How Do UV Lights for HVAC Systems Work?

When you hear the phrase ultraviolet light, you probably think of getting sunburned after spending a day at the pool. And yet, UV light is also a strategy for increasing indoor air quality. Sunscreen protects against UVA and UVB rays, but UVC is the kind of light used in air purification. If you suffer from allergies or asthma or want to minimize the dispersal of illnesses across your home, a UV light in the HVAC system just might be the air quality solution you’ve been looking for!

How Does a UV Light Operate?

The germicidal impacts of ultraviolet light have been known for over a century. UVC rays were originally employed to treat tuberculosis. Today, germicidal lamps are implemented in hospitals, food processing facilities, water treatment plants and air purification equipment.

A UV lamp installed into your HVAC unit improves the air quality in your home by deactivating microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, mold and more. It usually takes 10 seconds of contact to disrupt these germs’ DNA, killing them or stopping them from replicating.

UV lights also combat volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in cleaners and repellents as well as airborne bioaerosols like pollen and pet dander. That being said, UV lights don’t physically ‘trap’ contaminants, so you still require an air filtration system to capture dust, fibers and other particles from your home’s air supply.

How Successful Are UV Lights?

Assuming they are installed properly and feature the right wavelength of UV light, germicidal lamps are highly effective at increasing indoor air quality. One study from Duke University found that UV light deactivated more than 97 percent of drug-resistant bacteria from the air in hospital rooms. Another study measured “significantly lower” fungal levels within a commercial business’ HVAC unit after four months of using a UV light.

Benefits of UV Lights

Place an ultraviolet lamp in your HVAC system to take advantage of these benefits:

    • Cleaner indoor air: UV light technology disinfects the air around the clock without dispersing chemicals into the environment. Compared to some air purifiers, ultraviolet lamps don’t produce ozone, a known lung irritant that is harmful to individuals with asthma, allergies or prolonged lung illnesses.
    • Decreased risk of getting sick: Alongside good personal hygiene, germ-killing UV lights can minimize the chance of getting viral and bacterial infections.
    • Stronger protection for your HVAC system: Mold, fungi and bacteria can clog up your heating and cooling equipment. Keep the system working reliably and efficiently with a hard-working UV light.
    • Reduced HVAC maintenance and repair needs: With an inherently cleaner central HVAC system, you enjoy more manageable maintenance requirements and fewer emergency repairs. These savings can help offset the cost of running a UV light and replacing the bulb.

Where Do UV Lights Get Installed?

If you decide on an air-sanitizing UV light, your installer will position it in your ductwork near the HVAC system. There, the lamp affects the air before it spreads across your home.

If you prefer a coil-sanitizing UV light, it should sit near the AC evaporator coil. There, it targets mold and bacteria that accumulate on the damp coil, keeping your system clean and operating smoothly.

Are UV Lights Safe?

The sun constantly produces invisible UV radiation. As you probably know, UVA and UVB rays can harm your skin, so it’s important to wear a high SPF sunscreen when enjoying time outdoors. The sun also emits UVC rays, the most harming variant of solar radiation capable of killing microorganisms and irritating other living tissue, like the skin and eyes.

Fortunately, the atmosphere eliminates these rays entirely, so they don’t get through to the earth’s surface.

With the knowledge that UVC rays are harmful, why should you feel alright with installing a UVC light in your HVAC system? It’s simple—the light is limited to the inside of the ductwork where you won’t come in contact with it, so it poses no risk to you and your family. When the time comes to maintain the lamp or change the bulb, your HVAC technician will turn off the system for a short time to prevent being exposed to the damaging light.

How Long Do UV Lights Last?

UV lights are on constantly and typically last nine to 14 months. Annual HVAC maintenance (once in the spring for your air conditioner and again in the fall for your furnace) is the perfect time to have these bulbs looked at and replaced as required.

Schedule UV Light Installation

Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing provides a number of air quality solutions, including UV lights for HVAC systems. We would be glad to analyze your home and your family’s needs to recommend the equipment that will perform best for you. Rest easy knowing that all work we produce is backed by a one-year 100% satisfaction guarantee. Reach out to your local Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing office to schedule UV light installation or request a free home health consultation today.

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