Pharmacy Fridge UPS Applications

Pharmacy Fridge UPS Applications

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Why use a UPS on a Pharmacy Fridge?

Unlike applications where sudden power loss causes data loss or other operational issues, power loss to a pharmacy fridge is not such of an issue since the internal temperature is well controlled. In the event of a power cut a solution is simply not to open the fridge. A typical fridge will maintain the internal temperature for around 4 hours in the event of a power cut – provided the door is unopened. However note if the fridge cannot be opened then no medicine in the fridge can be retrieved.

Many laboratory or pharmacy fridges have alarm contacts which can alert to the fact that power has failed and as a result warn users not to open the door. However, a power fail alarm will have to be operated on a secondary power system, such as a battery, due to the obvious fact that a mains powered system would also be rendered inactive during a power outage. Having a battery system, will also require the battery to be maintained in a state of charge. These added complications mean that such alarms are rarely, if ever, implemented.

A pharmacy fridge will be used to house items, typically vaccines, diluents, immunoglobulins and other medicines with temperature requirements. The costs of these medicines can be quite substantial and if the temperature inside the fridge should rise to over +8°C, then, according to the NHS Green Book, the “cold chain” has been broken and these medicines may need to be destroyed. If not destroyed, then a time-consuming process needs to be instigated to determine the effect on the medicine which most likely will include a reduction in the expiry date.

Clearly, protection against sustained power outages has operational and financial benefits.

Fridge Power Consumption

Instead of giving power ratings of the Pharmacy Fridge, the manufacturers specify the energy consumption in KW for a 24 hour period. The method I found for doing this is here: ENERGY STAR® Program Requirements Product Specification for Laboratory Grade Refrigerators and Freezers, and Ultra-Low Temperature Freezers. This value varies from product to product and depends upon a number of factors, including capacity, the type of doors (glass or solid etc.) and the configuration (bench top, under counter etc.). Typically these figures are around 1KW/24 hour for a typical small system in a typical pharmacy. See Note 1.

The test schedule includes opening the fridge door for a period of 15 seconds (plus an additional 4 seconds for opening and closing), 3 times an hour each hour for 8 consecutive hours. This is useful as it allows us to specify a UPS runtime that will allow a degree of use of the fridge during an extended outage.

A typical fridge compressor has a power draw of around 200W, and will require a sine-wave inverter to ensure correct operation.

UPS Selection

In the table below I’ve created a lookup for the number of hours of runtime you could expect (and remember this includes periodically opening the door) given the energy rating of the pharmacy fridge. The VIS products are line interactive units that are fixed in terms of runtime. I’ve included VFI models with and without battery packs. The VFI products provide selectable output voltages and allow for extended run capability. However, the VFI units have always on forced cooling fans which may be a distraction in some instances.

The PF700 products overcome these shortfalls by being a hybrid unit. Not only are they suitable for tough environments so can be put out of the way, they are online units permanently set to ECO mode. This means they run efficiently and are quiet in normal use. The fans only come on if the unit goes online. They are fitted to an external battery and are powerful enough to drive up to 3 fridges. As an example, the PF700-1926 can give 3x 1.5KWhr/24hr fridges back up power for 4 hours – and remember this includes actually using the fridge normally (or at least normal according the guidance docs).

I also note that 60Hz fridges are being specifically requested for some Middle East installations. Note that the VFI units can be used for frequency conversion. This means that a 50Hz output can be provided for a 60Hz input.

Achievable Runtime in hours:

Energy Rating
VIS1000B VIS2000B VFI1500B VFI1500
PF700-648 PF700-1926
0.5 21 2h 22min 3h 42min 5h 24min 21h 39min 12h 58min 31h 8min
0.75 32 1h 44min 2h 44min 4h 0min 16h 2min 9h 36min 23h 4min
1 42 1h 23min 2h 11min 3h 12min 12h 50min 7h 41min 18h 28min
1.5 63 0h 58min 1h 31min 2h 13min 8h 53min 5h 19min 12h 46min
2 84 0h 43min 1h 8min 1h 40min 6h 41min 4h 3min 9h 36min
2.5 105 0h 34min 0h 54min 1h 19min 5h 17min 3h 10min 7h 37min
3 125 0h 28min 0h 45min 1h 5min 4h 23min 2h 37min 6h 19min
3.5 146 0h 24min 0h 37min 0h 55min 3h 42min 2h 13min 5h 19min
4 167 0h 20min 0h 32min 0h 47min 3h 11min 1h 54min 4h 34min
4.5 188 0h 18min 0h 28min 0h 41min 2h 47min 1h 40min 4h 0min
5 209 0h 16min 0h 25min 0h 36min 2h 27min 1h 28min 3h 32min

We have a selection of systems you can buy direct from our webstore here: Buy Online

Note 1: I’ve used what manufacturers are displaying on their spec sheets in order to avoid confusion, however the correct term should in fact be kilowatt hours per 24 hour period eg. kWh/24

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