)

Better than 0.6%
Absorbance accuracy

± 1 % or ± 0.005 OD (0-3 OD) whichever is greater (@405 nm)

± 2 % (3-4 OD) (@405 nm)

Better than 2%
Dynamic range0-4 OD0-3.5 OD

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