Emergency Power Back-up for Hospitals: An Overview

Due to the critical nature of their services, hospitals require constant electrical supply, a requirement that involves planning for how to navigate power outages. In this entry, we look at generator equipment for emergency power back-up for hospitals, how to choose a transfer switch for a hospital, and who to consult for hospital generator concerns.

Choosing a Generator

Many companies use natural gas generators due to their engine’s easy maintenance. But gas generators may not meet safety codes for hospitals if they are powered by utility gas alone, as it may not be considered an “uninterruptible” power source by hospital safety codes. To make gas generators power supply uninterruptible requires the implementation of large tanks that sit above ground and require careful location planning.
Instead of gas generators, many hospitals use diesel generators that are fed from double-lined fuel tanks, which are ideally set above ground to avoid the cost of a special leak detection system. Hospitals should have generators sized to support full load operations for a minimum of 8 hours, with 24 hours of support being ideal.

Choosing a Transfer Switch

Entities that do not require constant electrical supply may implement open transition (break before make) transfer switches, which connect a building to generator power shortly after disconnecting it from utility power. Entities that do require constant electrical supply, on the other hand, implement closed transition (make before break) switches, which access generator supply shortly before disconnecting from utility supply. Hospitals use the latter type of switch.

Who to Consult for Hospital Generator Concerns

For advice on hospital generator installation, it’s best to consult with a generator service company that specializes in hospital generator installation and maintenance, particularly one that features a healthcare utility management assurance program, which helps the company’s customers to ensure that: all power outage contingencies are accounted for, power equipment is in continual compliance with Joint Commission requirements, and priority is received when scheduling consultation assignments or for Joint Commission inspections.

A generator service company can also advise you on issues such as: over sizing a generator set for future expansion versus implementing another generator if needed; whether to implement an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in addition to a backup generator; indoor and outdoor sound attenuation strategies; whether to install spring isolators to reduce generator vibration; best strategies for generator exhaust systems; and assessing whether potential areas for generator location offer enough support.

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