Industry Article

Power Supply Requirements for High Power Medical Applications

September 03, 2021 by Don Baldwin, Sager Power Systems

Medical equipment requires specialized solutions that not only provide the power needed but meet very exacting standards for safety. When that equipment needs power above 200W, the requirements involved are even more demanding.

Author: Don Baldwin, Sager Electronics Technical Support Manager

As of 2020, data compiled by Statista indicates that the market size of the global medical technology industry is about half a trillion in US dollars. With a market that size comes a high demand for effective power solutions, including those classified as high power. However, not just any high-power solution will work.

Challenges of Medical Grade Power Solutions

Medical grade power solutions are subject to very stringent requirements and international standards. They must be extremely reliable, safe for operation in a medical environment, and pass electromagnetic compatibility testing. These power supplies must be compliant with the following standards:

  • ANSI/AAMI ES60601-1
  • ES60601-1-11/EN60601-1-11/IEC60601-1
  • EN55011 and EN55032
  • Medical safety approved (2xMOPP)

They must also have UL/CUL/TUV/CB/EAC/CE/FCC certificates and undergo extensive design verification tests (DVT) and design quality tests (DQT).

High Wattage Power Supplies in the Medical Industry

When medical (or dental equipment) needs 200W or more, its power requirements are considered “high” and specially engineered medical-grade power supplies are needed. For such applications, power supplies typically fall into one of these categories: open frame, enclosed, modular/configurable, and adaptors.

Open Frame Power Supplies

Open frame power supplies are used when the power supply does not need its own housing. They are often preferred over enclosed power supplies when cooling is an issue because the lack of an enclosure provides better heat dissipation allowing them to cool much more quickly.

This reduces the heat build-up within the power supply and increases safety. Note that these power supplies can consist of a simple chassis plate, a frame without a lid, or a separate PCB. 

While using an open-frame power supply may seem risky, they are either (1) placed out of the way in an area where they will not be exposed to harmful factors in the environment or (2) depend on other equipment to provide protection. 

In the context of high power, open frame models are used with equipment such as:

  • Sleep apnea devices
  • Oral irrigators
  • Hemodialysis machines
  • Pump machines
  • Medical computer monitors
  • Electric beds

Enclosed Power Supplies

Enclosed power supplies include a frame that protects the power supply from accidentally being touched or objects such as water or debris getting into the supply, allowing them to be safely used in environments where open frame power supplies may be considered dangerous. Enclosed power supplies are used for critical testing and imaging equipment such as MRI, CT, and PET scanners, as well as medical beds and surgical tables.

Modular/Configurable Power Supplies

Modular/configurable power supplies typically consist of a front-end PFC (power factor correction) unit and output modules that can be combined to deliver various output voltages. These power supplies are an excellent solution for medical applications with space limitations and requiring multiple DC voltages. They can also usually be customized.

In a medical setting with high power requirements, modular/configurable power supplies are often used with general medical equipment and specialized tools for use in the following:

  • Diagnostic or biological facilities
  • MRI, CT, and PET scanners
  • Test or measurement systems
  • Laser equipment

High Power Adaptors

Power adapters (also known as external power supplies) work extremely well when equipment and devices need to be portable because they aid in reducing the bulk of the equipment. High power adaptors are available in desktop-mounted models. Lower power adapters are usually available in either desktop mounted models or wall plug models which can be obtained with either a fixed or interchangeable input plug.

In a medical environment, adapters that support high power requirements can usually be found on the following:

  • Mobile clinical workstations
  • Medical computer monitors
  • Portable hemodialysis machines
  • Respiratory equipment (e.g., ventilators, CPAP machines)
  • Oral irrigators

High Wattage Power Solutions

From MRI scanners that can safely use an open frame power supply that helps keep heating at a minimum to mobile clinical workstations that need a lightweight and easy-to-use high power adaptor, many high wattage power solutions are available for medical technology applications. 

The open frame RPS-500 500W power supply. Image courtesy of Sager

Among these high-power medical-grade solutions are products from MEAN WELL such as these power supplies: Open Frame RPS-500 500W, Enclosed MSP-1000 1000W, Modular/Configurable NMP650/1K2 650W & 1200W, and the GSM220A and GSM220B 220W Adaptors. Their range of high-power supplies engineered specifically for medical use have been designed to achieve high efficiency and include built-in protections. These robust, reliable high power supplies are all compliant with UL/CUL/TUV/EAC/CB/CE and are 2x MOPP  Medical safety approved. 

MEAN WELL products are known for their reliability, quality, and straightforward design. As MEAN WELL's leading authorized distributor in North America, Sager Electronics has the most extensive product line of MEAN WELL power solutions in stock, which means that engineers can find solutions for high-power medical applications along with all necessary accessories from one place.