Providing the right UPS environment within a healthcare estate

Healthcare estate managers seeking advice on how to integrate their UPSs into their  facility’s environment can find help within The Department of Health’s ‘Health Technical Memorandum 06-01’ (HTM 06-01). This document covers electrical services supply and distribution. It gives guidance to healthcare estate managers on providing safer, more resilient electrical systems within their premises that support the requirements of regulators and ensure a safe environment for patients and staff.

The document considers UPSs as integral parts of the power distribution system; its advice covers environmental factors affecting UPSs and their batteries. It points out, for example, that for retrofit designs into existing buildings, desktop designs – while appearing the optimum solution – may not work due to space limitations, lack of alternative supplies, weight limits on structured floors or other reasons. A bespoke design should be considered, to provide the best solution. Modular systems, which can be installed into limited space, yet scaled to support future load growth, offer a useful solution in this environment.

In all cases, designers should consider the local space and location of the UPS in terms of floor loading, access for maintenance, heat generated, and room conditions such as dust and proximity to wet services, especially if located above. All these conditions may affect equipment life, reliability and resilience. Even the most efficient double-conversion UPSs will radiate a small percentage of their input power as heat; this must be vented, preferably naturally.

Battery care is also essential

HTM 06-01 covers UPS batteries, and favours Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VRLA) types. Being virtually zero-gassing, they present a lower environmental hazard to the UPS and its surrounding area. They are low-maintenance items with reduced requirements for vented gas extraction. Although these batteries will function for a short time over a wide temperature range – typically from -15°C to +50°C – their ambient temperature should be kept as close as possible to +20°C. Otherwise, life expectancy will be reduced considerably; typically to 50 per cent at 30°C and 25 per cent at 40°C.

With continued operation at high temperatures, these batteries can also become a fire hazard as the casing can split causing acid to spill, causing possibly uncontrolled battery DC earth faults. It is therefore essential that the battery’s environment has ventilation/cooling sufficient  to maximise battery life.

Consideration should be given to monitoring the temperature (remote alarm) of the environment in locations containing batteries, allowing rapid response to any problem.

Correct charging of batteries is also very important; therefore, any charger should meet appropriate standards and conform with the battery manufacturer’s requirements.

More in-depth advice: the KUP UPS Handbook

The document also states that environmental conditions should control the room space to the limits recommended by the manufacturer. KUP addresses this both through specifications provided with each UPS system it offers, and more broadly through its UPS Handbook. Now on Edition 5, this Handbook, available from KUP, includes a section on environmental considerations. Humidity and audible noise as well as heat considerations are addressed, along with advice on transporting a UPS to site and then positioning it into a suitable location. Depending on the UPS size, this could be in an office, computer room, UPS room, or existing plant room.

Additionally, the Handbook covers battery health factors including their storage, care, maintenance and monitoring.

From the Handbook, and the HTM 06-01 Memorandum, it’s clear that providing the right environment is essential to UPS and battery reliability and longevity. It’s also important to manage any impact the system may have on its environment. However, success equally depends on selecting components of good quality and well-suited to their application – and then setting up a maintenance strategy to sustain optimum performance.

Accordingly, it always pays to discuss your UPS installation requirements with a supplier like KUP, which has the width and depth of product range, expertise, and nationwide service coverage essential for assuring that all of these factors are in place.

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