Regardless of the industry in which you work, consistent power is a necessity to ensure the business is uninterrupted. In the health care industry, this becomes even more critical due to the services it performs. Mechanical ventilators and other powered support equipment are just some of the things that require uninterrupted electricity to save lives, but even non-life-support systems, such as lighting and air conditioning, are essential to run a hospital or clinic smoothly.
Load banks help ensure health care facilities are never caught unawares in a utility outage. Backup generators are essential, but you need to make sure they’re working as expected. Even primary power generators can benefit from load bank testing and load augmentation to ensure the best performance.
Load Bank Utilization in Health Care Facilities
Emergency generators for health care facilities are crucial for sustaining life-saving work, but these generators require regular maintenance, including load bank testing. Because a standby generator needs to be ready to go in a power outage, it is critical to understand their performance before a utility failure occurs.
The age of the generator is one reason regular maintenance is mandatory, but changes in power requirements also require regular load bank testing. For health care facilities, where patient well-being and protection are of the utmost importance, a backup generator failing to work cannot be an option for safety reasons.
Hospitals often have a permanently installed stationary load banks used for regular monthly exercises. This approach is often more economical than renting frequently.
The type of load bank used will also vary, depending on the desired type of testing. There are several common types of load banks:
- Resistive: This type of load bank can test at a power factor of 1.0 and often is conducted at the generators rated kW capacity.
- Reactive: Using a capacitor or an inductor, this type of load bank presents leading or lagging power factor loads. This can beneficial in simulating certain types of building equipment.
- Combined Resistive-Reactive: Most common is resistive-reactive load bank uses a combination of resistors and inductors to achieve a 0.80 power factor.
Load Bank Testing for Hospitals
Load bank testing for health care facilities allows them to rest assured that, in an emergency, their backup generators can handle the full facility power needs required to maintain operations as needed. But load banks are for more than testing the standby generator — or the main power source. Health care load banks can help prolong the life of generators by ensuring they are worked to their full capacity regularly. Underuse can shorten the life of a generator due to unused fuel and oil, and condensation can cause a condition called wet-stack. And since power outages aren’t a regular occurrence — or planned — standyby generators at health care facilities likely aren’t being used to their full capacity all the time.
Whether it’s a health care facility or another business, load bank testing is always a good idea for generators. Load banks mimic what the actual demand for power will be, revealing any controls or switch panels that may not be working as they should. This is why generators are load bank tested when they’re installed, and while many industries don’t require frequent testing, certain industries cannot afford to endanger clients. However, it’s important to note that load testing doesn’t simply test the generator at its highest capacity alone. Instead, it tests the generator at various load conditions, allowing for a well-rounded report on the generator’s capabilities.
Changes to a health care building are inevitable, and some of those changes — such as upgrades in the HVAC system — will change the building’s power profile. While these changes may not mean anything, they could also disrupt a backup generator’s ability to perform. Luckily, regular load bank tests can monitor these changes without risking the safety of the staff, patients and visitors.
So while load bank applications in health care are considered part of a generator’s general maintenance, they’re also excellent for preventative maintenance to help prolong the life of the generator as well as to prevent the chances of a hospital backup generator failure.
Why Are Load Banks Preferred for a Health Care Facility?
Hospital power outages may not be a common occurrence, but they can be devastating, which is why hospitals and health care facilities have large emergency power generators that can power the entire facility, from the emergency room to the cafeteria. These facilities must also abide by hospital backup generator regulations, including standards from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others.
The Joint Commission is responsible for auditing and accrediting thousands of national health care organizations. To be accredited, health care facilities must abide by its guidelines, one of which requires specific generator testing to be performed annually as well as monthly. Losing accreditation from the Joint Commission could bar health care facilities and hospitals from payers like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In addition to that, the National Electrical Code’s Article 700 is designed to help ensure health care facilities maintain emergency generators to keep them reliable in case they are needed. One of its points is defining what would be considered an emergency load to help limit it to power only those appliances that are necessary to help save human lives.
Let Load Banks Direct Help Test Your Generator
At Load Banks Direct, we want to help customers solve any challenging testing problems by providing them with customized support and solutions. We offer fast and accurate technical, application and product support, and we design and manufacture our load banks to withstand even the harshest environment, using only top-quality materials.
We realize that every industry is different, which is why we’re dedicated to offering curated service so you get the solutions you’re seeking.
Whether you’re looking to buy or rent, Load Banks Direct is here to help. Get in touch to request a free quote today.
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