Retirement village - Solihull, West Midlands

Mitigating power disruption risks with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) infrastructure

Account manager - Andy Barker

System installed - Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system

Details - TIS installed a UPS system that provides battery backup and ensures critical systems across the Solihull site remain operational in the event of a power failure.


Developing and building a brand new, multi-million pound integrated retirement community in Solihull, ExtraCare charitable trust appointed TIS to design and install a converged, fibre-based life safety, security and communications system.

The infrastructure would allow disparate technologies to work reliably together through one common communication platform, creating a single unified solution across Solihull’s 12-storey site that houses 261 private apartments, plus communal areas and multiple shared facilities.

With the planned system featuring hundreds of individual edge devices, all integral to the seamless delivery of vital 24/7 care services such as assisted living, well-being support and dementia care, we identified it would be necessary to ensure every security and safety eventuality was accounted for. This included guaranteeing service delivery could be maintained in the event of power disruption, either locally on site due to a local area power cut, or even during potential planned outages such as those announced by the UK Government in 2022.


During planned energy blackouts, certain facilities are exempt from a power cut – these are known as Protected Sites. Protected Sites include air traffic control centres, major hospital facilities with accident and emergency departments and military bases. This list does not include integrated retirement communities though. Our view is that all schemes with ‘emergency call’ services should be classified as priority businesses. But the reality right now is that they aren’t.

We therefore recommended designing and installing a robust uninterruptible power supply (UPS) infrastructure that would guarantee delivery of critical systems and services in the event of power disruption or failure.

The Challenge

Most integrated retirement community operators will likely recognise that a power outage could be disruptive to their operations and residents, but many don’t fully appreciate the implications for care delivery, safety and security.

It’s necessary to consider battery backup at several key areas to ensure fault-free operation during a power cut:

- Call units in apartment / communal areas
- Control equipment (central control unit, server, comms rack, etc.)
- Infrastructure (network switches if IP based system, routers, etc.)
- Telephony (PBX) system (routing the calls, staff handsets, etc.)
- Wireless system (DECT or Wi-Fi handsets)
- Connection to the outside world (telephone, broadband, fibre, etc.)

Some developments may have battery backup installed by the builder during the construction phase, which might keep the devices in the main equipment room operating, but most are unaware of the exact requirements for keeping all of their critical systems from failing - the level of backup power required, which systems have battery backup and which don’t, how long the batteries will last, what happens if one system goes down and the knock on effect to other critical systems and so on.

How we did it

We started with a system-wide analysis of the converged life safety, security and communications system we were designing and planning to install for ExtraCare Solihull. We first had to determine which essential aspects of the system would need backing up and how much power it would take to do so.

Since each customer specification is different, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Some customers, for example, only require their emergency call system to have battery back up, while others will specify additional systems such as Telephony, Wi-Fi, CCTV, or Access Control to continue working during a power failure. This will vary the amount of battery power needed considerably – impacting logistical matters such as how much physical space will be needed to house the UPS as well as implications on the budget. In ExtraCare’s case, the specification was for the emergency call plus other critical systems to last for 8 hours on battery backup.


Accurately calculating the size, quantity and location of the batteries, chargers and control units is a technically challenging job requiring expert knowledge of all the equipment requiring autonomy and their resultant load (power consumption) on the system. Too little capacity and the UPS will fail, along with the critical systems, before the specified time, too much capacity and extra space will be required, and costs will be increased.

The next consideration was the amount of space required to physically house all of the batteries (each one on par with a car battery) needed to keep the UPS running. With hundreds of devices and systems requiring backup power, the floor space required was not insignificant (the total weight of all those batteries ruled out wall or rack-mounted installation). Fortunately, as Solihull was a new-build development this could be built into the design specification and allowed for within the building layout. This was one of the key advantages of TIS being part of the overall development design phase as we were able to specify the requirement early enough in the process for the space to be reserved.

Knowing the status and health of the UPS system was also an important consideration so we added a monitoring system. This not only alerts relevant staff when there is a power outage (not always clear when a backup system kicks in), it’s also important for understanding the load on the system and how much resilience remains should there be multiple power failures in a short period of time. For example, batteries will need time to recharge following an incident and over time the system will need maintenance and servicing to ensure it operates at peak performance. Finally, we stress-tested the UPS system and implemented a maintenance schedule that would ensure batteries are regularly inspected, charged and tested. With a full report and compliance certificate issued for each UPS following every maintenance visit.

What we delivered

ExtraCare Solihull has a robust and resilient UPS system that spans not just its main comms room and control unit, but also all critical equipment in secondary equipment rooms and individual residential apartments.

This means that in the event of a power failure, critical systems across the Solihull site will remain operational. By providing battery backup for all important systems, ExtraCare isn’t left in a situation where the main comms room retains power, but equipment in other locations or edge devices fail. This is vital for systems such as emergency call where it’s pointless if the alarm button in a resident’s apartment retains power but there’s no way for the alert to reach the care team elsewhere on the site.

The UPS infrastructure at ExtraCare Solihull was designed and installed for less than 0.05% of the total development build cost - a relatively low investment compared to the peace-of-mind and insurance this provides for the delivery of critical services and care and the protection of vulnerable residents.

Although UPS infrastructure is an ‘unseen’ system that most residents and their families will never be aware of (though they will likely expect seamless service delivery in all situations), TIS has helped to solidify ExtraCare’s reputation for being a safe, compliant and market-leading integrated retirement community operator.

Related case studies

Design and installation of a groundbreaking fire alarm system

Design and installation of a groundbreaking, fully compliant fire alarm system that would be active throughout the communal and private apartment spaces and across the entire Solihull site.

Find out more

A new commercially viable specification for Audley Mayfield IRCs

Designing and developing Mayfield's new 'mid-range' integrated retirement community specification for Audley Group.

Find out more

Protecting ExtraCare’s Solihull Integrated Retirement Community

Designing and installing a converged life safety and security system that would allow disparate technologies to work reliably together through a single common communication platform.

Find out more

Integrated smart protection for Longbridge retirement village

Longbridge retirement village was a £1.2 million project to install building-wide communications, security and life safety systems, along with our ‘Smart Building Converged Infrastructure’.

Find out more

Upgrading Bournville Gardens for remote fire alarm management

Bournville Gardens retirement village is a unique housing scheme providing purpose-built facilities for the over 55s, helping residents to remain living in their own homes for longer.

Find out more

Future-proofing new-build Stoke Gifford retirement village

A new-build retirement village, TIS was appointed to design, install and maintain communications, security and life safety systems, along with our ‘Smart Building Converged Infrastructure’.

Find out more