Though closely related, a typical uninterruptable power supply you can find online or at your local big box retailer is not what a true medical-grade battery backup system is. Though they both utilize batteries to provide power to your appliance—the type of batteries deployed, storage capacities, power throughput capabilities and general value provided could not be anymore different. So below we’re going to breakdown the features of each.
Pros and Cons of a Consumer UPS
Small, compact, and very inexpensive—consumer-grade UPS systems and "standby generators" pose a seemingly fantastic value proposition when compared to industrial solutions. However, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that you could easily find at a big-box retailer or online store will have neither the power to start your appliances, nor the storage capacity to provide power for any meaningful amount of time—making them have ZERO true value, as they won’t be able to truly backup any appliances with significant energy demands.
For example, while the most powerful and expensive system we could find at a big box store online maybe offers enough power to possibly start certain appliances, its battery life is only around 10 percent of the smallest, most affordable battery generator option offered by MediProducts. And, at 11.2% of the cost, provides less power on a dollar-for-dollar basis than any of our offerings—making them a much worse value.
Pros and Cons of a Battery Backup System
In short, leave the consumer-oriented products to provide backup power for TVs, computers and other appliances that won’t affect patient care.
Battery Backup Power is increasingly becoming a popular option across the entire medical and laboratory fields to ensure operations can continue in an emergency outage situation. While presenting a larger upfront cost than alternative solutions, battery backup units provide both great long-term and short-term value for the end user.
Upon purchase, many battery backup units provide plug-and-play power in a variety of form factors—that is, they can be deployed immediately upon delivery, with no installation, building permits or set up required. However, like gas generators many also provide the option to be integrated directly into your building’s circuits—though unlike gas, batteries allow for they can be placed inside your facility due to their lack of exhaust fumes—thus providing an indoor generator solution in it's stead.
Over the long-term, battery backup units generally require very little maintenance, as their lack of moving mechanical parts eliminates most wear-and-tear, and because they derive their energy from the utility power of your facility, minimally add to your electricity bill in instances where they recharge. Additionally, because of their internal transfer switches they can provide instant power—where gas and diesel generators sometimes take as much as 15 minutes to engage.
Where battery units see their highest costs however, is in replacing the batteries. Due to the degradation of battery cells over time, to retain the same power output and runtime you’ll need to replace them per the manufacturers recommended interval. For example, MediProducts recommends you replace the sealed lead acid batteries in our systems every 4 years for optimal performance—generally at a cost of 20% of the original purchase price.
While able to be expanded to fit the needs of your facility, batteries by their nature aren’t small or light weight. So, for larger scale power needs (over 60 kWh) battery power may begin to provide diminishing returns due to the amount of space and cost required to house a system of this magnitude. However, all the same benefits that appear in smaller units (instant power delivery, no wear and tear, etc.) still exist.
If your facility is seeking to provide critical backup power for your healthcare facility in areas that directly effect the ability for physicians and staff to provide quality care for patients—then using a medical-grade battery backup unit is a no-brainer.
There exists probably no UPS system that would be able to meet the standards set forth by an accrediting body and qualify as a Type 1, Type 2 or Type 3 Essential Electrical System (EES). However, if you need to deploy backup power solutions for digital workstations, administrative computers or other equipment like that, then a consumer oriented UPS could be what you seek to use in your facility due to their small size and low price.