Lightning and Surge Protection for Hospitals

Lightning and Surge Protection for Hospitals

Created by: Glen Zhu | Updated Date: January 12th, 2024

Hospitals - Lightning and Surge Protection

Hospitals operate perpetual motion machines with 24-hour uninterruptible service to save people’s live and perform urgent medical treatments. There is no need elaborating the importance of hospitals, as it is self-evident.

The hospital is not merely a building but a wonderland of hope, advanced medical equipment and building technology is an absolute must since human lives directly depend on reliably functioning technology.

Image how power surge or direct lightning could damage a hospital, the consequence is more severe as human lives are invaluable, surpassing the significance of mere financial losses. That is the reason why preventive lightning and surge protection measures are so vital.

The protection measures are complicated, an effective protection concept consists of earthing, external lightning protection, equipotential bonding and surge protection. These measures are determined by the intricate systems of the hospital and its coordination requirements.

Lightning protection zone concept

The lightning protection zone is defined as outer zone and inner zone. The concept of lightning protection zone is an integral part of a structured approach to safeguarding buildings and their occupants from the destructive effects of lightning. LPZs are designated areas within a structure, each with a specific level of protection against lightning-related risks.

The hospital is a complex of interconnected systems and equipment, a strategic approach to design its lightning protection is imperative. The building is divided into zones with different risk potential, then determined where and which measures are required.

LPZ 0A and LPZ 0B refers to areas need external lightning protection where the threat is due to direct lightning strikes and side flashover. The rooftop areas of hospital buildings, along with antennas or masts and exterior walls, are defined as LPZ 0A and LPZ 0B.

Inner zones, LPZ 1 and LPZ 2 are protected against electromagnetic impulse and sensitive electrical equipment are protected by surge protective devices from damage.

These zones go beyond the immediate threat of lightning strikes, focusing on the protection of sensitive electrical equipment essential for the hospital’s operation.

Figure 1 – Lightning protection zone of a hospital

External lightning protection

IEC 62305 serves as a guiding framework for the key components of a comprehensive lightning protection system. At its core, a lightning protection system incorporates an air-terminal system strategically positioned on the roof, forming a vital connection to earth-terminals through down conductors.

Maintaining adequate separation distances is crucial to prevent side flashovers and potential sparking, ensuring the effective dissipation of lightning energy. In situations where maintaining the recommended distance proves challenging, employing high-voltage-resistant and insulated conductors emerges as a viable solution.

These specialized conductors not only navigate challenging spatial constraints but also contribute to the overall safety and efficiency of the lightning protection system. Following the principles outlined in IEC 62305 ensures a comprehensive and reliable lightning protection infrastructure.

Equipotential bonding

Equipotential bonding system must be observed to avoid potential difference which is usually achieved by connected all conductive parts to form the same potential level. It is important to integrate the equipotential bonding system with the overall lightning protection infrastructure especially during lightning events.

For hospitals, combined equipotential bonding systems are a safe and cost-effective earth-termination system for as long as the building stands. The foundation earth electrode is installed into the concrete foundations and covered by at least 5 cm of concrete to ensure corrosion protection.

The installation of the earthing system should take the soil resistivity, conductors’ materials, and corrosion protection into consideration as it is no longer possible to retrofit the construction once the concrete has done.

Surge protection

Figure 2 – Lightning and Surge protection of a hospital

Surge protection is always combined with comprehensive lightning protection system, the consequence of lightning would not stop at the outside of building, induced surge could be a headache for expensive medical equipment and modern building infrastructures.

Surge protection for hospitals should follow three-stage protection principle. That means type 1 surge protectors install at the entrance point into the building to safeguard the power supply. Type 2 surge protective devices aim to protect the downstream sub-distribution boards while all terminal devices are protected by type 3 surge protectors.

Interaction of the individual protection stages ensures the best possible protective effect, then the whole hospital could be greatly prevented from surge interferences. Surge protection of each aspect of a hospital is different based on the features of each system, the context would discuss the main systems in the hospitals.

Technical equipment and server rooms

In today’s digitally interconnected landscape, ensuring the security and continuous operation of technical equipment, particularly in server rooms, is paramount. The increasing reliance on interconnected technologies across various aspects of society necessitates a well-designed data infrastructure tailored to specific needs.

However, the interconnected nature of these systems also means that the failure of individual central components can potentially bring the entire system to a standstill.

The infrastructure of server rooms encompasses critical systems beyond server equipment, including Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), fire extinguishing and alarm systems, as well as air-conditioning and cooling systems.

Protection against surges and their associated consequences is imperative for the continuous and safe operation of these components. IEC 62305-4 provides guidelines for potential protective measures to minimize the risk of failure in electrical and electronic systems within a building.

A comprehensive protection strategy involves a combination of earthing, equipotential bonding, spatial shielding, cable routing/shielding, and the installation of coordinated surge protectors. Given its central significance, it is recommended to designate the server room as lightning protection zone 2 and design it as a Faraday cage.

All incoming and outgoing electrical lines should be safeguarded by surge protectors, ensuring a robust defense against potential failures and contributing to the overall resilience of the system.

Figure 3 – Surge protective devices for technical technologies and server rooms

The surge protection for a well-designed server room takes in to consideration factors such as power, cooling and network equipment to create a reliable and efficient environment for hosting critical IT infrastructure.

The power supply for the hospital is significant to support the well-functions of each system. Modern hospitals usually equipped with backup power supply, so SLP40-275/4S is installed to protect the power supply side and UPS system.

A PoE+ surge protector is recommended to protector the servers that process and store data, power strip surge protectors with multiple socket outlet are mounted on the server racks to protect the terminal devices from the unwanted surge.

Measuring and control systems / Building automation systems / Heating / air-conditioning / ventilation system

In hospitals, surge protection for measuring and control systems and building automation is crucial for precision, safety, and uninterrupted functionality. Measuring and control systems, vital for data accuracy and patient monitoring, require surge protectors as a first line of defense against voltage spikes.

Surge protection is equally vital for building automation systems, ensuring uninterrupted operation and preventing potential disruptions to environmental conditions crucial for patient well-being.

In addition to preventing immediate disruptions, surge protection contributes to equipment longevity and reduces the risk of unexpected downtime in hospitals. The strategic deployment of surge protection measures enhances the overall resilience of the hospital’s electrical infrastructure, ensuring a continuous and reliable power supply for a safer and more efficient healthcare environment.

Figure 4 – Overview of measuring and control systems in a hospital

Building automation systems within hospitals encompass a wide range of functions, including but not limited to heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation. However, their reliance on central power and data networks poses a vulnerability: inadequate protection may expose these components to lightning currents and surges.

IEC 60364-5-53 mandates separate surge arresters at the consumer level if the cable to the main surge protective device exceeds 10 meters.

Modern buildings heavily rely on interconnected technical building equipment systems, where sensors, interfaces, and actuators work together. A single component failure can disrupt the delicate balance, impacting the entire system’s functionality.

Therefore, a comprehensive surge protection approach is essential for modern technical building equipment installations. Individual component protection, as recommended by IEC 60364-5-53, is fundamental for building resilience and avoiding costly downtime and damage.

Type 2 & Type 3 Surge Protector Device

To protect the power side of measuring and control system and building automation in sub-distribution board, SLP40-275/4S should be installed. SLP40-600/3S with remote signaling contact for monitoring system is placed on ventilation motor fed by frequency converter.

It is also necessary to take surge protection measure to ensure the power supply to host computer and building control system. A type 3 surge protector is designed for protect terminal devices, TLP-255/2S is suggested. Additional surge protector for all installation system at terminal device level can be installed for the safety of power supply for terminal devices.

Whether measuring and control systems, building automation, heating/air-conditioning or ventilation system, holistic protection for data network is a must.

Surge Protector for MCR systems SRD2-24

SRD2-24 and SRD2-48 are supposed to mounted for the heating, gas and water measurement.

The temperature regulation, gas consumption and water flow are in need of real-time monitor and control, surge protection help avoid the malfunction of these infrastructure systems.

SRD2-24 is applicable for lighting control as well.

Surge Protector for MCR systems SRD2-24

Additionally, a surge protector for KNX system with minimal space requirement and intrinsically safe measuring circuits can be considered.

Fire safety systems

Hospitals are public places crowded with the large flow of people every day, hospital fire safety is a critical aspect of healthcare facility management, prioritizing the well-being of patients, staffs, and the preservation of valuable medical assets.

Fire protection equipment, particularly fire alarm systems, plays a pivotal role in ensuring the safety of occupants and preserving material assets within modern buildings. These systems are designed not only for fire detection, alarming, and evacuation but also for assuming control of other safety-related systems and equipment in the event of a fire.

Despite their critical functions, fire alarm systems are susceptible to damage caused by lightning strikes and voltage surges. In the absence of adequate protection, electrical and electronic components within these systems can experience irreparable harm.

This vulnerability extends beyond the immediate risk of equipment damage; it includes the potential for false alarms, production downtime, data loss, and even the necessity for manual fire watch in case of system failure.

Figure 5 – Overview of the Fire safety system

Such protection measures are designed to prevent false alarms and destruction resulting from atmospheric discharges or switching over-voltages, particularly at transitions between lightning protection zones. By implementing these measures, the overall availability of fire safety systems is significantly increased, enhancing their reliability during critical situations.

The application of shielding and earthing measures further fortifies fire safety systems against the impact of lightning and surges. These measures include enhanced shielding to minimize electromagnetic interference and proper earthing to provide a low-resistance path for fault currents, maintaining the integrity of the fire safety system.

The overview has shown the whole layout of the fire protection system, which could be divide into three main parts: smoke and heat extraction system, fire alarm system and voice alarm system.

Type 2 Surge Protection Device

The SHEV system operates by detecting smoke and opening the windows and smoke vents to allow fresh air in. The SLP40-275/1S+1 serves to protect the power supply for the smoke and extraction system, while the SRD2-24 and FRD4-30 are installed for the actuator, air intake dampers, and alarms.

In the case of the fire alarm panel, the SLP40-275/2S is installed as a power supply protector. As the fire alarm is typically connected with the lift, ventilation, and sprinkler control, these terminal devices must be safeguarded by our type 3 surge protective device TLP-255/2S.

Signal and Data Surge Protection Device

The FRD4-24 is responsible for safely releasing potential reference occurrences in the ring bus fire alarm system. The telecommunication connection is also crucial, and the FRD4-110 serves as the surge protector to be installed.

Data Surge Protector FRD4-24

Signal Surge Protector FRD4-30

Voice alarm system is integrated with the building’s fire alarm system, external loudspeakers deliver audible emergency messages to give evacuation instructions and guidance on safe exit routes. Surge protection should also cover this field.

Security systems

In addition to a suite of security systems comprising access control, burglary protection, video surveillance, perimeter protection, and emergency/safety lighting, the reliability of electrical security systems during lightning is a critical consideration.

Lightning-induced surges can lead to system failures, data loss, and equipment damage. A robust lightning protection concept, aligned with international standards such as IEC 62305, mitigates these risks, enhancing the overall reliability of electrical security systems.

Ensuring the continuity of operations, especially during adverse weather conditions, is imperative for security systems. Lightning protection measures guarantee this continuity, preventing downtime that could compromise the safety and security of the facility.

Access control systems, which regulate entry points and enhance security by managing personnel access, are particularly crucial during thunderstorms. The uninterrupted functioning of access control becomes paramount to prevent unauthorized entry during adverse weather conditions.

Figure 6 – Work principle of security systems

Burglary protection systems, encompassing alarms, sensors, and other devices that deter and detect unauthorized intrusion, rely on continuous functionality. Surge protection for burglar alarm system includes a type 3 surge protector protect its power supply, FRD2-12 serves as protection of detector group lines. A gas discharge tube surge protector is installed aiming to protect transmission device combined with SRD2-180 surge protective device.

Video surveillance, a key component in monitoring and recording activities within and around the facility, requires safeguarding against lightning-induced damage. Lightning protection measures ensure the integrity of surveillance cameras, preserving continuous monitoring capabilities even during thunderstorms.

Perimeter protection systems, employing various technologies to secure external boundaries, are vital for overall facility security. Lightning protection is integral to preventing disruptions that could compromise the effectiveness of these systems, allowing for a swift response to perimeter breaches.

Emergency and safety lighting systems, crucial for providing illumination during power outages or emergency situations, must function seamlessly during thunderstorms. Lightning protection measures guarantee the functionality of these lights, ensuring a well-lit and safe environment in critical scenarios.

Install surge protector SLP40-275/2S on the power lines feeding the safety lighting system which protects the system from voltage spikes that may occur due to lightning, power grid fluctuations, or other electrical disturbances. Outdoor and indoor lightning also protected with specific surge protective devices.

Sensor and signal line may be exposed to the external environment, making them susceptible to damage from lightning or power surges. Therefore, the use of FRD4-24 is recommended to avoid power disruptions.

Rooftop PV system and charging post for vehicles are the common infrastructure of modern hospital building now, these systems also attract power surges, protection measures are in need to increase the availability of these system and secure their service life.

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