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Healthcare facilities depend on having uninterrupted power to run life-saving equipment, as well as to protect critical electronic data. Uninterruptable power supply (UPS) systems provide immediate, short-term backup power before emergency generators start.  

In modern healthcare facilities, a reliable, constant power supply is essential to all aspects of day-to-day operations. Doctors, nurses and technicians need to have access to everything from medical equipment to electronic patient data at any moment, and hospitals put special systems in place to safeguard the power supply against interruptions.

Healthcare facilities have robust emergency power systems with generators to supply power to equipment and functions within 10 seconds of a power outage. But even one second of interruption can be too long if it threatens to shut down critical equipment or an entire network – which is why hospitals rely on uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, for short-term power ride-through.

A UPS system offers instant, though temporary, backup power to support the load and protect operations until emergency backup generators begin working. There are two main types of UPS systems: flywheel UPS and battery UPS. A flywheel UPS unit uses the kinetic energy of a spinning rotary disk to provide power for brief periods of time. A battery UPS system stores energy and converts it to short-term electrical power.

Hospitals often use flywheel systems to provide uninterruptible power to sensitive equipment, such as X-rays and MRI and CT scanners. Flywheel units protect equipment from power surges that might occur when transferring from one source to another, ensuring continuity of care for patients. They also can be used to maintain constant power in operating rooms during an outage or a generator test.

For data protection, healthcare facilities tend to rely on battery UPS systems because flywheel systems have a much shorter ride-through than batteries. If a hospital’s emergency generators failed to start right away after the flywheel UPS, its entire network could be in danger of shutting down.

There are other important differences between the flywheel and battery systems; healthcare facilities must weigh the benefits and drawbacks carefully.

Runtime

A battery UPS system has the capacity to sustain a load for a significantly longer time than a flywheel system – for example, 20 minutes versus 20 seconds.

Cost

A flywheel system requires a higher initial cost than a battery system. However, batteries must be tested, maintained and replaced over the years, processes that lead to higher lifetime expenses.

Space

A battery UPS system necessitates considerably more space than a flywheel UPS.

Environmental Impact

A flywheel system creates a smaller environmental footprint than a battery system. It contains no hazardous materials, while a battery system has toxic chemicals that must be handled and disposed of according to safety regulations. Flywheels also generate less heat in operation and require less cooling and ventilation.