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Test Backup Power Systems for Critical Services

Current public health concerns will make the availability of critical power more important than ever. Testing backup power systems is the best way to ensure power will be available in an emergency.

Healthcare Facilities

From a patient’s perspective, any emergency visit to a hospital is a crisis. Responding services always depend on reliable electrical power. For facility managers, the increasing patient loads now being experienced at medical facilities are raising the stakes to another level.

Even areas with highly reliable power supply grids are susceptible to occasional power interruptions and anomalies such as transient over-voltages (“surges”) that can impact sensitive medical equipment. Extreme weather events can disrupt power transmission at any time. That's why it is important for healthcare facilities to ensure the reliability of backup power systems. These facilities include hospitals and urgent care clinics as well as diagnostic laboratories that test specimens from patients and research laboratories seeking vaccines. Power disruptions could result in process interruptions and data loss that cost precious time. Even new patient screening and quarantine facilities will need power protection to operate continuously and maintain patient welfare.

If a facility loses power because backup systems fail, it could lead to decisions such as, “Do we keep our vaccine refrigerator running, or do we keep the community’s electronic health care records online?” Now is the time to review the status of backup power systems. Consider the following:
  • Does your facility have enough backup power to keep critical systems running during an outage?
  • Will your uninterruptible power supply systems keep critical equipment – from computers to MRI machines – up and running until generators come online?
  • Will engine-generators start and perform as designed and as needed?
  • Will switchgear reliably transfer loads to alternative power sources and back again?
Testing power systems can identify problems and assure readiness before a crisis occurs. In North America and Europe, regulations require regular testing of emergency power supply systems as detailed in this post by ASCO’s parent company, Schneider Electric. It explains how periodic power assessments can verify the adequacy of backup power systems as well as surge suppression equipment, power routing diversity, connector integrity, and more. Testing backup systems under conditions that simulate an actual outage is best practice. For many facilities, it’s required by regulation.

Mission-Critical Operations

Other types of facilities perform critical functions. Data Centers provide essential communication and financial transaction services. Government-run emergency call centers rely on power to coordinate response to public safety events. Cell tower facilities for mobile communications require emergency power. Key businesses require the power to serve the public when needs are critical. Article 708.6(B) of the 2020 National Electrical Code® (Get free access here) requires facilities providing services that have been designated as essential to public safety and security to have and test backup power systems. If your facility relies on power for mission-critical functions, now is the best time to review the status of your testing program and get answers to the questions above.

For additional information, technical support, or on-site assistance, contact ASCO Power Technologies.

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