Image courtesy of Russelectric

Manufacturers of generators and other electrical equipment such as automatic transfer switches (ATSs) and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) have upgraded their systems to improve health care operations in recent years.

For instance, the latest generators use less fuel, produce fewer emissions and lower noise levels, and have longer service intervals than older models. They also have more sophisticated control and monitoring systems that can detect and diagnose faults, communicate with building management systems and optimize performance.

Additionally, the diversification of configurations allows hospitals to customize their emergency power supply systems (EPSS) according to their needs and preferences. “For example, some hospitals may opt for a single large generator that can power the entire facility, while others may prefer smaller generators that can be paralleled or isolated as needed,” says Corey Honl, vice president of sales and application engineering at Generac Power Systems Inc., Waukesha, Wis.

The deployment of microgrids, which can offer reliable, cost-effective power, adds more options. Microgrids can be customized to integrate solar photovoltaic modules and other renewable energy sources, energy storage solutions and traditional power solutions (such as generator sets) using diesel and gaseous fuels, according to Chris Norris, energy systems engineer at Caterpillar Inc.’s Electric Power Division, Irving, Texas.

“The entire system can be managed at the site level by monitoring and control technologies that continuously oversee load levels and power source availability to deploy the best mix of resources at any given time,” Norris says.

In fact, hospitals have started incorporating renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, into their EPSS. These alternative energy sources can supplement the grid power supply and reduce reliance on traditional fossil fuel-based generators, leading to greater sustainability and cost savings.

Additionally, the use of energy storage systems, particularly batteries, has gained traction in EPSS for hospitals, according to Kunj Sheth, marketing director for mission critical at Cummins Power Systems in Columbus, Ind. 

“Batteries can store excess energy during non-emergency periods and release it during power outages, providing a reliable backup solution. Lithium-ion batteries have become more popular due to their high energy density and long lifespan,” Sheth says.

Advances in generators

Caterpillar offers a wide range of fast-response, natural-gas generator sets from 100 kilowatt (kW) to 2.5 megawatt that are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified and compliant with the National Fire Protection Association’s NFPA 110, Standard for Emergency and Standby Power Systems, Level 1, Type 10, requirements. With a 10-second start and Class G3 transient performance capability, these generator sets are suitable for life safety loads, according to Norris.

Caterpillar recently added energy as a service (EaaS) solutions to its power portfolio. “EaaS solutions combine a leading technology platform with expert insights, managed services and cutting-edge technology to enhance the operational and economic opportunities of distributed generation and storage assets,” Norris says. The technology automatically dispatches customers’ on-site assets to generate and store energy at optimal times.

Future-fuel ready, Caterpillar engines operate on various renewable fuels. Hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) can serve as a drop-in replacement for diesel without sacrificing performance. Caterpillar also offers generator sets that can be configured to operate on natural gas blended with up to 25% hydrogen for continuous, prime and load management applications.

Rolls-Royce Solutions America, Novi, Mich., designs its mtu emergency power systems to serve a wide range of applications. Each solution is custom fitted to the needs of the specific application, whether it is stringent emissions standards (e.g., EPA Tier 4 and non-attainment zones) or performance certifications (e.g., International Building Code or hurricane ratings). 

A wide range of its diesel generator set enclosures were recently certified to the highest standard for wind velocity, achieving the Miami-Dade County Notification of Acceptance, according to Rick Apple, senior manager for distribution sales and power generation in North America at Rolls-Royce Solutions. 

Cummins Power Systems offers EPSS solutions ranging from 10 to 3,500 kW in diesel and gas variants that serve a wide range of requirements. The company recently introduced the first set of Centum Series generators. These new generator sets are engineered to meet hospitals’ precise power needs with high-efficiency engines that fit in a smaller footprint.

“The Centum Series represents a significant shift in the Cummins approach to power system design, offering next-level flexibility, efficiency and sustainability,” Sheth says. Centum Series generators are designed to help users meet sustainability and zero-emissions goals. “The Centum Series C1250D6E/C1500D6E generator sets are approved for use with paraffinic fuels, including HVO, which can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 90% over the products’ total life cycle,” he adds.

Because hospitals want redundancy in capacity and have demands that exceed a single generator, they often use paralleling switchgear, says Nicole Dierksheide, director of category large engine power systems at Kohler Co., Kohler, Wis. “Kohler offers paralleling switchgear that meets hospital code requirements and adds flexibility for a choice of parallel controls (on the generator or in the switchgear) so the site can achieve the exact solution required.”

Also, hospitals must run tests on generator equipment and record the data. “To that end, Kohler offers the APM603 generator controller, which provides control, system monitoring and system diagnostics for a single generator set or system paralleling multiple generator sets,” Dierksheide says. Data can be logged from hundreds of data points — covering parameters such as voltage, frequency, percent load, oil pressure and temperature. The data is automatically recorded from the controller to simplify and standardize collection.

ATS innovations

Generac Power Systems Inc. has introduced several additions to its line of TX Series ATSs. “With the addition of 600-, 800- and 1,000-ampere service and non-service entrance transfer switches, Generac’s TX Series now provides solutions within an amperage of 600 and 1,200 and some of the highest withstand and closing ratings in the industry,” Honl says. The switches are rated for full-load transfers in mission critical, emergency and optional power systems. Modular design and removable panels facilitate installation.

EPSS are critical to the safety of patients in a growing number of smaller, off-site medical facilities. Many of these facilities now require an emergency power supply, such as a generator with a bypass isolation transfer switch. These smaller facilities often have a single generator, which requires a means to connect temporary generators during outages for maintenance or service.

To help meet this need, ASCO Power Technologies, Scottsdale, Ariz., a subsidiary of Schneider Electric, recently expanded its 300 Series line of manual transfer switches with integrated quick-connect panels. “If the facility’s permanent generator is down for service or maintenance, these devices provide a safe and reliable means of switching to the temporary generator system,” says Shannon Dynge, director of strategy and pricing. 

Cummins Power Systems recently introduced the X-Series transfer switch and B Series bypass-isolation transfer switch products. “They have the highest UL-certified fault current ratings in the industry,” says Tim Beaucage, product manager for switching technologies. Both products are equipped with a PC80 transfer switch control, which features a color LED backlit display, integral power quality monitoring, detailed diagnostics and built-in network communication.

Eaton Corp., Cleveland, offers a bypass-isolation ATS that allows routine testing, inspection and maintenance to be performed on equipment without disrupting facility operations. To improve worker safety, the ATS, automatic bypass switch and electrical control components are housed in separate steel compartments. The control compartment is equipped with a means to electrically isolate the space from the system and control voltage prior to maintenance, thus mitigating shock hazards.

To optimize equipment uptime, Eaton’s ATC-900 controller has been enhanced with two new features: ATS Health and Maintenance Watch. “ATS Health reports equipment condition to facility service personnel who can assess operational risk and plan for maintenance,” says Charlie Hume, product manager. “Maintenance Watch issues automated notifications and task guidance to perform regular test, inspection and maintenance based on NFPA 110.” 

Within the past 15 years, Russelectric, Hingham, Mass., a Siemens Business, has designed and passed UL 1008 testing on a full line of 30-cycle transfer switches and bypass/isolation switches, according to John Stark, product line manager. “The development of the Russelectric (RTS-30) 30-cycle-rated family of transfer switches and bypass/isolation switches was in response to [NFPA 70®] National Electrical Code® changes calling for selective coordination in the health care space, or, legally required standby systems.” The RTS-30 can seamlessly communicate ATS status with building management systems. They also can be web-enabled.

UPS introductions

Generac Power Systems has introduced a zero-emissions SBE Series of stationary battery energy-storage systems. It pairs with Generac’s line of gas and diesel generators for full-facility resilience during long-duration blackouts. It also pairs with on-site solar to help reduce carbon footprint and energy costs. The storage systems are available in energy capacities ranging from 200 to 1,000 kW-hours and can help reduce peak charges. 

Vertiv, Westerville, Ohio, has introduced the Liebert GXT5 Lithium-Ion UPSs. These rack/tower convertible UPS models protect against a wide range of power anomalies. They also include an integrated maintenance bypass, and allow for battery scaling with up to eight external battery cabinets. The 500-3,000 volt-ampere models include an internal battery. The company also has unveiled the Liebert ITA2, 8-10 kilovolt-ampere UPS system, which offers efficiency up to 96.5% in double conversion mode over a wide range of load conditions.

“The introduction of lithium-ion batteries as the backup power source for these UPS systems offers improvements in several areas,” says Gary Dennis, regional sales director and health care lead for Vertiv in North America. “Lithium batteries have higher power densities but lighter weights, allowing hospitals to either pack more power in the same footprint or reduce the footprint even further.”

Vycon Energy Inc., Chino, Calif., manufactures a direct current flywheel that works with all major double-conversion UPS system original equipment manufacturers to provide a safe, reliable and green alternative to chemical batteries, according to Carl Cullop, director of sales. “It can eliminate a potential fire risk and containment in critical applications. Flywheels also provide for a lower total cost of ownership and fewer maintenance requirements.”

Advances ahead?

Apple predicts that more precise controls and the use of alternative fuels in hospitals will continue to advance. “Both will play a more critical role as net zero technologies and zero-emission solutions are implemented into these applications,” he says. “Rolls-Royce has developed its next generation control system, mtu EnergetIQ, which controls assets and can be optimized for a number of factors.”

Dierksheide sees a continued shift to cleaner and more efficient emergency power sources. 

“Kohler is working on a hydrogen fuel cell application for a hospital that can be used as a prime or backup power source or as part of a distributed energy network that can export power to the grid,” she says. “Fuel cells that use green hydrogen produce no emissions at the point of use, so such systems can ultimately provide a pathway to net zero.”

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Customized power control systems with SCADA enable users to control reliable power, monitor system operation, and review set points and alarm history. Russelectric

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Double-conversion online UPS solutions protect against a wide range of power anomalies. Vertiv

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This distributed energy management software platform enables facilities to monetize their microgrids. Caterpillar Inc.

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This flywheel works with major double-conversion UPS system OEMs. Vycon Energy Inc.

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The KD4000 diesel generator meets the need for larger load demands in hospitals, with a standby range of 4000/5000 kW/kVA. Kohler Co.

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The enhanced bypass isolation ATS permits the ATS or automatic bypass switch to be drawn out and isolated within its compartment for routine testing. Eaton Corp.

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SBE series pairs with gas and diesel generators for full-facility resilience during long-duration blackouts and pairs with on-site solar to help reduce carbon footprint and energy costs. Generac Power Systems Inc.

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The mtu Kinetic PowerPack is a UPS system that combines the diesel engine and battery backup of a static UPS system into one package in which the immediate response is provided by kinetic energy. Rolls-Royce Solutions America

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The Series 300 MTDQ manual transfer switch with dual-purpose quick connects provides an economical way to connect a standby generator or load bank to a building’s power distribution system. ASCO Power Technologies

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Centum Series generators are engineered to meet hospitals’ precise power needs with high-efficiency engines that fit in a small footprint. Cummins Power Systems

Neal Lorenzi is a Mundelein, Ill.-based contributor to Health Facilities Management.