Caregiving leads to a selfless, rewarding life
Dean Mitchell

With power outages becoming more prevalent because of increasing catastrophic weather events and an aging power grid, standby power generation is a critical consideration for buildings of all typesIt becomes even more crucial for facilities that take care of vulnerable populations, such as healthcare and assisted-living facilities for the elderly.

“Standby power generators have emerged as a necessity at residential healthcare facilities across the U.S.,” says Nandini Sankara, a spokesperson for Suburban Propane, which operates in Florida and beyond. “From wildfires and hurricanes to winter storms and flooding, you never know when utility power will be compromised, and standby power generators will be needed to support lifesaving healthcare machines.”

In Florida, this necessity became law with the passage of SB 7028 and HB 7099 in March 2018, which were based on emergency rules the governor issued in 2017. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration declared the emergency rules following deaths at a senior living facility in the state that were attributed to power outages from Hurricane Irma.

The law mandates that senior living facilities must have emergency power sources that can keep temperatures at no more than 81 degrees for at least 96 hours. And nursing homes and larger assisted-living facilities must keep 72 hours of fuel on site, among other stipulations.

The case that led to the Florida law, and similar cases, even caught the attention of the U.S. Senate, which has investigated standby power requirements for these types of facilities, though nothing concrete has passed so far.

But regardless of government mandates, many healthcare and assisted-living facilities consider having standby power generation as simply the right thing to do.

Standby generators range in size from 10 kilowatts to 4,000 kilowatts to meet the needs of a variety of building sizes.
Geoff Johnson Standby generators range in size from 10 kilowatts to 4,000 kilowatts to meet the needs of a variety of building sizes.

“It’s imperative to include a backup generator on such facilities,” says Keith Wasula, a national account manager at generator maker Generac. “Number one for the safety and number two for the peace of mind, because during a storm or catastrophe or outage, there’s many people not only who are residing in that facility but family members in multiple states across the U.S., or the world, that are just worried. And with that peace of mind comes an overall peace.”

Picking the right fuel

One of the main decisions architects, engineers, and facilities managers must make for a facility’s standby power generation is the fuel.

Gaseous generators are cleaner burning and may be more appropriate in areas where emissions are a concern, says Amy Haese, product manager for generator manufacturer Kohler Power. Gaseous generators can run on both propane and natural gas, providing fuel redundancy and flexibility depending on what’s available.

“Propane generators can be sized to meet a variety of different demands depending upon the size of the healthcare facility,” Sankara says. “Compared to other fossil fuels, propane is energy efficient, clean-burning, and does not have a shelf life, making it the ideal fuel source for standby power generation.”

Diesel is another option, but it creates more polluting emissions, adds another level of maintenance, and goes bad without expensive and time-consuming maintenance. And it often requires additives and cleaning of the system. New emissions standards are also driving up the cost of these units. Visit to learn more about preparing your next healthcare project for a successful standby power installation, or visit Hanley Wood University to check out our Backup Power for Commercial Buildings on-demand CEU.