Ensuring safe supply of power at Amphia Hospital

Eric Borst, Construction coordinator Service Core Safety, Technology & Real Estate / installation manager high voltage and low voltage, Amphia Hospital.

Bart-Jan Veen, Service Manager Safety, Technology and Real Estate, Amphia Hospital.

The Amphia is one of the Netherlands’ largest general hospitals, with 572 single rooms, more than 340 specialists, 4500 employees and 340 volunteers. Like all hospitals, Amphia utilizes equipment that needs to meet strict standards and requires very high-quality mains power. After all, interruption or failure of medical equipment can pose real risks to patient safety.

When it comes to functionality and Power Quality, electrical installations in hospitals must meet very strict requirements to ensure safety, reliability, and efficiency. Especially since hospitals depend on Uninterrupted Power Supply installations for life-saving equipment and critical operations. Our electrical installation is fairly large and complex. Installations in hospitals are very similar to those in commercial buildings and manufacturing facilities, but with a few key differences. For instance, in medical areas we need to deal with protection devices such as isolation transformers and equalization systems (so-called Medical IT systems with associated isolation monitoring). This is because we need to be very sure that no failures occur, and that equipment is guaranteed to keep working under all circumstances. If a factory needs to shut down for an hour, an hour of production capacity is lost. Bu if a hospital has to shut down for an hour, lives may be lost.

Continuous insight

In order to guarantee the quality of electricity, we are always optimizing monitoring. Every time changes to the equipment are made, we have to check whether we are going to run into the limits of our installation. We pay close attention to things like voltage dips, for example. These only last a very short time, but they can be deep or long enough to engage the emergency power supply. This is not a problem in the new building, because this emergency facility absorbs voltage dips, but we do want to prevent the emergency generator from kicking in in the previously built part of the hospital. If we see dips occurring more frequently, we start investigating right away.

The Amphia hospital in Breda consists of an existing building (originally from 1991, new construction carried out in 2005) to which four new towers were added a few years ago (2019). This includes, among other things, emergency, and intensive care. There are 10x 10kV 400V transformers on the site of our new building and 8x 10kV-400V transformers in the older building. The new building features two DRUPS (Dynamic Rotating UPS) systems as an emergency supply, and in the older building there are two emergency power generators. The total connected load of Amphia is 6 MW. Previous measurements had shown that our DRUPS system, which serves as a no-break installation and mains filter, had a negative effect on harmonic pollution within its own installation. We were dealing with increased harmonic distortion in the voltage (THDu) at 10kV/400V level. HyTEPS placed PQ meters on each of the main distribution boards for one week. Based on the increased harmonic distortion, we decided to install three active harmonic filters (AHF) on the measured main switchboards. A HyTEPS MFED (Multifunctional Energy Device) was also installed. In this way, the status of new and existing equipment can be continuously monitored. The HyTEPS Power Competence Centre can look into the system at any time and offer advice if required. We are now investigating with HyTEPS whether additional Active Filters may be placed at certain locations in the hospital.

HyTEPS has also tested a number of medical devices for us, based on limits specified in the IEC 60601 and EN 50160 standards. A modular patient monitor, which measures a patient’s electrocardiographic (ECG) signal, a medical humidifier, and an ultrasound machine were tested in relation to voltage dips, harmonic immunity, and emission, and supraharmonic current emissions. This allowed us to take preventative measures and upgrade certain devices.

Smart use of capacity

We are currently interested in developments in the field of solar panels, in particular new façade panels and PV panels that double as windows. However, available space is limited and connecting renewable sources to electrical installations presents challenges because yields can vary enormously.

You might think that hospitals would be given priority over other parties when it comes to expanding grid connections, but unfortunately this is not the case. Luckily, we have a good relationship with our supplier and other users, and our information provision is in order. For example, whenever we’re planning maintenance on our DRUPS system, we always check whether other parties (such as our energy supplier Enexis) are also planning work, in order to identify possible external risks of power outages.

Better matching of supply and demand will remain very important until energy grids are reinforced. For example, our energy broker also runs a company that connects large consumers of electricity to power producers with significant backup capacity. Battery storage can play a role, but doesn’t offer a complete solution. At Amphia, power consumption peaks during the day, between 08:00 and 18:00, after which time you also see the power consumption drop considerably. You could use batteries to store power for times when demand increases, but you can also consider of carrying out certain activities at other times or extending opening hours. The energy transition requires new ways of thinking, which can be an interesting challenge!

Several standards related to the power supply in hospitals in the Netherlands

NEN 1010: Safety provisions for low-voltage installations: the foundation for construction of safe electrical installations in the Netherlands, including hospitals.

NEN-EN-IEC 60364-series: an international standard that specifically relates to electrical installations in buildings.

NEN-EN-IEC 50160: Voltage characteristics of public electricity grids: describes the characteristics of the electricity supplied by public networks. Hospitals should use equipment and systems compatible with these attributes to avoid Power Quality issues.

NEN-EN-IEC 61000-series: focuses on electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), which is crucial in a hospital environment where a great deal of sensitive equipment is used.

NEN-EN-IEC 60364-7-710 specifies specific regulations for electrical installations in medical areas, such as operating theatres and intensive care units.

In addition to these standards, there may be additional requirements established by local health authorities or hospital management organizations, focused on specific needs or circumstances of a hospital.


There is also a classification system for medical areas. So-called G1 refers to treatment rooms where increased electrocution risk exists, but where patients are unlikely to be defenseless against such shocks. G2 refers to high-risk areas, such as operating theatres and intensive care units. Here, patients are defenseless, for example because they are under anesthesia. These areas require very strict safety measures, including special installation techniques and equipment, such as isolated power supply systems, to ensure electrical systems continue to function without endangering patients and staff.


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