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Onan: Backup Power in Hospitals

JohnnyC

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
03/18/2020
As this covid-19 pandemic is a HUGE problem here in the New York metropolitan area as well as other populated areas in the USA. Hospitals are flooded beyond capacity. Space is critical and in some areas beds are stuffed into areas where normally beds are found. I hear on TV that "ventilators" are life savers for those in serious and critical condition. I wonder how much current a ventilator uses along with other life saving devices required for each person?

I assume major hospitals have big-azz generators for electrical backup which are appropriately designed for critical circuits in selected areas such as ICU/CCU and surgical rooms as well as certain patient wards in the hospital were patients are recovering on life supporting machines. What about other areas in the hospitals that are now being used for the overflow of covid-19 patients on ventilators where maybe the only backup power might be for emergency lighting? Do you think that emergency backup power for all the ventilators and other life saving equipment was a thought? I would assume to provide last minute electrical changes for backup power would be a big undertaking in the electrical closets. If changes were made to distribute backup electrical power to areas that previously had none, I wonder if the hospital's standby generators could become overloaded if grid power cuts out. Power outages do happen, hospitals do have backup power and it is a scary thought if grid power went out and if for one reason or another the hospitals went dark.

JohnnyC
New Jersey
 

cornbinder89

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
05/11/2020
I had a neighbor who was a fireman in a hospital, ran the boilers and generator. It had coolant and oil pumps keeping temp up and ready to go. The Vents don't draw a whole lot of current.
If things get real bad in the general population, keeping enough fuel coming for a prolonged outage would be more likely to be a problem than not enough power.
 

Billy J Shafer

Subscriber
Age
69
Last Subscription Date
09/03/2019
When I retired. The law in Texas said a hospital unit. Must be up and on line in ten seconds.Sounds impossible but it can be done. I know in real life it may take a little longer. But longer than a minute and you are in trouble. They must be run once a week under load once a month.You must have a log book on site an up to date.Any hospital and nursing home. Must have a record of all generator operations. The state inspector can drop in at any time.
 

cornbinder89

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
05/11/2020
The one I was visiting, heated the emergency ramp with electricity, had a built in load bank!
 

armandh

Sponsor
Last Subscription Date
09/02/2010
several years ago the St Louis air port had a power failure and the generators failed too
located in st Louis county, it is run by the St Louis city [a separate county] politicians.
years ago they expanded runways only to have the landing costs go from near lowest to near highest
lots of unused capacity, there are no takers for the, some times floated, privatization rumors.
 
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Birken Vogt

Email NOT Working
Current production Kohler generators are on line in 10 seconds. Installing them regularly around here due to the summer safety outages.

Drop power. 3 second crank delay. About 4 seconds for engine to crank, pick up vapor fuel and reach full speed. 3 more seconds of qualifying/stabilizing generator power and then the transfer switch moves. That is if the engine starts right away, which they almost always do. If there is a hiccup in cranking or whatever it might take a little longer. The timers are adjustable so it could be shortened slightly.

Diesels start faster of course because they are not dependent on air flow through a venturi to pick up fuel. They are injecting fuel the first stroke.

One fire station has a Kohler 22.5RZ with the White/Continental engine installed new 1983 or so. All the time delays in the switch were optional except retransfer to utility. So they did not buy any of the other options. That one the only thing holding the starter from cranking at any time is the AC relay. Drop power for any time and the starter begins its work. All the relays in their relaxed position are transferring to generator so as soon as the generator is up to whatever voltage it takes to move the transfer switch, it moves. No time delays in there whatsoever. No cooldown either.

Not the most graceful method, but it has been working for nearly 40 years with minor repairs.
 

K-Tron

Registered
Our local hospital, Huntington Hospital, had three backup 3MW 900rpm EMD powered generators a few years ago. I am not sure if they replaced them during renovation. With power backup like that, they certainly mean business.

Chris
 

Zephyr7

Registered
The “10 second” rule for generators is in the electric code. If you’re genset can complete the entire cycle form utility failure through loads energized on generator power in 10 seconds or less, you don’t need battery backup for your emergency lights per code. Pretty much all commercial gensets can start and get up to speed in under 10 seconds because of this rule.

Hospitals are covered under the “legally required standby systems”. They are required to run weekly runs (30 minutes I think it is), and monthly loaded runs WITH TRANSFER TESTS in most cases. They are also required to have I believe 7-8 days of runtime at full load, so a lot of fuel. I forget the exact number of days they are required to have since I don’t work with hospitals much, but it’s a lot more than the 48 hour standard used in the telecom industry. It might be 10 days. It’s a good amount of time.

Many hospitals just backup everything — the entire hospital, so all circuits are backed up. Other hospitals will backup selected circuits and lighting, in which case the backed up outlets are color coded (usually red), and sometimes only labeled if they’re in non-critical areas. The usual designation for backed up stuff is to have an “E” in the circuit number, for “emergency”.

Most of the hospital gizmos I’ve seen use little power, maybe an amp or two tops. I doubt very much a bunch of ventilators is going to push any hospitals generator over the edge. I’d be more concerned with the hospitals running out of space and ventilators being connected in areas that may not have enough backed up outlets in hospitals that don’t just backup everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ventilators have a built-in battery backup either. Integrated Battery backup is common to make it easy for them to move patients around, and to cover the time between an outage and generator transfer.

I doubt very much were going to get to a point where we see utility disruption due to COVID infections though.

Bill
 

blousteau

Registered
Orange outlets have a dedicated ground wire to reduce interference. ( Since we are on the topic of outlet colors. ) They are also found all over hospitals / nursing homes / data centers.
 

Vanman

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/10/2019
Every room in every hospital I have been in has had a proliferation of emergency circuits (red switches and receptacles).

The one hospital I worked in was in the finishing stages of their power plant. It consisted of 5 Cat generator sets. I believe they were V-16s, 2500 kW each? Thereabouts.

Had a beautiful set of switchgear to parallel the sets with each other and the utility for peak load shaving.

All this stuff was still only 480 volt, so there was an enormous amount of big wire.

I recall each engine had a 2500 watt jacket water heater on each side. Not sure how much they had to run to keep them warm, but it was all indoors and in Southern California by the beach, so never cold.

Don’t recall how much fuel they had on site, but I’m sure it was a lot!

This was twenty years ago. Of course equipment like that should still be in service, but this is Criminalfornia, where the criminals in charge think they have the right to enact RETROACTIVE laws. So multi millions of dollars worth of infrastructure might have been thrown away because of the tiny amount of pollution they create during their once per week testing. Or, maybe they’re still there!

Keith
 
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Zephyr7

Registered
Orange outlets have a dedicated ground wire to reduce interference. ( Since we are on the topic of outlet colors. ) They are also found all over hospitals / nursing homes / data centers.
It’s actually the green triangle on the face of the receptacle that denotes an isolated ground (separate ground wire for the receptacles ground contact that goes all the way back to the serving panel), not the orange color of the receptacle itself. Isolated ground receptacles do tend to usually be orange as well, but it’s not the color that identifies the circuit as an isolated ground circuit.

The isolated ground is to keep the signal ground separate from the shared safety ground (the conduit, electrical box, etc). Usually the isolated ground wire will be green with a yellow stripe. This used to be common for communications equipment for less noise. It’s rarely used today. Data centers rarely use it either these days.

Bill
 

Zephyr7

Registered
Keith, when I spec generator rooms for large facilities, I usually put in a small electric unit heater or two for supplemental heat, but the block heaters alone are usually enough to heat the entire generator room to around 50F or so even on pretty cold days. 2500 and 4000 watt block heaters are not uncommon on the larger gensets, often with two block heaters on V engines — one for each cylinder bank.

Bill
 

Frank DeWitt

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
12/17/2019
It’s actually the green triangle on the face of the receptacle that denotes an isolated ground (separate ground wire for the receptacles ground contact that goes all the way back to the serving panel), not the orange color of the receptacle itself. Isolated ground receptacles do tend to usually be orange as well, but it’s not the color that identifies the circuit as an isolated ground circuit.

The isolated ground is to keep the signal ground separate from the shared safety ground (the conduit, electrical box, etc). Usually the isolated ground wire will be green with a yellow stripe. This used to be common for communications equipment for less noise. It’s rarely used today. Data centers rarely use it either these days.

Bill
They are some times used for sound system power to prevent ground loop problems.
 

BigBlockChev

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
07/06/2019
At BC ChildrensHospital our 1.3Mw MTU sets had dual 9Kw block heaters on each set ,most of the other sets were similar with smaller ones being 4.5Kw. Canadian electrical code requires gensets connected to life safety equipment to be able to start and be able to supply stable power within 10 seconds. Our sets could meet this easily and the set which supplied our steam plant a 240Kw Cummins unit would be online in as little as 4 seconds. Our hospital was completed in 1982 though a substantial portion was added in the early 2000s and some later. We had 3 electrical busses depending on which building you were in. there was an Normal bus, an Essential bus and a delayed Essential bus the last two being connected to coordinated automatic transfer switches to prevent overloading the gens with everything starting at once. The thing we struggled with was the distribution networks not having enough capacity to power everything on emergency. Our normal summer load was around 7MW and we had around that in generating capacity. Some buildings were 100% emergency and 100% normal distribution. But some which did not house life safety equipment only had limited emergency available. Outlets in critical areas were Red if emergency White if normal and Orange if delayed essential if I remember correctly. Most buidings had 600V distribution internally, some older buildings were at 4160V and sitewide distibution was at 12.5Kv. Cheers Dan
 
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