Backup Power for Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

Explore the importance of uninterrupted power in hospitals. Discover the backup power generation solutions that mitigate power disruptions & support critical healthcare functions.

Close up of doctor in a medical facility


In healthcare, the well-being of patients and the efficacy of life-saving equipment are paramount and a seamless and uninterrupted power supply is essential for saving lives. Hospitals and healthcare services rely on a constant flow of power to maintain patient care, operate critical medical devices, safeguard data, and preserve medications and vaccines. However, the vulnerability of power grids poses a significant challenge. To address these vulnerabilities, hospitals and health services have turned to backup power systems. Let’s learn about the critical role that backup power plays in safeguarding the health and well-being of patients and the seamless operation of healthcare services.


What Causes Power Disruptions in Hospitals?

Hospitals depend on a reliable and uninterrupted power supply to maintain patient care, operate essential life-saving equipment, and safeguard sensitive medical data. However, the complexity and vulnerability of power systems within healthcare facilities can render them susceptible to various factors that may disrupt the critical flow of electricity. This is especially true in rural areas that may be more prone to power outages and might not have adequate backup systems. If a power disruption occurs, patients might not have quick access to alternative medical facilities. Here are the most common culprits that can lead to power interruptions in hospitals:


Medical facility powered with propane

Why Backup Power is Critical for Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities

In the intricate ecosystem of healthcare, where every second counts and patient well-being is the priority, the presence of a reliable propane backup power system is more than just a convenience—it’s a necessity. Unlike grid-dependent electricity, propane generators are highly reliable, providing an immediate response to power loss. Propane’s high energy density means these generators can run longer, ensuring continuity in patient care and hospital functions. 


By integrating propane generators, hospitals significantly mitigate the following risks and increase their resilience against unforeseen power interruptions.


Continuous Power for Diagnostics and Machines - Healthcare facilities are bustling hubs of activity, with numerous departments and services operating concurrently. From surgeries to diagnostic imaging laboratory tests to emergency care, the smooth operation of these services is essential.

Backup power systems guarantee that healthcare professionals can continue their work seamlessly, maintaining the continuum of care for patients without interruption.


Data Protection and Electronic Health Records - In today’s digital age, hospitals rely heavily on electronic health records (EHRs) and advanced healthcare information systems. These systems store critical patient data, treatment plans, and medical histories. Backup power ensures that these systems remain accessible, preserving patient records and preventing data loss. This not only facilitates patient care but also adheres to privacy regulations.


Medication and Vaccine Preservation - Hospitals store a vast array of medications and vaccines, many of which require precise temperature control to maintain their efficacy. Backup power systems, often integrated with temperature monitoring, ensure that medications and vaccines remain at the correct temperature, preventing spoilage and ensuring that patients receive effective treatments.


Emergency Lighting - During power outages, maintaining visibility within the hospital becomes crucial for patient care and the safety of both patients and staff. Backup power systems provide emergency lighting that illuminates critical areas, such as corridors, operating rooms, and patient rooms, ensuring that healthcare professionals can navigate and provide care effectively.


Rapid Emergency Response - In emergencies, whether natural disasters, accidents, or other unforeseen events, rapid response is essential. Backup power systems kick in automatically, eliminating the delay associated with power restoration and allowing healthcare professionals to focus on patient care and emergency response.


Preservation of Patient Care - Perhaps the most critical benefit of backup power in hospitals is the preservation of patient safety. Many medical devices and life-support systems rely on a consistent power supply to function optimally. Without power, these devices could fail, putting patients’ lives at risk. Backup power systems ensure that critical life-saving equipment remains operational, providing continuous care to patients, even during power outages.


Types of Backup Power Systems

Hospitals and healthcare facilities rely on backup power systems which are meticulously designed to ensure the seamless operation of critical functions during power disruptions. Propane stands out as a particularly advantageous option. While all generator fuels have their pros and cons, propane offers a unique combination of lower emissions, reliability and versatility, making it an increasingly preferred choice for modern healthcare settings. Here are the types of backup power systems commonly employed:


Propane Generators

Role - Propane generators serve as a versatile and efficient backup power system, providing a dependable source of emergency power. While the propane is typically supplied by a tank stored on-site near the generator unit, it's also possible to have the tank located remotely from the generator.


Advantages - Propane generators are known for their clean-burning properties and lower emissions compared to their diesel counterparts. They start reliably and provide steady power during outages. Propane generators operate quietly and efficiently,  with the added benefit of being suitable for a range of healthcare facility sizes. Propane can be stored safely and indefinitely in a propane tank without degradation, making propane power generators a dependable choice in diverse settings. Propane typically costs less per litre than diesel.


Considerations - Propane is stored-on-site in external propane tanks to ensure fuel is readily available to meet power generation needs in an emergency.


Inside of a commercial propane power generator

Diesel Generators

Role - Diesel generators are commonly used as emergency power sources in healthcare facilities.

- Diesel generators are chosen for their ability to handle significant power loads. They are known for a quick start-up capability during outages and are available in various sizes to suit different needs.


Considerations - Diesel generators have higher emissions, requiring strict compliance with emissions regulations. Over time, stored diesel can degrade and become less efficient. Additionally, diesel generators are notably louder, posing a noise concern. Maintenance frequency of diesel generators can be typically more demanding compared to generators using other fuels. 


Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Systems

Role -
An uninterruptible power supply unit is battery operated and has the property to store electricity and provide a consistent high surge DC current to a UPS system which converts it to a stabilized AC current.


Advantages - They offer instantaneous power to protect sensitive equipment during brief outages.


Considerations -  Limited in power capacity and duration, making them less suitable for prolonged outages. Propane generators complement UPS systems by providing a more extended, reliable power source when needed.


Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS)

Role - Battery Energy Storage Systems store electrical energy in batteries for use during outages.


Advantages -  Known for quick response, suitable for immediate backup power needs and scalable.


Considerations - The capacity and duration of BESS systems are limited based on battery size. They require periodic battery maintenance and replacement. The cost can also be higher than other backup power systems.


Natural Gas Generators

Role - Natural gas generators use natural gas as fuel to produce electricity during power disruptions. The gas is usually pipeline-supplied.


Advantages - They are cleaner and more environmentally friendly than diesel generators, and often more reliable than diesel fuel.


Considerations -These generators may have slightly slower start-up times than other backup power systems. Also, the fuel supply is dependent on pipeline infrastructure, which can be disrupted. Propane generators offer a more secure and independent power source since propane can be stored onsite in commercial propane tanks, which ara available in multiple sizes, eliminating the need for a pipeline connection.


Solar Power with Battery Backup

Role - Solar power systems harness energy from the sun and store it in batteries for backup power.


Advantages - Environmentally friendly, reducing energy costs with battery backup for night and cloudy days. Solar generators work well as a dual system when paired with a propane generator, which emits the lowest amount of emissions out of all fossil fuels.


Considerations - While solar power generation is a sustainable choice, it is dependent on weather conditions. It requires an initial investment in solar panels and batteries. Additionally, integrating a backup fuel like propane is essential to ensure continuous power availability, especially when solar energy is insufficient to meet demand. This combination offers a reliable, uninterrupted power solution, balancing renewable energy with the consistency of propane.



Commercial propane tanks


Integrating Propane Backup Power Systems into Healthcare Facilities

The seamless integration of propane backup power systems into healthcare facilities is essential for maintaining critical operations during power disruptions. Chosen for its reliability and versatility, propane stands out as an ideal fuel for backup power generation. It offers key benefits such as cleaner combustion, lower operational costs, and ease of storage compared to other fuels. Hospitals and healthcare providers must thoughtfully plan and implement these systems to ensure a smooth transition when the primary power source fails. Here are key considerations for the integration of propane backup power systems:


  • Assess Power Needs - Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the facility’s power requirements, considering critical areas like operating rooms and intensive care units. Propane systems are advantageous as they allow for onsite fuel storage for extended periods without degradation, ensuring a consistent power supply.

  • Build in Redundancy - Healthcare facilities often opt for redundant propane backup power systems to enhance reliability. This redundancy, particularly with propane, is advantageous due to its lower emissions compared to traditional fuels like diesel, making it a more sustainable choice. If one propane system experiences issues or requires maintenance, another can seamlessly take over, ensuring uninterrupted power supply. The flexibility of propane allows for the integration of multiple generators or a combination of backup sources, including renewable energy, offering a resilient and adaptable solution for healthcare facilities. This approach not only ensures continuous power but also supports environmental goals.

  • Plan a Load Shedding Strategy - Implement a strategy to prioritize power distribution during outages, with a focus on critical areas. Propane backup systems are particularly valuable as they offer reliable power in instances where renewable energy sources are insufficient due to intermittency, capacity limitations, or environmental factors. When solar or wind energy production is low, for example, during cloudy or calm weather, propane systems can seamlessly provide the necessary energy, ensuring that healthcare facilities continue to operate smoothly without interruption.

  • Conduct Emergency Response Training and Drills - Staff training is a critical element of integration. Hospital personnel should be familiar with propane backup power systems, emergency procedures, and how to respond effectively during power disruptions. Regular drills and emergency response training ensure staff can act swiftly in critical situations. 

  • Conduct Regular Testing and Maintenance - Regular inspection and maintenance are crucial for the reliability and efficiency of propane backup power systems in healthcare facilities. These critical practices ensure system readiness, especially in emergency situations. For an added layer of proactive support, Superior Propane’s certified technicians perform a visual check of the propane system during every delivery. This ensures continuous monitoring and maintenance of system integrity. Additionally, Superior Propane's extensive network and proactive inventory management guarantee a secure and consistent supply, ensuring the most reliable propane deliveries. This combination of healthcare facilities' diligent system maintenance and Superior Propane’s comprehensive support ensures optimal performance of backup power systems.


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In the world of healthcare, where every moment counts, and the well-being of patients is paramount, the integration of reliable backup power systems is not just a choice; it’s a necessity. Superior Propane offers a clean and efficient energy source that is ideally suited for backup power generation. Whether you require propane generators, storage solutions, or expert guidance on integrating propane into your backup power systems, Superior Propane is your dedicated partner in safeguarding healthcare operations.


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